On the Set With Ryan's Hope
Soap Opera Digest, March 1976
Article Provided By Wanda
My afternoon on the set of Ryan's Hope was such an enjoyable visit, for me. As Ron Hale said: "They're great people to be with." This included not only the cast, but the very hard working writers, directors, producers and all of the off-camera staff. During the time that I talked off set to whoever was free, an entire show was taped. Dennis Jay Higgins, who plays Sam, has been on the show for only a few weeks and this is his very first soap. He's done theatre at the American Shakespeare Festival in Connecticut. That's where Kate Mulgrew appeared last summer, as Emily, in Our Town. We missed seeing Kate because she was recuperating from injuries suffered when she was thrown from her horse. In her absence, the part of Mary was played by Carol Richards.
As Ty McConnell was being made up for his part as Kenneth, he talked about his off-Broadway experience in Fashion, a show in which he did some singing. This is his first experience in a daytime serial, and he loves it. Faith Catlin, who is Faith Coleridge, is trying her hand at writing a film with her friend, John Ballard, who will be doing the directing. I had a delightful time chatting with Helen Gallagher and Bernard Barrow. They're so charming...with that same warmth and gaiety of Maeve and Johnny Ryan. I remember Miss Gallagher as Gooch in the hit Broadway show Mame. She's done a great deal of work in the theatre, has toured in No, No, Nannette, and put on her own night-club act. In addition to her work on Ryan's Hope, she teaches singing.
Bernie Barrow is another member of the cast who shares his talents and knowledge of the theatre with those eager to learn. With a PhD, from Yale, in Theatre History, Professor Barrow has been teaching since 1948. This year, at Brooklyn College, his course is: History of the American Theatre. Since this is the Bicentennial year, I was eager for a short course in American History, so I asked, "how far back does theatre go in our country?"
"The first play here, brought by the English actors, was called The Contract, by Royal Tyler, in 1790. It was based on Sheridan's School for Scandal. The contrast was between the simplicity and truth of Americans and the affectation of the English. The actors of those times were anxious to come here because England in that period had very strict, Puritanical laws, which extended to the theatre." My lesson had to be concluded when Bernie was called onto the set.
I asked Helen about her TV grandchild. He seems very unhappy when he's on. Well, it's quite an experience for a baby, not quite a year old to be part of a television show, with so many strange people. Helen says he's very good with her off camera because she sings to him. That reminded her of an incident that occurred while she was doing Gooch on Mame. One of the women in the company had her eight-month-old baby girl on tour - and during one performance, Helen, as Gooch carried the infant on stage - and at her debut, was a great success, enjoying every minute of her brief part.
In the "stories the audience never knows department" - they told about the great episode of Ryan's Hope that was to be the Election Celebration. It was filmed and turned out very well - but the people in the New York area never got to see it. That day, the time period was pre-empted by the mayor's announcement about New York's financial crisis.
For those who remember Dark Shadows - you'll be interested in knowing that Bob Costello, who produced that show, is now doing Ryan's Hope and using the same TV studio - but what a difference between the bizarre goings on of the Collins family and the very down-to-earth Ryans.
Monroe Carol, Associate Producer, was introducing me to some of the cast and when I met Phyllis Nilson, I couldn't place her in the story. She's an extra now, but when she was an ingenue, she was screen tested by MGM for a part in National Velvet. What part? Just the one given to a young lady by the name of Elizabeth Taylor.
With the busy schedule everyone at Ryan's Hope had - we felt too quilty to take up any more of their precious time - and so we said 'goodbye' to TV's newest soap opera. "Keep up the good work - and we'll see you around Ryan's Bar."
Earl Hidman (Bob Reid); Dennis Higgins
(Sam Crowell) get a briefing from
Associate Producer, Monroe Carol
Make-up man David Lawrence
and Michael Levin (Jack Fenelli)
Frank Latimore (Dr. Ed Coleridge) gets
an assist from Hairdresser Tom Colesant
Costume Designer Ramse Mostoleer
and Wardrobe Head, Flo Gabrielle,
confer on clothes for the next scene.
Faith Catlin (Faith Coleridge) is
trying her hand at writing a film.
Helen Gallagher and Bernard Barrow
are so charming - with that same
warmth and gaiety they put into their
roles as Maeve and Johnny Ryan
Nancy Addison plays
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