March 16, 2015

Carbonell Awards announce three special honors

The 39th annual Carbonell Awards ceremony and show will happen on Monday, March 30, in the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and most of the nominees will just have to bite their fingernails until that evening.

UnnamedBut the Carbonell organization, which administers South Florida's venerable theater awards program, on Monday announced the recipients of three special honors, including the George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts, an honor named for the legendary Broadway producer, playwright and director.


This year's Abbott Award goes to Scott Shiller, the outgoing executive vice president of Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  Shiller, 39, will become president and CEO of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in May.  He's being honored with the Carbonells' most prestigious award for his programming and fiscal successes at the Arsht; for embracing the work of myriad South Florida companies and artists, and showcasing that work at the Arsht; and for leading the tri-county Carbonell organization to greater stability.

Expressing his gratitude, Shiller observed in a statement, "South Florida is one of the great performing arts regions in the country because of the wisdom, hard work and artistic drive of those who have created a thriving theater scene in the 39 years since the Carbonell Awards were founded.  I've been honored to work side-by-side with these dedicated producers, directors, actors and designers who embrace the art of storytelling and community engagement each and every day."

Image003Iris Acker, a veteran actress, director, author and the host of the TV show Spotlight on the Arts, will receive the Howard Kleinberg Award at the Carbonell ceremony.  Named for the longtime editor of the Miami News, the Kleinberg Award goes to someone who has contributed to the health and development of the arts in South Florida.  Acker, a Carbonell judge and one of the founders of the regional Silver Palm Awards, has performed at theaters throughout South Florida.  She was the state's first Actors' Equity liaison, started a casting hotline, served as president of the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists, and has contributed to the theater community in countless other ways.

"I have enjoyed a wonderful life in the theater. When I'm not on stage, I have the privilege of being able to promote everything that is now on stage," Acker said.

The Ruth Foreman Award, named for the pioneering producer-director who helped shape local theater in South Florida, is being given to The Naked Stage for the company's annual 24-Hour Theatre Project.

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Antonio and Katherine Amadeo, who founded their company along with City Theatre producing artistic director and Barry University associate theater professor John Manzelli, first held their artistic fundraiser in 2007.  Each year, South Florida playwrights draw titles, the name of a director and the names of several actors from a hat.  After a long night of writing, rehearsals begin the next morning, and the brand-new short plays get their one and only performance that evening.  The event has become a much-anticipated annual celebration of community and talent for both artists and audiences from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

"That first year ended up being pure chaotic magic, and we realized we had something wonderfully special on our hands," said Katherine Amadeo.  "It is humbling, and we continue to be awed by the outpouring of generosity and love this community has shown to us, time and again."

Tickets for the Carbonell ceremony, which is open to the public, are $31.86.  The show goes on at 7:30 p.m. at the Broward Center, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale.  For information, call 954-462-0222 or visit the Broward Center web site.

(Photos, from top, show Scott Shiller, Iris Acker, Antonio and Katherine Amadeo.)

February 24, 2015

Outré Theatre Company announces its Broward Center season

Fort Lauderdale's Broward Center for the Performing Arts will be home to two of South Florida's professional theater companies next season, the Outré Theatre Company and Slow Burn Theatre. Slow Burn has already revealed its 2015-2016 season, which will be presented in the center's Amaturo Theater, and now it's Outré's turn.

Headshot4-300x200Artistic Director Skye Whitcomb and managing director Sabrina Lynn Gore have built a lineup around the theme "The Power of Woman," and the company's productions will be done in the Abdo New River Room, where earlier this season Outré staged Othello.

The troupe's new season begins with The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, the duo's brilliant musical about an array of shady characters in London's underworld, running Aug. 28-Sept. 13.  A production of the Greek tragedy Medea will run March 11-27, 2016.  The full season closes out June 10-26, 2016, with Rooms:  a rock romance, a punk rock musical by Paul Scott Goodman and Miriam Gordon about a young couple struggling with the pressures of fame.  (A concert version of Rooms is being presented at 7 p.m. this Friday-Saturday at Stache Drinking Den, 109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale.)

