Summer officially begins this week, but most soaps already have laid the groundwork for special super-heated seasonal story lines aimed at teens and vacationers by introducing new characters played by rookie actors.
Already it's clear that some of these newcomers are quite talented. We predict that these two, William Fichtner and Rosa Langschwadt, who are starting the summer as a little-known actor and actress, will finish it as stars.
Fichtner (Rod Landry/Cousin Josh on "As the World Turns"): In an era when most young soap heroes are preppies or yuppies, Fichtner's Rod Landry is the type of sympathetic anti-hero who harks back to the era of "General Hospital's" Luke Spencer, who was played by Tony Geary.
Rod is new to Oakdale, but 17 years ago he raped his cousin Iva Snyder (played by Lisa Brown), and that led to the secret birth of Lily Walsh (played by Martha Byrne). The disclosure of the identity of adopted Lily's real parents is scheduled to shock the town this summer, especially unsuspecting father Rod/Josh.
Rod's violent streak is connected to his being abused as a child, and he's also becoming romantically involved with the very married Betsy Andropolous (Lindsay Frost). Fichtner's sensitive, precise acting has been extremely affecting in scenes in which Rod talks about his past mistakes and the abuse he suffered.
And Fichtner's sultry coupling with Frost has suddenly made the low-keyed actress vibrant.
Langschwadt (Cecily Davidson of "All My Children"): Cecily is the bad girl in a standard teen triangle that includes Charlie Brent (played by Robert Duncan MacNeil) and good girl Julie Chandler (played by Lauren Holly.)
Most teen vixens are exactly what one would expect from inexperienced teenage actresses -- dreadful. But saucy Langschwadt has the rare spark, making her reminiscent of the young Erica Kane. (At the premiere of "AMC" in 1970, young Erica, played by 19-year-old Susan Lucci, was Pine Valley's resident teen vixen.)
Langschwadt knows how to camp it up and remain believable at the same time. But she's also helped by the fact that whiny Holly, by contrast, is overly grating as "good" girl Julie Chandler.
Susan, watch your back!