Soap opera fans from around the world will descend on Marco Island this weekend, as they have for the past 13 years, for Soapfest.
With only four daytime soaps on the air today — "The Young and the Restless," "The Bold and the Beautiful," "General Hospital" and "Days of Our Lives" — one might suspect putting on this event would be more difficult now than ever.
But organizer Pat Berry has put together an impressive list of actors from soaps then and now. The theater, film and reality stars will donate their time and talent for the charity weekend, which begins Friday with events through Sunday.
What stars are being pulled out of the sky and into the heart of southwest Florida?
A Marco favorite, Walt Willey, is scheduled to return this year. Willey is best known for his 25-year role as Jackson Montgomery on "All My Children." Lately, he's been touring the country with a show on Wild Bill Hickok, which he wrote and tested with island audiences last year.
Also on the list is Tom Pelphrey, best known to soap fans as Jonathan Randall on "Guiding Light." His television credits include "The Good Wife," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "CSI: Miami," among others.
Then there's Christian Jules LeBlanc, who joined the cast of "The Young and the Restless" in 1991 as attorney Michael Baldwin. LeBlanc has won three Daytime Emmy Awards for outstanding lead actor in a drama series.
One of the youngest attendees is 17-year-old Eddie Alderson (Matthew Buchanan on "One Life to Live"). Alderson starred alongside Mark Ruffalo in the 2007 film "Reservation Road," and later played Sanford Clark in the 2008 film "Changeling."
His real-life sister and "OLTL" co-star Kristen Alderson will also be here. She began playing the role of Starr Manning in 1998 and has taken her character to "General Hospital."
Adding to the event's girl power is Melissa Archer, "OLTL's" Natalie. In April 2003, Melissa was honored with a Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Newcomer.
Jessica Collins (Avery Clark, "Y&R") also will be here. You may remember her as Dinah Lee Mayberry on "Loving." In addition to acting, Jessica is a food writer and chef.
Susan Haskell got her start on the syndicated TV series "My Secret Identity." But she comes to Soapfest via credentials on "OLTL," where she won an Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in the groundbreaking storyline of a young rape survivor.
Jeff Branson originated the role of Jonathan Lavery on "All My Children" in 2004 and also will be at the event. Soap fans have also seen him in "Guilding Light." He can currently be seen as an undercover FBI agent on "Y&R."
Frank Eudy, last year's "Big Brother" contestant, part-time Naples resident and son of wrestler Sid Vicious, will appear as well.
Also scheduled to attend are:
Thorsten Kaye, who has been in "OLTL," "Port Charles," and "AMC." He currently stars in NBC's "Smash."
Eric Martsolf, "Passions";
Ethan Winthrop; "Days" Brady Black;
Sean Ringgold, who played Shaun Evans on "OLTL"; and
Erik Valdez, whose television credits include "90210," "New Girl," "Breaking In," "Numb3rs," "CSI: Miami," "The O.C.," and "Gilmore Girls."
The three days of nonstop festivities include: A Night of Stars dinner at Bistro Soleil, Cruisin' and Schmoozin' with the Stars aboard the Marco Island Princess, Celebrity Karaoke Bar Bash at the Bistro Soleil and A Night at the Theater with Tom Pelphrey at the Rose History Auditorium on Marco Island.
Tickets for all events can be purchased online at www.soapfest.com or by calling the Soapfest office at 239-394-0080. Theater performance tickets are also available at Centennial Bank at 615 Elkcam Circle or at the Marco Island Historical Society Gift Shop at 180 S. Heathwood Drive. Proceeds will benefit local children's charities.
Bill Green is a Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com journalist and a professional couch potato. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with him at facebook.com/billdgreen.