In film and television, the magic of the camera brings the actor up close so that all the nuances and subtleties of a performance can come to life as they never could on stage. In the days of silent movies, without benefit of words but with their faces and their talents, stars found ways to reach out to their audiences with merely the strength of their emotions and their ability to project universal, heartfelt stories. These days, some stars are still capable of this kind of performance, and one of them is on our daytime TV screens everyday. The unique talents of Mary Beth Evans were on display on Days of Our Lives recently, when the actress was called upon to drop her mask and expose her character’s broken heart.
As Kayla Johnson on Days of Our Lives, Mary Beth Evans has run the gamut of emotions, from the elation of a honeymoon in the Orient with the man of her heart, to the desolation of suffering the indignity and violence of rape. The recent Marina storyline and the revelation that Steve was married to this woman from his past culminated with Kayla confronting Steve in the hospital. The swirling emotions of the moment were vividly etched in Mary Beth’s soft features. Her eyes revealed not only Kayla’s anger at Steve for lying to her, but her intense love for him as father of her unborn child. There was also a deep sadness in her forced smile at Steve’s eye bandaged and hurt, reflecting how her heart broke at the sight of him scarred as he was before. And as that scene and the rest unfolded, Mary Beth proved once again her incredible ability to convey the deepest of emotions, to make the viewer want to reach out to her as a friend. Later scenes featured other aspects of Mary Beth’s well of talent. When Kayla went into the hospital to have a sonogram done, to see her baby still in the fetus, the mixed emotions played in Mary Beth’s eyes. Incredibly, the actress was watching her very own real baby since they used Mary Beth’s sonogram for the show. Still, it was Mary Beth in performance, and her emotions that had to become Kayla’s. While Steve watched from behind a screen, Kayla’s longing and disappointment in him was on her face. In the scene that followed, Mary Beth and Stephen Nichols revealed the secret of their particular chemistry when Steve reached out to his estranged wife, begging her to listen to him, telling her about the miracle they had created and had just seen on the sonogram monitor. Gently touching her pregnant belly, Steve and Mary Beth played the scene with beauty and dignity, but even more, with love.
SOU salutes Mary Beth Evans for the depth and range of her talent and her ability to make us open our hearts and share the feelings. —AJW