Star Track: Life After Soaps
RH's Ilene Kristen: Make Room for Sister
Soap Opera Weekly, November 17, 1998
By Tonya Lensch
Article Provided by Carol
Playing a bold woman is nothing new to Ilene Kristen. Her memorable soap roles (ex-Madeline Thompson, Another World, ex-Norma Gilpin, Loving, ex-Delia Reid Ryan Coleridge Crane, Ryan's Hope) embodied spunk. Kristen now plays another spirited woman, Lee, in Scott McPherson's dramatic comedy Marvin's Room, in Nyack, N.Y.
"Lee hasn't seen her sister, Bessie, in about 18 years. Bessie has been caretaker to their father and great aunt. Bessie is very unselfish, very giving; she's a ball of light. I am kind of a ball of dysfunction," Kristen says in character, with a laugh.
After several failed relationships and struggling to raise two sons on her own, Lee faces new crises. "Her reaction to everything is very quick-tempered. She has a son who has behavior problems, and he's burned the house down. They're living in the basement of a church, and she put her son in a mental institution."
When Bessie falls ill and needs help, Lee changes her tune. "Lee's sister needs a bone-marrow transplant. I am going to be tested, and my two kids are going to be tested," Kristen explains. "Even though they haven't been speaking, Lee's got the attitude: 'Well, it's my sister, so I'll do it. I may not get along with her, but I will do it.' Lee's feisty and dysfunctional, but in the end, she takes responsibility."
Kristen's past daytime roles were definitely a fun ride for the actress. "It's always been a very creative job for me. I had a great time [on RH]. They really had some outrageous stuff for me - you could have Delia do anything." Kristen isn't sure any other daytime roles today could compare to Delia. "I think all of those shows have gotten a little bit polite," she says, chuckling.
Kristen keeps up with fellow RH alums Nancy Addison (Jillian Coleridge Ryan) and Ron Hale (Roger Coleridge; he now plays Mike Corbin on General Hospital and Port Charles). "They should have me come on the show as Mike's girlfriend."
Marvin's Room runs through Nov. 22 at the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center in Nyack. Call (914) 358-6333 for tickets.