Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Atlanta Fan Event- A Soap Fan’s Adventure

Atlanta Fan Event - A Soap Fan’s Adventure
By Carolyn LeVine Topol

March 19, 2016: It’s day 1 of the Star Struck Fan Events, Inc. - Atlanta event. What happens when a lifelong soap opera fan gets the chance to meet seven outstanding actors? You enjoy a high that no drug could compare with!

That’s what happened this morning. The adrenaline rush, from taking a train from Connecticut to Washington, DC, then a car, with friends, the rest of the way to Atlanta, enabled me to stay up until 3:00 am Friday morning. From the moment of our arrival, the endorphins kicked in, as did the inevitable anticipatory rush of energy.

From left to right: Vincent Irizarry, Jordi Vilasuso, Marie Wilson, Guy Wilson, Eric Martsolf, Judi Evans and Bryan Datillo/credit Carolyn Topol
Once the first scheduled event begans — an intimate ‘Meet & Greet’ with actors, Bryan Datillo, Judi Evans, Vincent Irizarry, Eric Martsolf, Jordi Vilasuso, Guy Wilson, and Marie Wilson — the excitement escalates. Enjoying a private moment to chat with each actor, and get an autograph, is far more gratifying than any stage door interaction I have had, fighting crowds for a quick signature, frequently coupled with an unintentional elbow in the ribs.

The novelty of soap star events allows fans to get up close and personal with individual stars, briefly converse, and get a taste of what makes a quality performer. The added bonus is learning that these are not people who shy away from fans, but embrace them, and are genuinely grateful for their support.

Judi Evans, currently Adrienne Johnson Kiriakis on Days of Our Lives, expressed it best when she acknowledged that without the dedication of the fans, there would be no shows.
Marie Wilson, Carolyn Topol, and Judi Evans; Photo Credit Carolyn Topol
Photo opportunities are one of the perks of these events. They afford time to take multiple pictures with any, or all, of the actors in a relaxed atmosphere. Conversation is encouraged, and even a little clowning around comes into play. Think about Eric Martsolf (portrays Brady Black on Days) doing a spontaneous imitation of Hannibal Lecter — entertainment comes in a variety of ways.

Now it’s time for me to get my voice ready for the biggest challenge of all (not staying awake) — switching from talking to singing — not my forte. The night ahead promises to incorporate a whole new level of celebration, as actors will be taking the stage with a select group of fans, to sing Karaoke. All attendees will be enjoying the fun of a night club atmosphere of singing, dancing, and drinking along with the actors. Having friends with me adds a special bonus!

Although I should be tired by now—running on less than ten hours sleep over the past two nights—there isn’t a moment I feel even the slightest bit exhausted. There’s something to be said about the impact of an ongoing adrenaline rush!

Guy Wilson and Carolyn Topol: Photo Credit Carolyn Topol
Having a small group, dinner environment with one of the actors, was incredible. I had the great fortune to sit with Guy Wilson. For a such a young man, he has the intelligence and elegance to carry on conversations with a variety of people, on a variety of subjects, without missing a beat. Our discussions about his future film projects and sports were my particular favorites, especially with baseball season just a pitch away.

This special dinner, for event Sponsor-level participants, ended with a rousing game of “Guess the Stars’ Favorite Song”. The winner only had three correct matches — I wish I could say it was me, but I topped out with one.

The Cocktail Party/Karaoke Night was a blast! Due to some hotel-related issues, each fan was given coupons for two free drinks, and I’m pretty sure everyone used them. With the party started, and the music cranked up, everyone danced, chatted, and drank. Judi Evans, Marie Wilson (who plays Summer), and Eric Martsolf showed us all some serious dance moves! Vincent Irizarry’s incredible singing voice impressed everyone.

Guy Wilson and Bryan Datillo: Photo Credit Carolyn Topol
In addition, every actor remained enthusiastic and engaging. They all socialized with anyone, and everyone, who strolled, or danced, their way. As the evening progressed, fans were treated to a special “father/son” Karaoke duet of “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, from Bryan Datillo and Guy Wilson (Lucas Horton and Will Horton).

Jordi Vilasuso, Carolyn Topol, and Vincent Irizarry; Photo Credit Carolyn Topol
As a personal added bonus, I won the final bid on a special silent auction item — soap-related, of course. I won an autograph portfolio, filled with signed photos of several All My Children stars, highlighted by Days newcomers, Jordi Vilasuso and Vincent Irizarry (Dario Hernandez and Deimos Kiriakis). It was the final highlight of a night filled with partying — and I may have even attempted a little Karaoke myself — thank goodness for liquid relaxation.


March 20, 2016: Bleary-eyed, but still raring to go, many participate in a full morning of traveling through Atlanta on a Walking Dead/Hunger Games bus tour, including site visits and anecdotes regarding both productions.

Eric Martsolf and Carolyn Topol: Photo Credit Carolyn Topol
Following the bus trip, a larger group enjoyed another wonderful meal with all the actors. Each actor sat at a different table. After a relaxing lunch, the actors dispersed, completing an organized rotation of tables, enabling everyone to have one last chance to visit with, laugh with, and enjoy photo opportunities. I now have MULTIPLE pictures with every actor at the event (there’s never enough) — not to mention, an added respect for all of them. No matter how tired they may have been as the weekend progressed, Bryan, Judi, Vincent, Eric, Jordi, Guy, and Marie gave their all to make the weekend special for all attendees.

When the event, sadly, came to its end, everyone hugged, sharing special farewell moments, with the actors and friends. Promises to stay in touch were welcome words.

To insure my promises are kept, I know I will most definitely be attending more fan events in the future!

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