'All My Children' stars shine on Sarasota

Fans will meet cast before show reboot online

mclear@bradenton.comApril 22, 2013 

Walt Willey and Alicia Minshew are coming to town to promote a show they're not even on.

Willey, better known to soap opera audiences as Jackson Montgomery, and Minshew, aka Kendall Hart, were among the stars of "All My Children," the daytime drama canceled in 2011 after a 41-year run.

Later this month, an online version of the show will make its debut online. Neither Willey nor Minshew will be on what's being called the reboot of "All My Children."

But they'll join former castmates at the Sarasota Opera House April 27 for a touring event called "A Tribute to Pine Valley," a reference to the setting of the show. It's an unscripted evening for fans to get to know the actors and hear stories about the legendary daytime drama.

"Soap opera fans are extremely loyal," said Minshaw, speaking from her apartment on Manhattan's upper west side. "They feel like we're family because we come into their living rooms every day. This event is a way to stay connected."

The new version of "All My Children" is set to make its debut on Hulu April 29. Minshew and Willie will not be regulars on the new series -- at least not at first.

"They're doing six-week story cycles and I think they'll have maybe a dozen characters on any one cycle," Willie said. "They don't need all 40 of us."

Minshew did a cameo role for one of the early episodes of the new series, but said there are no further plans to bring her character back.

She said the online version of the show will pick up five years after the end of the televised version, but it will "answer the questions from the final show."

Even though they won't be part of the online show, Minshew and Willey said they're happy to promote it through "Tribute to Pine Valley" events.

"I like live entertainment better anyhow," Willey said. "And that's what this is: It's unscripted, live entertainment."

When Willey, Minshew and former castmates -- Vincent Irizarry (David), Darnell Williams (Jesse), Debbie Morgan (Angie) and Jacob Young (JR) come to Sarasota, they'll show video clips, share favorite behind-the-scenes anecdotes, hold a trivia contest and answer fan questions.

"They ask 'What's Susan Lucci like?' 'What was it like to slap Susan Lucci?' 'What's it like to do a love scene?' " Minshew said. "They all want to know about love scenes."

Minshew and Willey have Florida connections. Minshew was born in Planation, and she's reuniting with some of her Florida family members when the tour goes to Fort Lauderdale.

Willey lives in New Mexico, but he's a frequent visitor to the Bradenton area. Besides performing at McCurdy's Comedy Club, he has friends here and played host to a charity event here in February.

He also travels around the country with a one-man show he wrote about Wild Bill Hickok.

Minshew has done a sitcom pilot called "Surviving Sam" and a couple of independent movies.

So they're keeping busy although they'd like to rejoin "All My Children" if story lines and schedules allow.

Willie's especially excited about the show moving to the Internet

"I'm sure it's going to be a big hit," he said. "I'd love to be a part of the reboot, if nothing else than as a historical footnote. I think this is the wave of the future. I haven't had cable in years."

Details: 7 p.m. April 27 at the Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple St., Sarasota. Tickets: $55-$95. Optional post-show autograph and photo session is an additional $95. Information: atributetopinevalley.com or 866-364-0330.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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