Mary Beth Evans: Sweetness Turns Dream Girl
Soap Opera Weekly, August 25, 1992
By Janet Di Lauro
For six years Mary Beth Evans was the epitome of sugar and spice as Days of our Lives’ Kayla Brady Johnson. (Her character was even nicknamed Sweetness.) So it seems fitting that Evans be cast as a “dream girl” in the play All This and Moonlight, a romantic comedy by Charles R. Johnson currently at California’s Beverly Hills Playhouse.
Evans, who’s been away from daytime for three months, was asked to do the project by the play’s producers, Timothy Dale Agee and Brittain Frye (ex-Bone, Santa Barbara), who perform in the play as well. “They called me up because they knew my work from Days of Our Lives, and thought I would be right for the part of Ellie,” she says, describing her character as “really lively and a lot of fun. Kayla became very ‘un-fun’ on my last year at Days. I was very interested in doing a comedy, because it had been so long since I had played anyone who laughed.”
The premise of the play, coupled with the producers’ “flexibility,” enticed Evans. “The producers said they would work around my schedule,” she explains, “They even got a different actress to perform in Sunday matinees (Suzanne Tara, who plays Remi on General Hospital) because I told them I would like to be with my kids on weekends. Everything worked out so well, I just couldn’t pass it up.”
All This and Moonlight is about a bachelor named Ned (Agee) who’s totally captivated by Ellie. Evans explains their history: “Ned and Ellie have known one another since they were kids. They’re best friends. They’ve always been attracted to each other and have dated, but Ned and Ellie have the kind of relationship where they spar all the time. Eventually, Ellie went off to become a film actress. She ditched Ned because her career was more important to her. He stayed behind to do photography, and he never forgot her.”
Throughout All this and Moonlight, Ned has both real and fantasy encounters with Ellie. “Ellie is Ned’s dream woman who gets in the way of his life and hampers all his potential romances,” Evans says.
Also in the production are Denise Gentile (ex-Vanessa, SB) as the hypersensitive Andrea; Margaret Michaels (ex-Santana Andrade, SB; Jeannie, Dallas) as Nora; Jeannine Angelique as Alice, a woman who’s passionately learning to speak French; and Frye as Rick, the guy who keeps fixing up Ned with blind dates.
All This and Moonlight marks Evans’ first time onstage since she performed Love Letters opposite her former Days leading man Stephen Nichols (ex-Steve Johnson) over a year ago. “That was terrifying,” she recalls. “When you’re on a soap opera, you’re with the same friends every day performing in this warehouse atmosphere. No one’s there watching you work. But when you’re out on-stage, there’s this whole audience. It’s very scary.
“Yet I think it’s a good idea to get back to stage work again. And I’ll keep going with it. Who knows? Maybe I’ll overcome my fear,” Evans says with a laugh.
[All This And Moonlight ran from August 14-September 13, 1992]