Former OLTL star Brynn Thayer addresses life and death in Let Me In.
Actress Brynn Thayer, beloved as Jenny Wolek Renaldi on One Life to Live, wrote and directed a stage production of Let Me In. The play, which examines life and loss, is based on a personal tragedy in Thayer’s life. Let Me In is set to premiere on the Los Angeles stage later this month. The actress sat down with Soap Hub to talk about the play and her off-screen devotion to her pal, the late Michael Zaslow.
Brynn Thayer Addresses Grief in Let Me In
Let Me In tells the story of a bride’s best friend and her intended groom when a wedding becomes a funeral. “It’s a journey of three people and how they navigate grief and loss,” Thayer tells Soap Hub. “It’s a dark, funny, darkish comedy.”
Thayer says the origins of Let Me In go back to her early days after she was cast on OLTL as Jenny Wolek Vernon, sister to Karen Wolek (Judith Light). That’s when the actress’s roommate and childhood friend was killed in a horrible car crash. Thayer and other loved ones were left to process and deal with extreme loss.
“Grief is always with all of us,” she suggests. “We have to figure out where to keep it in our minds and bodies while we go through our daily tasks.” This isn’t the first stage production Thayer created in order to help her deal with the Grim Reaper. “I wrote The Eulogy in preparation for my father’s death,” the actress/playwright says. “He was healthy at the time. But that was the only way I knew how to prepare, and, of course, you’re never fully prepared.”
Casting Let Me In
Let Me In’s cast includes Rachael Meyers (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) as sports reporter Red Casey and Bryan McKinley (The Ghost and the Whale, with General Hospital star Maurice Benard, Sonny) as her best friend’s fiancé, Bobby Hawk. Jorge Garcia (Lost) plays Hamilton Steele, a New York cop who’s about to retire. Thayer was familiar with the actors’ work as they all attend the same acting class. “I like to work with people I know,” she says. “I tried to infuse them into my writing. They’re awesome.”
Thayer hopes that audience members leave the theater with a greater understanding of the inevitable. “Some people don’t like to talk about [death] at all,” she says. “I find that if there’s any subject I hesitate talking about, then I need to go to it rather than away from it. The more we understand that we’re all the same, the better off we’ll all be.”
Brynn Thayer Remembers Michael Zaslow
Jenny found, arguably, the love of her life in pianist David Renaldi. David was played by Daytime Emmy-winner Michael Zaslow (best known as Roger Thorpe on Guiding Light). Zaslow was on GL in the mid-1990s when he became ill. Thayer accompanied her former TV husband to Houston, where he was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), AKA Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“Michael needed someone to go with him while his wife Susan was with their two beautiful young daughters,” Thayer recalls. She was happy to be with him during an incredibly difficult time. “We needed some hope, something to look forward to.” To that end, Thayer and Zaslow met with ABC Daytime executives and pitched the idea of David, who last appeared on OLTL in 1986, returning to Llanview with ALS. (Jenny’s absence was explained by her presumed death in an avalanche in Switzerland.)
“God bless them, they did it,” Thayer says about ABC employing Zaslow from 1997-98 (the year he died) because that’s when he needed support the most. “It gave Michael a purpose. It gave all of us one. We started raising money for Lou Gehrig’s disease.”
How to See Let Me In by Brynn Thayer
If you’re in the Los Angeles area and would like to see Let Me In, go to Theatre 68 for ticket information. Performances are Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. from February 25 to April 2. General admission to all performances is $35. Theatre 68 Arts Complex is located at 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601.
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