If the hills are alive with the Sound of Music, General Hospital most certainly comes alive with the sound of Liesl.
Although Dr. Liesl Obrecht isn’t a Von Trappe (though we’ve been treated to her singing talent on occasion at the Nurse’s Ball), she has set traps for those who have gotten in her way or who she deemed an enemy. And when Liesl Obrecht is on a road of revenge, you better not be in her path. An angry Liesl is bad for Port Charles but great for General Hospital fans as it guarantees an appearance by her talented portrayer Kathleen Gati.
Dr. Liesl Obrecht made her General Hospital debut in the Summer of 2012. Originally the character was conceived as a short term role as head of the Swiss clinic where DVX agent Cesar Faison (Andre Hove) held the presumed dead Dr. Robin Scorpio Drake (Kimberly McCullough) captive. Dr. Obrecht was to deliver a few lines of dialogue, Robin would inevitably be rescued and those involved in taking her would be shipped off to that television prison oblivion never to be seen or heard from again. Thankfully, such wasn’t the case with Dr. Obrecht. Gati impressed former General Hospital star Anthony Geary (ex-Luke Spencer) and Executive Producer Frank Valentini with her performances that the General Hospital writers found a way to keep the character around even after the Swiss hospital caper ended. How? By giving Dr. Obrecht a family. It was soon revealed that she was the mother of Dr. Britt Westbourne (Kelly Thiebaud). This family connection provided a backstory for the character and allowed for the further expansion of the role with the revelation that she was the aunt of Nina Reeves (Michelle Stafford) and the mother of Detective Nathan West (Ryan Paevey).
Viewers have marveled at Kathleen Gati’s performances. As a character who has schemed, associated with the villainous Faison and caused Port Charles heroine Anna Devane (Finola Hughes) a world of grief, why is the character of Dr. Liesl Obrecht so beloved by fans? Liesl is an intriguing character because Kathleen Gati shows Liesl’s motivation for what she does and it’s not some cardboard, mustache twirling reason like world domination such as building a weather controlling machine (sorry Cassadines), but love. Everything Liesl Obrecht has done in her life has been because of love. Her greatest love is for her children. Although Liesl often criticized daughter ‘Britta,’ she wanted her to be happy. That was why Liesl plotted for Britt to end up with Dr. Patrick Drake (Jason Thompson) even when she knew his wife Robin was alive. Liesl felt that her daughter deserved the smart, handsome and successful Dr. Drake more than nemesis Anna’s daughter Robin. And Liesl’s love for her son Nathan caused her to sacrifice raising her child, opting to give her baby to her sister Madeline (Donna Mills) to keep him safely out of his father Cesar Faison’s dangerous clutches. Speaking of Faison, it is unbelievable that an intelligent woman like Liesl Obrecht would fall for a psychopath like Cesar Faison, a man who obviously didn’t return her feelings and didn’t show her respect. I posed this question to Kathleen during a #AskGH Twitter session on January 23. Here was her response:
Gati felt that Cesar Faison’s genius and and Liesl’s youth had made her fall in love with him. I always thought that Faison was an idiot wasting his life on his obsession with Anna when he had Liesl’s love and loyalty for the asking. But despite Liesl’s feelings for Faison she knew he wasn’t a good man and would have made an even worse father, which is why she never told him about Nathan. Sadly despite everything Liesl did to protect Nathan from his father, Faison eventually learned the truth. And as predicted, this knowledge proved deadly for Nathan as he was killed by Faison.
Now Liesl vowed to protect her grandson James Malcolm West while seeking justice for his father. To this end, Liesl has kidnapped Peter who the intent purpose to make him pay for his role in Nathan’s death. Kathleen Gati’s June 4 scenes with Michelle Stafford (Nina) and Wes Ramsey (Peter) were priceless. I’ve said this many times on social media and I’ll say it again, General Hospital writers give Liesl Obrecht the best lines and Kathleen Gati delivers them with flawless wit making it hard not to love Liesl. Gati is one of those actors that breathes new life into dialogue; she doesn’t just say the line, she sells it with her facial gestures and voice inflections. She is Liesl. When I’m watching Kathleen Gati’s scenes, I often forget that I’m viewing a television show as she makes it real. That’s a rare talent and it leaves me awestruck.
It’s a pity that with a well written character like Dr. Liesl Obrecht that the powers that be behind General Hospital never found a way to keep Obrecht permanently on the canvas by offering Kathleen Gati a contract with the show. She has chemistry with every actor she has played opposite with and delivers perfect performances. And let us think about something for a minute: How many current General Hospital families/character stories can Liesl effortlessly interact? As a doctor, she can have scenes with the entire General Hospital hospital cast of characters like Finn (Michael Easton), Kiki (Hayley Erin), Monica (Leslie Charlsen), Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst), Griffin (Matthew Cohen) etc. As Nina’s aunt and Maxie’s mother-in-law, she has a place in their lives and by extension Valentin (James Stuart), Mac (John J. York), Felicia (Kristina Wagner) and everyone else connected with them. And of course, her rivalry with Anna puts her in the thick of Devane’s spy games. The possibilities are endless. It is my hope to one day see Dr. Liesl Obrecht as a permanent Port Charles resident.
Photo Courtesy of Shandon and IMDB
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