Soap Alum Ilene Kristen Talks Her Exciting New Play, One Life to Live, and Much More! (EXCLUSIVE) Check it out here --->>
Photo: Donna Svennevik
Soap Opera News had the pleasure of chatting with Daytime Emmy-nominee Ilene Kristen. The actress is known for her roles on Ryan’s Hope, Loving, and One Life to Live. Join us below as she talks about her time on soap operas and her exciting new play, 1-2-3 Manhunt. The show runs from October 7-24. You can secure tickets and find out more here.
1-2-3 Manhunt, a new play by Tony DiMurro, examines this ever-changing neighborhood through the eyes of an Italian man who has come back to see his neighborhood one more time and a Chinese teenager who had dreams of playing professional baseball before the pandemic. Their confrontation on the rooftop of a building leads to surprising discoveries about each other and of the city that they call home. Ultimately, the play is “about commitment to friendship,” says Ilene.
How did you get involved with the project?
Bill Roudebush, the director, and I have known each other for 30 some odd years. I did a couple of readings with him many years ago and then, I did a reading of a play at the Actor’s Studio, which he was there that night. And he had said to me that there might be this play that I'm right for and if it's going to be done, he'll give me a call. And he did! I’ve always wanted to work with him on a completed project.
Photo: courtesy of 1-2-3 Manhunt. Pictured Ilene Kristen and Santo Fazio.
What has it been like creating a theater experience during post-pandemic times?
Well, I gotta say that over the last five years, it's been really hard to think creatively. My creativity over the last four years has kind of been at odds because I just felt like I had worldly issues to concentrate on. And so, it's nice to be doing something creative. For the last several months, I've been doing a lot of different projects. I feel like things are so starting to come back to normal, but we're still not in normal times. It's really hard with the pandemic. In fact, it's hard to insist that your friends come and see you in something if they're not totally comfortable being out and about. I haven't done a play in over two years so you have to make sure that your mouth works.
How did you find your way to stage acting in the beginning?
Oh God, I've been doing plays since I was a kid. My very first job was on television, but basically, my second job was on stage on Broadway when I was 15. I did a Broadway show called Henry, Sweet Henry as one of the little school children and I was a dancer primarily. And then, of course, I was in the original company of Grease as Patty Simcox.
What was that experience like?
Amazing, Absolutely amazing. And we've just written a book called Tell Me More, Tell Me More. We've each written several chapters in it. It's incredible. It’s going to be very exciting when that comes out. We're having our 50th reunion in February.
What was the transition from stage to soap operas like?
Well, that's interesting because when I first started doing Ryan's Hope I had done some television before and I felt that my acting was because I have been so used to doing stage, my acting was a little big for the camera. So when I started doing Ryan’s Hope, I really wanted to tone it down, but we had a director, Lela Swift, who liked you to do things really big. So it was actually like doing stage at first.
Ryan's Hope was a bit before my time, but I did love you and your character, Roxy, on One Life to Live. Do you have any favorite memories or storylines from your time there?
Everything, absolutely everything. I felt like it was so the right character at the right time. I always said that doing Roxy was the most fun that you could have, legally, you know, so I just had a joyride, that's the best way I can put it, it was a joy ride. There was never a moment where I went, I don't like this storyline. Of course, there were storylines that I wanted to see developed that never were but I had a blast. I loved the cast. I had an amazing experience doing all the soaps that I've done.
Would you ever consider a return to soap operas?
Oh, of course. I had done General Hospital as Delia and that was interesting but it was a very incomplete experience. So, the only soap that I think would be right for me to go back to possibly is General Hospital. Although, I would love to work with Ron Carlivati on Days of Our Lives. I love Ron. I miss doing television. I would like to have another go-around at doing a soap. That's my wish. Then, I'll retire peacefully.
Are there any other upcoming projects that we can look forward to at this time?
I'm doing an original song in this fantastic thing called Susie Mosher's Line Up at Bird Lab on October 12. My dear friend, Marilu Henner, who also was involved in Grease and many other things, she's going to be on the same bill. I'm really, really excited about that. She's so talented, really talented. I’m also getting an award from a college that I went to for one year, I think they've run out of people. I'm up for anything!
Thank you, Ilene, for the lovely chat! Be sure to check her out in 1-2-3 Manhunt.