On Friday, May 14th, One Life To Live will air the first episode of an ambitious three episode musical set around Llanview High’s prom. I spoke with two of the show’s teens — Kristen Alderson who has played Starr Manning since she was six years old, and newcomer Kelley Missal, who joined the show a few months ago as Starr’s long lost half sister Dani.
As we chatted, the two seemed like real sisters, giggling and finishing each others’ sentences. They were excited after attending a screening of the musical numbers. They talked about everything from the challenges of staging elaborate production numbers in daytime to their own real life proms.
Which songs are going to be in the musical? How many are original and how many are familiar hits?
Missal: We have about seven original songs and seven established. One of the established songs is “I got a feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. We also have a little 80s throwback “Our Lips Are Sealed.” We really go in every direction.
How did you put together something so elaborate on a daytime budget?
Missal: We had a lot of help. We had all of our producers and directors helping and the choreographers. They all kind of pulled together in a very little amount of time. We had two weeks to shoot it.
Alderson: It was basically a week per episode. But we did so many numbers. They kept adding on. Originally it was twelve numbers and it turned into fourteen.It was really exciting. I had a great time. The Executive Producer [Frank Valentini] really tried everything in his power to make sure we stayed at a reasonable budget but it doesn’t look like we did. It looks like we went all out and spent all kinds of money with the help of every [member] of the cast and crew.
Did you keep making the regular episodes too, or did everything stop for the musical?
Missal: It was mostly the musical. For those three weeks that was the main focus. But there was scenes we did in between that,too. It was kind of weird going back and forth between the musical and regular scenes with no music.
Alderson: Even people who aren’t going to be at the prom, it incorporates them as well. Basically, what happens at the prom affects every single character on the show.
How does the musical that Langston has been working on turn into the prom? Do characters just burst into song like on Glee?
Alderson: Langston (Brittany Underwood) wrote the musical that is called Starr Crossed Lovers. But basically what happens is that characters go into a fantasy world when they talk about their emotions. You never at any point really see Langston’s musical. That’s just what they’re working on. That’s why everyone’s in that whole musical mindset, except for “Starr Crossed Lovers.” That is the song number [from the musical.] It’s actually the first song that you’ll see.
How many songs did the two of you sing?
Alderson: I’m in eight of the numbers.
Missal: I haven’t kept track. I’m in four or five. It was fun for me because I got to work with almost everyone.
Besides the teen characters, who do we get to see singing?
Missal: You’ll see Jessica (Bree Williamson) singing, Brody (Mark Lawson), Leila (Tika Sumpter), Matthew (Eddie Alderson), Blair (Kassie DePaiva). A lot of people are singing that you wouldn’t expect: Roxie (Ilene Kristen) , Ford (David Gregory), and Hannah (Meghann Fahey).
When One Life casts roles,do the casting director make everyone sing,or does the whole cast just happen to be amazing singers?
Alderson: I think that’s why they came up with the idea to do a musical, because a lot of us are singers. When they did the musical a few years ago, they thought it would be cool to showcase that. This year we felt like it was Starr and Langston’s senior year so there should be another musical. Also there are a lot of younger teens who are starting up their storylines. It just so happens that the young teens now are singers too. It’s really cool.
Kelley,did you know you’d be singing when you joined the show?
Missal: I didn’t. But I’m glad I got an opportunity to because it’s a completely different way to express emotions.
Had you ever sung professionally before?
Missal: No. Just community theater when I was little.
How did the production of the musical sequences work?
Alderson: If we were dancing in a number, the day before we would rehearse it in a dance studio. Then that night we would record our song. Then we would film it. It was a very fast process. Basically, learn it, sing it,do it.
Missal: It was good because we got to focus in on the one number, learn everything,shoot it, forget about it and go on to the next number… We had 32 dancers in this musical and they’re all so amazing and talented.
Is there a chance that One Life will become a musical soap all the time?
Alderson: We were joking about that. I would love it. It’s so much fun. But we’re probably going to stick to the regular routine that we’ve been in for a long time. We’re a very musical show in general. We always have celebrity guests on. I hope that we get to do it more often. Hopefully we’ll get a lot of great feedback. We loved watching it.
