Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rebecca Herbst Can't Be Replaced on 'General Hospital'

Rebecca Herbst Can't be Replaced on General Hospital
By Carolyn LeVine Topol

Rebecca Herbst
It’s no secret in the daytime soap opera world that characters get recast. It happens all the time. Some soap characters get recast so frequently viewers need a who’s who menu to keep them all straight.

However, one soap opera in particular — General Hospital — has appeared to avoid the repetitive recast disorder. Although GH is not immune to the need to recasting, very few established characters on the soap have been recast. In fact, there are many veteran actors who have maintained their roles, on General Hospital, for decades—two examples immediately come to mind — Leslie Charleston as Monica Quartermaine and Genie Francis as Laura Spencer.

Character consistency and longevity are two reasons General Hospital has stood the test of time, maintaining a large, loyal audience. Having watched the soap for several decades, I enjoy the opportunity to see these characters mature, evolve, and in some cases, literally grow up.

Rebecca Herbst as Elizabeth Webber in 1997
This is the case with the role of Elizabeth Webber. Actress, Rebecca Herbst, originated the role of Elizabeth in 1997. As the granddaughter of GH pioneer, Steve Hardy (John Beradino), and daughter of Jeff Webber (Richard Dean Anderson), there is no question of the importance of this legacy character. From the moment Rebecca assumed the role of teen Elizabeth, she made it her own. Having played Elizabeth for nearly twenty years, Rebecca allowed the GH viewers to witness her develop the character and make it her own. Fans watched as Elizabeth met with numerous challenges, including a shocking rape while still in high school, finding herself through artistic expression, falling in love, having children, and falling in love again…and again.

Herbst’s portrayal of Elizabeth, in her recent storyline of dishonesty and betrayal regarding Jason Morgan (Billy Miller), led many fans to dislike ‘sweet’ Nurse Webber. However, Rebecca’s nuanced performance, demonstrating her character’s growth and self-awareness, after the revelation, has enabled viewers to willingly forgive Elizabeth. Considering the extent of Elizabeth’s duplicitous actions, it takes a great actress to begin winning us back so soon.

Rebecca Herbst as Elizabeth with James Nigbor as Jake
Each day we move past Elizabeth’s treachery, the more she redeems herself. Throughout February, it became progressively easier to see the growth in the character. Although still far from completely forgiven, Rebecca’s ongoing nuanced performance enables fans to recall the Elizabeth we watched grow up over the years.

Elizabeth is currently involved in several storylines, and it is easy to see more on the horizon. In addition, Rebecca has on-air chemistry with several actors on GH, opening the door for potential romances for Elizabeth.

It would be nearly impossible to have any recast step into Elizabeth’s shoes with success. As with Kimberly McCullough’s ‘ownership’ of the role of Robin Scorpio, Rebecca Herbst is Elizabeth Webber.

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