Lives Will Change ‘Drastically’ at the ‘General Hospital’ Nurses Ball
Producers, directors, cast, and crew at General Hospital aren’t letting the coronavirus stop the Nurses Ball. The annual gala, which is both a talent show and a fundraiser for HIV/AIDS programs, kicks off and shifts into high gear this week. While viewers may not see crowded banquet tables or all the nurses doing an opening number, the ball is happening!
TV Insider chatted with Frank Valentini, executive producer, about how the show was able to deliver the highly anticipated event, the show’s charismatic new villain – Cyrus Renault (Jeff Kober, Sons of Anarchy; China Beach) – and much more.
Read on for the scoop and check out the exclusive clip below that shows which two Port Charles leading ladies will host the Nurses Ball red carpet!
What challenges went into bringing the 2020 Nurses Ball to life?
Frank Valentini: The biggest challenge was how do you keep the numbers down in terms of the number of actors in the building, the number of personnel – I don’t mean the number of musical acts. That will be evident in the first episode.
Some of the challenges and protocols we had to adhere to actually turned into an opportunity to reinvent the ball, which has been exciting. I’ve always tried to take the innate challenges in producing 250 episodes a year where we say, ‘Well, we can’t do this, but we can do this.’
Last year, attendees had to worry about murderous Ryan (Jon Lindstrom) being on the loose. This year, Nelle’s (Chloe Lanier) the one with an axe to grind now that she has lost custody of Wiley (Erik and Theo Olson).
Nelle is not one to take bad news lying down. So, she is intimately involved in the Nurses Ball as are the Corinthos family, Michael (Chad Duell), Willow (Katelyn MacMullen), and Sasha (Sofia Mattsson). The whole cast is involved and there’s a lot of intrigue with a lot of different people. One of the things to watch for is Nelle’s reaction to losing custody of Wyle.
How will this year’s musical numbers be different due to coronavirus?
It’s pretty much the same, but there is no huge group dance number. We didn’t want to do that. The Nurses Ball will have some familiar fan favorites that the audience loves and can never get enough of.
Not to single anyone out, but, well, I’m going to — Josh Swickard (Chase) has pretty much stolen the show the last two years with his musical numbers Feel It Still and Something Just Like This. Can you tease what he might be doing this year, if anything?
You’ll have to wait and see. I can’t tease that, but I can say that there are a couple of new faces to the ball [this year]. As always, we try to mix it up. As people are in different places in their lives, it may not make as much sense for them to be singing and dancing. But other people have picked up the mantel.
Bad guy Cyrus Renault, played by Jeff Kober, is a great addition to the show, a worthy addition to the pantheon of GH antagonists. He makes an impression.
Yes. He’s charismatic and malevolent.
When one of his henchman offered to ‘take care’ of Mayor Laura Collins (Genie Francis), Cyrus said absolutely not and that he’s fond of her.
I think he definitely has a major crush on Laura. He sees her as a strong adversary. As a villain, he finds that exhilarating.
Have you thought of incorporating the coronavirus into the show – or do you want to keep it separate?
I think what we’re trying to concentrate on with the Nurses Ball is what the Nurses Ball has always provided everyone with – some fun, a little bit of action/adventure, and some romance. There is a nod to what we’re all struggling with. You’ll see how it’s all laid out.
The Nurses Ball wouldn’t be the same without Mistress of Ceremonies and co-founder Lucy Coe (Lynn Herring). Can we count on seeing her again this year?
Absolutely. And the gowns and the dresses and hairstyles are coming with her.
What else can you tease?
We didn’t want to have any babies in the studio [for safety reasons], but Wiley is such important part of the show. So, I can say that you’ll get to see Wiley.
Repercussions will play out after this year’s Nurses Ball wraps up?
Yes. Absolutely. It’s going to change the lives of a couple of people very drastically. The Quartermaines are also involved and deeply affected because of what’s going on with Cyrus and the hospital. The Q’s are front and center.
Congratulations on being in the top spot in the coveted Women 18-49 demographic your first full week back with original episodes.
That was nice to see and it was nice to see that the audience has missed us as much as we’ve missed them.
General Hospital, Weekdays, ABC