During a visit with Mary Beth Evans at home, she discusses where her next daytime home will be —in Salem or Port Charles
By Damon Romine
Even if you’ve never watched DAYS OF OUR LIVES, you know who Mary Beth Evans is—Kayla Brady Johnson. During her six years on the show, the actress grew to a stellar form of notoriety as the prettier half of the Patch (Stephen Nichols) and Kayla supercouple.
To her fans dismay, Mary Beth left the series a year ago. “My big plan was to go out and do a bunch of things,” she remembers, “and then I got pregnant the next month.” The first two times around, Mary Beth worked on DAYS though her pregnancy. In 1987, with oldest son Danny, the show disguised her with layered clothes and a tent-sized wedding dressing (Kayla was married to Jack then). For Katie, they were a bit more kind and worked her birth into the storyline as that of baby Stephanie.
This time, the actress didn’t have to worry about the show would react to her pregnant state, but she still wanted to work. Pregnancy definitely limited the types of roles that she could audition for. She appeared in a Los Angeles stage play and did a couple of episodic guest appearances before calling a time-out. “I actually did a MURDER SHE WROTE when I was six months pregnant,” she admits. “By the end of it, none of my clothes were fitting and I was feeling so uncomfortable and just wanted to go home.
“Since I worked my entire pregnancy the first two times, I really kind of wanted to just go home and sit around for a little bit. It was nice and I really go a lot of rest.” On New Year’s, Mary Beth went into pre-term labor and was forced to sit out the remaining two months. “My husband (plastic surgeon Michael Schwartz) was like, ‘Your job is to just take a nap every day,’ ” she jokes. “So it was nice to take it easy for a change and not work myself to death.”
On March 3, Mary Beth gave what she considers an “easy birth” to Matthew Joseph. The wide-eyed baby is smothered with attention from is older brother and sister, both still tots themselves, and their dalmatian Rocky. Danny, is five and in pre-school, but to hear him tell it, he’s seven and in fourth grade. Wishful thinking from a small boy with a big imagination.
“He’s high-maintenance,” Mary Beth sighs as she watches Danny race from room to room. In a flash, he’s changed out of his dress clothes into a Batman costume for the family portrait. “Go back upstairs and change,” his mother directs. “No,” he responds. The word shutters through the room, followed by the deafening silence as the two stare each other down. Mom wins this round and it’s obviously a battle that has been fought before. “He’s told me ‘no’ ever since he figured out that he was smarter than me,” she says in mock seriousness.
Katie is the quiet one and seems to derive some sort of pleasure in her brother’s antics. She’ll gladly follow him into mischief unless you distract her with a good Dr. Seuss book. Danny shows off his new Whoopee Cushion and Katie becomes his unknowing “victim.” “You gassed! You gassed!” he chants relentlessly. “Someone gave that to him at Matthew’s bris,” Mary Beth reveals, “and he was going around making that noise at the ceremony.”
Motherhood is at the top of Mary Beth’s list, but as you’re reading this, she’s mapping out her return to acting. “I just started auditioning again,” she says, not really believing it herself. “My agent called me with these two pilots and a commercial. I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet. I’m barely out of my bathrobe by noon.’ But I actually felt so much better after I got out there and back to real life. You sort of get bogged down in this whole thing. My plan right now is to get back to work…whatever that is.”
Whatever may be a welcome return to soaps, not so much out of a desire to recreate the past, but because of the time that she could still spend with her family. “When I did the episodics, I was getting home at 11:00 at night,” she says. “So I would like to do a soap again so that I could get home at 5 or 6. It’s just a little more normal life when you have children.” The actress says that working in primetime is certainly appealing to her—and her agent—but the long hours and any on-location work are too prohibitive right now.
There have been persistent rumors of DAYS reuniting Patch and Kayla and of GENERAL HOSPITAL wooing Mary Beth to join their show, but so far it’s nothing more than speculation. “Everyone knows that I was pregnant, so I don’t really think that people realize that I’m back out there and ready yet,” she admits. “But Shelley (Curtis, GH supervising producer) and I are good friends, so she’s always calling me. She called me up a couple of months ago and said, ‘I have the greatest part for you, but you’re pregnant.’ ” Curtis and Mary Beth met when they worked at DAYS and she says that it’s this relationship which may land her in Port Charles. “That’s a big possibility because she’s recruiting her friends and we’re really great friends.”
The actress continues to receive a flood of and mail requesting her to return to DAYS, but she’s had no direct contact with the show about bringing Kayla back. But frankly, she says, Kayla will have to change before she considers returning. “If it was a good story and if they could tell me somewhat what the story was going to be, then maybe I would,” she hints. “At the time I left, I was doing things that were so against my character and they couldn’t promise me that they weren’t going to do that anymore. But I like it there. It’s family.”
“I’ve heard some talk about reuniting Patch and Kayla, and from all the letters that I get, that’s what everybody wants,” Mary Beth reports. Patch supposedly died at the hands of Lawrence Alamain, but a switched coffin has cast doubts upon his untimely end. “I don’t know who they’d write it…or how it would all work. It might be more fun to just go to GENERAL HOSPITAL where it would be new stories and a new character.” Whatever Mary Beth does, we’ll be glad to see her back on the screen.
Photos by Kenneth Bank