What if you could just stroll through the streets of Port Charles? Look through the windows of the Quartermaine mansion? I did exactly that just days ago with a General Hospital set visit, a rare behind the scenes look for us Disney bloggers – one which had us bumping into actors, spying upcoming story-lines, and having some good old plain fun on the set.
The hardest part – keeping some of it under wraps (for now), as I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for loyal GH readers. But oh, it’s exciting stuff I tell ya! Keep on reading…
(Disney and ABC invited me to California on an all-expenses paid trip, in exchange for our coverage of events. As always, all opinions are my own.)
GH Celebrating 55 Years
I was on the set of General Hospital, the longest-running American soap opera currently in production. It also proudly holds the record for the longest-running scripted television drama currently in production as well.
General Hospital celebrated its 55 th anniversary on April 1, 2018 and it’s easy to see why.
For many of us, soap operas take us back generations. I remember when I was a little girl, my grandmother had to watch her “stories” everyday starting at 11am and not finishing until 3pm. It was part of her daily life. She was (and still is, in her 90s) hooked on the story lines and attached to “her” characters. Her schedule works around her “stories” – always has, always will.
I’m sure many of us can relate. While I don’t have near enough time these days to watch everyday, it just takes a few moments to pick right back up where you left off.
I can’t help but be transported back to Luke and Laura as I type this – I’m even humming “Think of Laura” by Christopher Cross. You know the one, right? I sure do. That wedding was everything in daytime tv.
With actors like John Stamos “Blackie” to Mark Hamill (yes, Luke Skywalker was on GH), there’s no doubt why General Hospital has won the prestigious Emmy ® Award for Outstanding Daytime Drama a record 13 times.
General Hospital Set Visit
You would have seen surprise on my face when the bus pulled up in the parking lot of GH. Why? As you can see from the first photograph above, it actually looks like a hospital!
Having been on several set visits before for other television shows, I was expecting a nondescript building.
Not GH! With a ramp for wheelchairs and a big emergency sign, we were off to a great start.
GH Celebrities – including Meghan Markle
I found myself walking by dressing rooms and I’d quickly find myself going – “I know her”. First I spotted Genie Francis’ dressing room and then Leslie Charleson. GH royalty right there.
But it didn’t end there. In fact, though most had broken for lunch, there were a few actors still working on scenes – just not live taping. So as we walked around the set, taking photographs, in the corner of my eye I was really watching certain things going on.
I immediately recognized Finola Hughes and Michael Easton practicing a scene not too far from me.
Billy Miller was strolling along and Michelle Stafford waved to us as she walked by our group – gorgeous as always.
And then there was a special conversation we had with Nancy Lee Grahn. Not yet in her GH wardrobe, with curler in her hair, she graciously took some time to chat with us on the set.
Of course, these days there’s so much talk about how Meghan Markle’s father, Thomas Markle, was the lighting guy on the General Hospital set for years. Yes, Meghan Markle apparently visited the set, just like you or I would visit our father’s workplace. But there’s more. Meghan Markle in fact was given a small role, what they call an “under five” role – with less than 5 sentences. She appeared in the background as a nurse!
I got to actually pretend to be a nurse in the same exact spot! Keep reading to see the photos!
Lighting and Props
Speaking of lighting, it was incredible. The set was extremely bright – there was no hiding flaws here (in fact, I have a few photos of myself I wasn’t that excited about – must be why actors wear so much makeup)!
Everywhere I turned there were props.
Wedding ring setswere attached to nametags and safety pins.
There were racks and racks of clothes.
There were carts of beverages used to fill actors’ drinks. Fun Fact: With beer, they often just use non-alcoholic beer.
Crumpled up pieces of paper were spotted everywhere, especially behind certain areas not seen by the cameras. Scenes finished, papers discarded.
Actual General Hospital Backgrounds
With the help of some of my favorite bloggers, we set off to have some fun on the set.
Here, my friend Barb from RuralMom.com and I play nurses in Port Charles, in the exact spot where Meghan Markle did.
What do you think? I hope GH comes calling – this could be a new career! Ha! I should really post the outtakes of the scenes – we had such fun!
Then it was off the courtroom where even more shenanigans were had by our entire group.
Every soap opera has a courtroom. There’s always trouble brewing!
This was perhaps the largest scene on set, as I am always surprised by how cameras make everything look so much bigger than it really is.
As you can see here, all 25 of us Disney bloggers found a role to play.
As for me, I got the coveted role of prosecuting attorney. Now this is a show I want to see!
He looks scared doesn’t he?
Meeting Frank Valentini, and Joshua Swickard
A special treat during the General Hospital set visit for us was sitting down with Executive Producer Frank Valentini, and Joshua Swickard, who plays “Detective Harrison Chase” on ABC’s General Hospital.
We enjoyed mini bundt cakes to celebrate their 55th anniversary, and chatted with them about the show, their experiences, and something that was near and dear to their heart – the Nurse’s Ball.
The General Hospital Nurse’s Ball
General Hospital hosts an annual Nurses Ball, this year sponsored by Olay. Founded in 1994 by Port Charles resident Lucy Coe (Lynn Herring), the Nurses Ball is one of fictional Port Charles’ most glamorous charity events, dedicated to HIV/AIDS awareness and research.
The Nurse’s Ball returns on WEDNESDAY, MAY 16th, and airs through MONDAY MAY 21st. We actually had a sneak peek and watched part of Joshua Swickard’s performance. You won’t want to miss it. I couldn’t get a certain song out of my head in the hours that followed.
This year, celebrity guest appearances include “The Chew”’s Carla Hall and “The Bachelor”’s Nick Viall. In her debut performance, Hall takes on an infamous role decades in the making; while Viall joins Aurora media maven Nina Clay (Michelle Stafford) on the red carpet, as they welcome viewers into what promises to be a memorable night. From Sam McCall’s (Kelly Monaco) stunning arrival to Sonny Corinthos’ (Maurice Benard) unwavering support and Jason Morgan’s (Steve Burton) tireless search for answers, as well as never-before- seen musical performances and a surprise proposal, the Nurses Ball promises to be
this year’s can’t-miss event.
Take a look…
Our General Hospital set visit was an incredible experience, one I won’t soon forget!
Watch General Hospital Weekdays on ABC (check your local listings) or streaming or on the app.