Play It Again, Kate!
Edie Lehmann went from tickling the
ivories to pulling our heart strings
by Janet Di Lauro, Daytime TV, August
"She's sung back-up for
music world sensations like Aretha Franklin, Patti Austin, James Ingram, and Madonna (to
name a few!). She's had the incredible good fortune of once having 53 national commercials
airing simultaneously! She even spent years performing as a concert pianist. But
Edie Lehmann had never
taken an acting lesson in her life when she snared the role of Katherine Delafield on
General Hospital. She literally stumbled into the job by accident.
'Katherine had already
been cast out of New York,' explains Edie. 'But since the character is a pianist, my hands
were going to be used for the playing scenes. I stopped by GH studios so the producers
could take a look at my hands and make sure they'd match the actress's who they'd already
Instead, in an odd twist
of fate, Edie wound up stealing the show- not to mention the part! Now, she's embarking on
a brand new career, and it's turning out to be a lot more than she bargained for.
So, you went to 'audition
your hands' and wound up an actress!
Edie: 'More or less.
(She laughs.) I remember being kind of goofy when I met Bob Bardo (coordinating producer).
I held up my hands and said, "Will these hands do?" He said, "I'd like you
to meet Marvin Page (the casting director)." I met him and he asked me to come back
the next day to read with an actor. I said, "Sure, what for?" So I did. That's
when I met Tristan Rogers (Robert). He worked on the scene with me, then asked me to do it
for Wes Kenney, which I later did in his office. The scene called for me to get angry. Wes
had me do it a few times. Finally, he said, "Do it once more, but this time get
really angry." And I did! I slammed the door to his office. Something fell off the
wall, a clock broke, and a ceramic dog on his table smashed to pieces. I kind of made a
Were you at all reluctant
about giving up your other careers?
Edie: 'I'm still
reluctant. (She laughs.) Actually, I'm doing both at the moment. I'm still working as a
singer- usually at night or sometimes on my days off. I got my General Hospital part on a
Friday and that very night had a concert to do with Patti Austin. So, I sang that night
and studied my script during intermission.'
It must have been hard
learning to memorize pages and pages of dialogue?
Edie: 'Well, I lost 14
pounds! And it was all from nerves. I couldn't get a thing.'
Did you have stage fright
your first day of work?
Edie: 'I think I have
stage fright every time the camera goes on. My first day I couldn't remember my first
line. I've had to learn how to relax in front of the camera. I've found that when I do my
memory comes back, and I can remember my lines. I've been a pianist and a singer for
years. I love to be a ham. I know that deep down inside I love this somehow. So I just do
Tell me a little bit
about your musical background...
Edie: 'I've been taking
piano lessons since I was 3 1/2 years old. I've always been the kind of person who's
wanted to do a little bit of everything, and that's what wound up happening to me. I was a
concert pianist until I was 20. I'd been a singer prior to that. My singing career started
when I was 16. I had written this gospel song and one of my best friends, Kathy Lee
Gifford, recorded it. She asked me to sing back-up. That was my very first job. The
producer liked me and hired me for other things- commercials and other records.
Eventually, I met Patti Austin and we hit it off. We did a lot of singing together for ten
years. I've worked with a lot of people. I was on Aretha Franklin's comeback album and
sang at a command performance with her in England in 1981. In 1982, I did a concert tour
with Quincy Jones, Patti Austin and James Ingram. I've worked with Johnny Mathis, Pat
Boone, Herbie Hancock, Belinda Carlisle... I also did a duet with Rick Springfield on his
Tao album and sang on Jack Wagner's second album.'
Have you considered
taking acting lessons, or do you just consider yourself to be naturally gifted?
Edie: 'I'm not sure
about the natural gift part. I think I'll leave that up to the fans who are watching me.
Since I've gotten on the show, I have taken about six coaching lessons. Plus Wes Kenny,
Marlena Laird (a GH director), and Tristan have all been giving me acting tips all the way
down the line. I pride myself on one thing. I adore direction. In my line of work as a
singer and as a voice-over person that's all I've ever done is take direction.'
What kinds of tips have
Edie: 'The best advice
Tristan's given has been telling me not to act, which is wonderful because I
don't know how to anyway! He's always telling me to be natural... just to be myself.'
When you first started on
the show, what were you most frightened of?
Edie: 'I guess I was
scared to death of looking like I didn't know what I was doing. I'm a perfectionist. If I
can't do something well, I'd just as soon give it up. I quickly learned how to be a
gracious beginner. I couldn't expect perfection from myself right away. I had to work
slowly at my own speed.'
What did you find to be
the most pleasant surprise of this job?
Edie: 'I had been warned
about Tristan's ad-libbing. I'd read about it in interviews with people who have worked
with him before. But I've found that I actually prefer it. I prefer a more spontaneous
kind of acting. Not being trained as an actress, what I basically do is listen. I'm a good
listener. And I've found I can adjust to everything. Tristan can change his words, and I
Were you warned about his
outrageous sense of humor?
Edie: 'Oh, I zeroed in
on that the moment I met him. He's got this witty, clever sense of humor. Actually, we're
both very silly off camera. We do funny voices and joke around all the time. We've really
become very good pals.'
Having been a fan of GH
and having seen Tristan's other leading ladies fail, what have you learned so you won't
make the same mistakes?
Edie: 'That's a very
interesting question. I'll try to answer it as honestly as I can. My object on the show is
to make sure that Katherine has an identity that is apart from Robert. I want the audience
to realize Katherine really isn't looking for a man. She's not someone who needs a man's
protection. She's a strong lady. I think that's what's different between her and a lot of
other women he's been involved with. Katherine's career has taken first priority in her
life. I'm also not trying to have Katherine grow into one, two, or three year part. When
her run on the show is finished, it's finished! I don't have visions of her and Robert
turning into a super couple. I don't necessarily see them getting married and having kids
or anything like that. Right now, I just see Katherine and Robert having fun with one
How do you feel about
upcoming love scenes on the show?
Edie: 'I don't know what
they're like, but I can tell you one thing. I'm very comfortable with Tristan as a person.
If our rapport on-screen is going to be the same as it is off-screen, we're going to have
a lot of fun with those scenes. Yes, they should be very interesting...'"