Curiosity, the Catskills and soaps!

Two and a half hours away from New York City, in what’s touted as the “foothills” of the Catskill Mountains, is Callicoon, N.Y., and the 40-year-old Villa Roma resort. It’s all countryside—which amounts to farmland and familiarity for me, an Ohio girl through and through. But the Villa Roma resort itself stands out from its pastoral surroundings, greeting visitors with a sprawling, Italian-inspired main house and a fountain. And, okay, yes, We Love Soaps‘ Roger Newcomb and Damon Jacobs and I all immediately looked at the fountain and went, “Oh my God, we need to re-enact the Slut of Springfield speech!” No, we didn’t get around to actually doing that.

Guiding Light was far from the only pop culture reference our May 21 jaunt inspired. Despite being at Villa Roma for We Love Soaps Weekend, featuring performances by and activities with actors from ATWT, GL, and OLTL, I had a strong thread of Dirty Dancing running through the entire weekend, since that’s my only experience with resorts in the Catskills. I think the funniest thing was that I wasn’t the only one who ended up referring to the movie all weekend. It felt like pretty much everybody made a Dirty Dancing crack at some point. 

Of course, the two-night extravaganza wasn’t really about dancing. After everyone arrived on Friday and got settled, it was time for a night of singing! 

Kathy Brier (ex-Marcie, OLTL) kicked off the show with songs from her second album, Stories, including her kick-ass cover of Janis Joplin’s  “Piece of My Heart” and “Borrowed Angels,” which Marcie sang at Jen’s funeral. Of course I know that Colleen Zenk Pinter (Barbara, ATWT) is a fantastic actress and dancer, but I had never heard her sing! She wowed the crowd with several classic Broadway numbers, including “Broadway Baby” and “Wherever He Ain’t.” Michael O’Leary (Rick, GL), the emcee for the evening, entertained the crowd with tales about Dr. Death, Rick Bauer, and his penchant for killing patients. Evan Alex Cole (Hunter, ATWT), debuted an original song off of his forthcoming album. Entitled “World Turns,” it was a really sweet and catchy number about his time working on the show. Robert Newman (Josh, GL) gave us a sneak preview of an upcoming gig as Daddy Warbucks in Annie by singing “Something Was Missing,” and he also sang a beautiful Irish ballad. The closing act was Ilene Kristen (Roxy, OLTL) and her band. And, let me tell you, they are awesome. What a talented group of musicians! Ms. Kristen assembled the perfect ensemble. And then, with her showmanship and her husky, bluesy voice, she energized and mesmerized the crowd! We couldn’t help but “Rise to the Occasion” with her repertoire of original songs!

After the show, thanks to a discussion with Robert involving The Shining, that’s all I could think about. It didn’t help that Damon and Alex had pointed out there was a small, empty room next to mine, with the door thrown wide open. Freak.y. So, when I got to bed, I lay awake for a while, thinking,”Come play with us! Come play with us!” I think I only ended up getting, like, two hours of sleep as a result.

Saturday kicked off quietly. I had breakfast with the guys, spent an hour revising my book, and watched Alex call Bingo for a bit. He was replaced by OLTL’s BethAnn Bonner (Talia) and Bree Williamson (Jessica), who’d arrived that morning. Eventually, I joined Roger, Damon, Alex, BethAnn and Bree in the cafe for lunch, where we saw Colleen as well. After a few more hours of hanging out and doing various things, we got dinner and geared up for Saturday night’s show.

Bree and BethAnn hosted, and the performance order was a bit different from the night before. There were also a few number changes, like Kathy kicking it a capella with “Taylor the Latte Boy” (sung, most notably, by Kristin Chenoweth) and channeling Sophie Tucker from her upcoming role in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Bree and BethAnn dueted “For Good” from Wicked. And the song means a lot to them, so it was not without tears! But there was plenty of laughter, too. Michael, who did a stand-up bit involving Rick and Abby’s romance and sign language, got a surprise when BethAnn reacted. See, she’s fluent in sign language! Her realizing what he was saying before the other audience members was as entertaining as the conclusion to the story! Robert, Colleen, Alex, and Ilene were all just as fabulous as they had been the night before, and Colleen and Ilene both looked fantastic. I’ve always respected them and their work, but this weekend really afforded me a renewed sense of admiration. They’re truly inspiring women who are following their passion and always give it their all. It was a great crowd of people.

I’ve got to say, I really lucked out! Being at a resort reminiscent of days gone by, looking for watermelons to carry (there weren’t any) and ducking phantom twins (there weren’t any of those either), and getting to do it all with these eight actors proved to be a wonderful time!

I’m going to have a more interview-oriented event article up at SoapOperaWeekly.Com in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for that!

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