Tensions were boiling over within the General Hospital fan base online with the recent firing of Kelly Sullivan as Connie on the program. I wanted to touch upon it on my blog.
As someone who has watched multiple shows, my POV is a bit different than most, and much too long for twitter. I believe in the concept of signature roles.
Basically this post is all about the following conversation between Richard at Soaps in Depth and Ron Carlivati at General Hospital...
@soapsindepthabc So is Sonny an AMCer? Is Carly a Guiding Lighter?
— Ron Carlivati (@carlivatiron) June 29, 2013
I actually understand why some fans are upset over the firing of Kelly Sullivan and writing out of the character of Connie as she's playing a General Hospital only character. Kelly never played a significant role on another soap, so people would prefer to see her than other actors. When it comes to the so-called Llanview three (Kristen Alderson, Michael Easton and Roger Howarth) getting new characters the jury is still out for me regarding Kiki, Silas and Franco. While they have all appeared on GH for over a year, I don't first associate them with the program. That isn't me being disrespectful, it is just how I feel. I bet a lot of General Hospital fans felt that way watching Genie Francis for example playing any role on a soap opera that wasn't Laura, or seeing Jane Elliot on Days of Our Lives as Angelica instead of Tracy.
For me part of it comes back to the concept of the signature role. How I define a signature role is a part that someone is the best known for playing whether it is based on how memorable the character was or the actors' longevity in the part. When I saw Finola Hughes on All My Children playing Alex and then Anna, all I wanted was for her to "come home" to General Hospital and play Anna in Port Charles. I felt the same way when Lynn Herring wasn't playing Lucy and on Days of our Lives or As the World Turns or when John Ingle was on Days as Mickey I wanted him back as Edward. One of the few actors that is claimed by more than one show does have a General Hospital connection: Wally Kurth. For some soap fans, his signature role is GH's Ned but for others it is as DOOL's Justin. He's an exception to the rule, though when he appeared on ATWT, people wished he was back in LA in whichever role they preferred to watch him play. Maura West (Ava) is someone I see first as a P&G performer. Without a doubt, her signature role was as Carly on As the World Turns. Depending on how it goes it could change, but it will take months if not years of work on General Hospital for my opinion to differ.
To answer Ron's comment about Sonny and Carly…well Maurice Benard has been on General Hospital a lot longer than Sonny than as Nico on All My Children. There are a lot of viewers who don't even remember him on AMC as Mr. Kelly. Sonny is Maurice's signature role due to the importance the character. When it comes to Carly played by Laura Wright, for me it is an interesting case. When Laura joined Guiding Light, at first I called her Ally (the character she played on both Loving and The City.) Eventually I saw her as Cassie, but when she came to GH my first thought was that she went back to her ABC roots as her acting style is more ABC than P&G. Also Laura has been on GH almost as long as she was on Guiding Light, so it is a tossup IMO. That said since Laura won her Emmy from GH some may consider that more of her signature part, while others may think of her as Cassie. With most performers, this isn't the case.
As a viewer, I just am most interested in seeing compelling story with strong actors. While there are some performers I'd prefer to see in other parts, I've learned by now you can't always get what you want as a viewer. And sometimes I just have to be glad to be able to see these actors at all even if I'd rather see them working in different circumstances.