All that's missing are the mullets. A trip to the General Hospital soundstage these days feels like an express pass to the 1980s, especially during the filming of the big fan-fave event known as the Nurses Ball. The red-carpet soiree — airing April 5, 8 and 9 as part of the soap's 50th anniversary celebration — has Rick Springfield returning as Dr. Noah Drake, who will take to the stage and rock out "Jessie's Girl." Off on the sidelines, Frisco (Jack Wagner) is trying to woo back his Reagan-era love Felicia (Kristina Wagner), while Anna (Finola Hughes) is once again in the arms of her Duke (Ian Buchanan). And look, it's the long-lost Nurse B obbie (Jackie Zeman)! Fitness guru Richard Simmons, another '80s fixture in Port Charles, is on hand as the charity gala's pushy choreographer. But not even he can get these oldies sweatin'.
"Getting back together for the Nurses Ball has been the coolest thing ever," says Lynn Herring, who is juggling 13 gown changes as zany emcee Lucy Coe. "Finola, Kristina, Jackie and I have been in hysterics reminiscing about how we'd get pregnant at the same time and drive the producers crazy. It's been 25 or 30 years for most of us, yet it's like no time has passed at all."
Tell that to Springfield. "When I started on GH, I was the new young stud in town," notes the singer. "Now there's a little girl running around on the show calling me grandfather. I'm like, 'Whoa! How the hell did this happen?'" Springfield recalls signing up for the soap in 1981 "thinking it was for blue-haired ladies who ironed. It ended up changing my life."
The younger gens won't get short shrift, of course. Kelly Monaco's Sam hits the floor with Dancing With the Stars alum Maksim Chmerkovskiy (brother Val wasn't available due to his hectic DWTS schedule). And the Ugly Betty—esque Sabrina (Teresa Castillo) blossoms into a swan, much to the delight of Patrick (Jason Thompson). Will the heartthrob doc finally declare his love? And, if so, wouldn't this be the perfect night for his "dead" wife Robin (Kimberly McCullough) to show up?
"This would in so many ways be the ideal time for Robin to walk through the door," concurs head writer Ron Carlivati. "It would be a total game-changer but, while I'm promising a whole lot of surprises at the Nurses Ball, I'm not promising what they'll be."
Those ultimate '80s icons Luke and Laura (Tony Geary and Genie Francis) won't be in attendance because they're busy hopping choppers to hunt for their daughter Lulu (Julie Berman), a hot pursuit that leads them to the evil Helena Cassadine (played in 1981 by Elizabeth Taylor and now by Constance Towers). The caper also involves the disappearance of the Haunted Star yacht — a gift from Helena to Luke and Laura at their famous 1981 wedding — and it gave Geary a serious case of déjà vu.
"These episodes are pure nostalgia — the kind of high-stakes, high-energy, really well-conceived plotting that's reminiscent of the Luke and Laura glory days," says the seven-time Emmy'd actor. "When I saw in the script that Genie and I would be getting on a helicopter to go chase down Lulu, I figured we'd fake it on the set with CGI or something. But then [exec producer] Frank Valentini says, 'We're going out tomorrow morning! I'll have a real helicopter in the parking lot!' It reminded me of the great Gloria Monty era when you'd get a script and think, 'How are we ever going to shoot this?' Then Gloria would suddenly say, 'C'mon, honey, we've got a boat!' or 'You're jumping out of an airplane. Let's go!'"
Carlivati, who grew up watching all this on TV, says, "We couldn't celebrate the 50th without another epic Luke and Laura adventure. They're no longer a couple, and they may never again be a couple, but their love for each other — like GH itself — is still going strong."