Performer of the Week

Since her return to Port Charles, Laura Spencer has been the patron saint of home and hearth. Gone are the days of Laura embracing adventure; in their place are Laura setting curfews for Lucky, volunteering at Ward House and sorting laundry. But as Laura faces her greatest challenge to date, Lesley Lu's life-threatening illness, Genie Francis has been subtly exposing the cracks in Laura's stalwart surface.

Laura's joy over being cleared of Damian Smith's murder quickly faded when her baby daughter became ill. In honest, multi-layered performances, Francis alternates between fear, horror, frustration and quiet reserve as Laura suffers through the emotional freefall of a parent's worst nightmare. Laura must keep it together -- asking questions, filling out paperwork, comforting her daughter. Yet, Francis's Laura is hardly infallible -- her voice wavers slightly, her stare is a bit too intense, her thoughts are jumbled as she processes the medical jargon.

Throughout Laura's ordeal, she has maintained her dignity, thanks to Francis's centered portrayal. But she is no longer the untouchable daytime icon. Laura's world has been shattered, and Francis's rich, heartfelt performances make that world is all too accessible.

Thanks to Nancy for this article!