Soap Opera Digest - backstage rage

Labor of Love: Mary Beth Evans (Katherine) and Stephen Nichols (Stefan) recently took to the stage for a benefit performance of Love Letters. The performance raised money for a cause dear to both actors: The Aliso Academy for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, a Montessori school in Southern California, founded in part by Evan’s sister, Deborah.

GH’s Stephen and MaryBeth took a cue from former DAYS-mate Richard Biggs.

“Hearing impaired children are mainstreamed there with hearing kids, which has wonderful benefits for all the children,” enthuses the actress. “There’s an instructor who teaches sign language, as well as another teacher who teaches those who can hear simultaneously. It’s not like a deaf child is off to one room. Instead, it makes for a normal school environment.”

Love Letters, which follows a couple’s love story from grade school though adulthood, was directed by Babylon 5’s Richard Biggs (ex-Marcus, Days), who is hard of hearing. “He’s a friend. It was fun to get back together with him,” smiles Evans.

ichols and Evans first became involved in raising funds for the deaf when they portrayed Patch and Kayla on Days. (As fans may remember, Kayla lost her hearing from an explosion caused by the Riverfront Knifer.) “We had a person come

[to the Days set], who taught us to sign every word of our script. At the same time, Stephen and I [were doing] fund-raisers for lots of things. My sister was a private detective then, [and she located some] charities for the hearing impaired for which we could raise some money.”

So began Evan’s and Nichols’ involvement in fund-raising and educational projects for the deaf. Ultimately, Deborah established the Aliso Academy, after discovering a need for schools where the deaf and hearing-impaired kids work alongside hearing children. “Kids just thrive there,” says Evans. “I’d do anything for these children. Maybe Stephen and I will take [this play] on the road. I enjoy doing theater, but the demands of the soap make our time limited. It’s fun, though, and for a great cause.”