Kristen, you’re a veteran of three different One Life To Live musicals. How does this one compare to the others?
Alderson: The one three years ago was also a three episode musical. It was for prom night. I think this one takes a lot of that feel and tries to incorporate it, which is really sweet. I would advise anyone who is going to watch this musical to YouTube the other musical so that you have a little idea of the history with it. The other episode was Babes Behind Bars when I was really little and I sang “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” and it was really funny.
Are the songs going to be available on Itunes?
Alderson: The originals are going to be on Itunes May 11. So they come out three days before the actual musical airs. So people will get a big sneak peak if they go to Itunes and get the songs on Tuesday.
If one of the songs turns out to be a hit on Itunes could it end up on the radio?
Alderson: We really, really hope so. There are a couple songs that I think are really worth being on the radio and we’re going to really try.
Missal: Starr Crossed Lovers is something that sounds more mainstream and that I would listen to on my IPod.
Any chance One Life will go on tour like Glee?
Missal: That would be sick and amazing.
Alderson: If they would offer it to us, we would all go.
With young women like Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus topping the charts,have either of you considered coming out with albums of your own?
Alderson: I’ve always loved singing and I’ve always sang on albums. I sang on the One Life,Many Voices album which the One Life cast did for hurricane Katrina relief. I sang on the ABC Valentine’s Day track and a Christmas CD. So I’ve gotten to sing for different things. Doing the musical really satisfies my craving. I would definitely at some point in the future want to sing. I think it’s every girl’s dream to be a singer.
What’s going to happen next for Starr and Cole?
Alderson: Starr and Cole are madly in love with each other. They have a daughter and history including with proms in general, which is what the first Prom Night musical was. It was just a really sweet love story of them trying to get to each other and then kissing in the rain at the end. Their other prom that they went to they thought that they had just lost their baby and they were burying their baby that night so that was a very sad prom for them. This time they just wanted to go to prom and have a normal night. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to turn out that way. They have a lot of troubles going on in their relationship but they’re really trying to hold it together. They don’t agree on a lot but they’re still in love so it will be interesting to see if they can hold on to that love during the course of prom with all the craziness going on.
Who is the right guy for Dani: Matthew or Nate?
Missal: I don’t think she knows at this point. She’s very up in the air about everything. She’s scared of commitment because she’s scared of getting hurt and she’s got her guard up but the dynamics between Dani and Nate and Dani and Matthew are going to be interesting to play out when she finally has her life in order because right now she’s all over the place.
Is Tea (Florencia Lozano) really going to die or will there be a miracle cure for her brain tumor? How will her illness impact Dani?
Missal: We hope she doesn’t die. I think it will be really interesting because there’s obviously going to be a lot that Dani has to go through. I hope that she reaches out to Starr.
You two play sisters, but in real life Kristen and Eddie are siblings. Now that he’s getting a soap romance are you giving him advice?
Alderson: It’s so funny because I tease Kelley and Eddie about it all the time.I’ll be like,”Eddie,Eddie you have to kiss her. You have to really go for it.”He’s like,”Stop.” But then afterward he’ll come up to me and ask,”How did it look?” It’s really cute. I love working with Kelley. I don’t have a sister in real life and I never had one on the show so I think it’s really fun that we get to work together. It’s interesting to see how Starr is with a sister.
Have either of you gone to your proms in real life?
Missal: I’m home schooled so I’m not going to prom.
Alderson: You’ll go to a prom. Eddie will bring you to his prom. I went to three proms. When I was a junior I went to my prom because it’s like a junior and senior prom. Then when I was a senior I went to my own prom and then I went to my friend’s prom in Pennsylvania. So I’ve had two New York proms. My junior prom I brought Tanner Woods who is Bob Woods son. Bob plays Eddie’s Dad, Bo, on the show.
Basically you’re saying ‘One Life To Live’ is a wholesome yet incestuous group of people.
Alderson: Pretty much.