Behind the Scenes at OLTL's "Go Red" Ball

There’s a basic mathematical equation when it comes to taping daytime scenes: The more actors are involved, the longer it takes. So when I learned that over 30 ONE LIFE TO LIVE contract players would be participating in the “Go Red” Ball (which begins airing the week of Feb. 11), I knew they were in for a long night — or several of them. I visited the set on Jan. 11 to see the ball first-hand and get the scoop on the fabulous gowns. (Be sure to pick up the Feb. 19 issue of Soap Opera Weekly, which hits newsstands Feb. 8.)

The ball is a fund-raiser to benefit heart health awareness, co-hosted by Viki and Dorian. “It makes sense, since she has her dead husband’s heart in a transplant,” said Robin Strasser (Dorian), “and I am a medical doctor, as Dorian loves to tell people.” The two ladies put their differences aside for the worthy cause.

When I went downstairs to the dressing rooms at the studio, I walked into a lounge full of extras, all dressed in red. The men wore tuxedos, or their own version of dressing up, but each incorporated a touch of red in their outfits.

We visitors were brought into the rehearsal hall, where actors who had some down time did quick interviews. With 25-plus extras milling around it wasn’t too quiet, and I couldn’t help but notice Kristen Alderson (Starr) doing homework with her tutor. (Kristen loves math. Who knew?)

First in line was Ilene Kristen, whose Roxy was wearing something that could have been picked up on 34th Street (her words, not mine). Topping off her glittery red gown were some feathers in her hair. Melissa Archer (Natalie) and Hillary B. Smith (Nora) followed, though they didn’t have their dresses on yet. Later I would see Smith in a beautiful taffeta gown by Donald Diehl so stunning and so delicate that Smith had black pads under her armpits (“my wings” she called them) to keep perspiration from staining the dress. Apparently taffeta is very sensitive; a drop of water could ruin an entire gown.

Strasser made a grand entrance into the rehearsal hall, all dressed and made up. Her gown was custom-made for Dorian in Hong Kong.

Then I caught up with the adorable Farah Fath, whose Gigi will be making quite a splash at the ball. Apparently Viki insists that Gigi attend and urges her to comb Natalie or Jessica’s closets to find a red dress. (Wouldn’t that be a fun thing to do: go through someone closets and choose a dress!) Luckily, there is a closet full of red dresses at Viki’s for Gigi to choose from. What does she wear? Well, it is quite a change from her Bon-Jour Café waitress uniform.

Also out of uniform is BethAnn Bonner‘s Talia. She wears a simple Calvin Klein gown and looks great. Apparently, Talia and Antonio go together, but as Bo has told them there can be no dating between co-workers, they have to do some sneaking around.

I got to meet Hunt Block (Ramsey) for the first time. He is very tall (I’m not — and I don’t wear heels that often), so that meant lots of looking up. He’s funny and has a very dry sense of humor. He didn’t sport anything red on his tuxedo because “he’s an outsider,” explained costume designer Susan Gammie.

Finally, I went upstairs to the set. The Palace had been transformed into a great party space. Everyone was milling about. There was a lot of waiting around again, though the actresses now all wore their party dresses. Some couldn’t sit, others could. Representatives from the hair and makeup departments were available for touch-ups.

Scenes with Brian Kerwin (Charlie) were shot first, because Kerwin is also staring in a hit Broadway play, August: Osage County, and had to make curtain. His exit was followed by John Brotherton‘s (Jared), since the two were in scenes together. The rest of the cast was very jealous when Brotherton waved a friendly goodbye at around 6:30.

Minutes later, pizza was delivered — a sure sign that it’s going to be a late night, folks.

As I watched the taping, I chatted with Kassie DePaiva (Blair), Catherine Hickland (Lindsay), Justis Bolding (Sarah) and Melissa Gallo Fumero (Adriana). They confirmed my earlier statement that big casts equals long days, and added that not only are the days long, but most of them have only a few lines. With the exception of Hickland, who has some big scenes during the ball, most of those characters attend as guests.

I considered trying to score a slice of pizza, but thought better of it. On my way out, I wondered if pizza was chosen because if anyone spilled anything it would probably be red on red. But I’m sure they wore bibs.

It’s going to be a great ball. Tune in!

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