Sabrina-Lynn-Gore-070309-256-PortraitTwo additional pieces will get shorter runs next season.  Outré will mount a return of its Carbonell Award-nominated production of Stephen Dolginoff's Thrill Me, a two-character musical about Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb starring Conor Walton and Mike Westrich, Dec. 11-13.  And April 8-10, 2016, the company will do a concert version of the Polly Pen-Peggy Harmon musical Goblin Market.

Still coming up for Outré this season are a reading of Joel Gross' play Marie Antoinette: The Color of Flesh (featuring Katherine Amadeo, Seth Trucks and Gore) at 8 p.m. March 6-7 in the Broward Center's JM Family Studio, and the rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson May 1-17 in the Abdo New River Room.

The Broward Center is located at 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale.  For information, call the box office at 954-462-0222, visit the center's web site or visit Outré's site.

(Photos of Skye Whitcomb and Sabrina Lynn Gore)

February 23, 2015

Kravis Center books 'Matilda,' 'Bullets' and 'Bridges of Madison County'

Matilda The Musical 1As news of choices for the 2015-2016 theater season continues to roll out, we learn that the Kravis on Broadway series at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts will feature three shows making their way to South Florida for the first time.  And there's no duplication of titles recently announced for next season at Fort Lauderdale's Broward Center for the Performing Arts (though Motown the Musical, part of the new Kravis lineup, will get a two-week run at the Broward Center starting this Tuesday at 8 p.m.).

The new season at the Kravis will kick off Dec. 8-13 with the ever-popular Blue Man Group bringing its wordless spectacle to West Palm Beach.  Next is a tour of the backstage musical 42nd Street, which will play the Kravis Jan. 5-10. Motown the Musical, a music-packed hit parade woven around the life and times of Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr., will run Feb. 9-14.  Then come the three new-to-South Florida titles.

The Tony Award-winning Matilda the Musical, about an imaginative little girl who uses her intellect to thwart cruel and misguided adults, will play the Kravis March 1-6, 2016. Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway, in which a playwright makes a deal with a mobster to back his Broadway show, runs March 22-27, 2016.  Next season winds up April 26-May 1, 2016, with the romantic The Bridges of Madison County the Musical, with a score by Tony winner Jason Robert Brown and book by Pulitzer winner Marsha Norman.

Subscription prices range from $180 to $499, and they'll go on sale to current subscribers in mid-March, to the general public mid-summer.  The Kravis is located at 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach.  For information, call 561-832-7469 or visit the center's web site

(Photo of Matilda the Musical)

February 20, 2015

As spring nears, 'tis the season to announce seasons

Despite the chill in the air, theaters around South Florida are looking to create some heat at the box office by announcing their 2015-2016 seasons, enticing current subscribers to renew and wooing new ones.

We already know the details of what Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables will be producing next season.  We know what Broadway Across America is planning for its lineup at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale, and what Slow Burn Theatre will be doing for its first full season at the Broward Center.

So what will Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, the Wick Theatre in Boca Raton and the Stage Door Theatre in Margate be producing for 2015-2016?  Happy to share.

MarqueeSeasonDramaworks, which earlier this week announced that its concert-style summer musicals would be Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's A Little Night Music (July 9-19) and the Harvey Schmidt-Tom Jones-N. Richard Nash musical 110 in the Shade (Aug. 13-23), today revealed its new season. 

The lineup is a mixture of American classics and newer works, starting with William Inge's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1953 play Picnic (Oct. 9-Nov. 8). Next is Alan Bennett's Tony Award-winning The History Boys (Dec. 4-Jan. 3), followed by Eugene O'Neill's brilliant Pulitzer winner Long Day's Journey Into Night (Jan. 29-Feb. 28).  John Patrick Shanley's recent Broadway play Outside Mullingar (March 25-April 24, 2016) and Terry Teachout's Louis Armstrong play Satchmo at the Waldorf (May 13-June 12, 2016) close out the next season.  Current subscribers can renew beginning March 16, and new subscribers can sign up starting March 23. Single tickets go on sale Sept. 14. Dramaworks is at 201 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. For information, call 561-514-4042 or visit the company's web site.

Like Dramaworks, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre is a heavily subscribed company, so going for a season subscription isn't a bad idea at all.  A couple of plays and three big musicals will be featured on the Maltz mainstage, starting with Agatha Christie's classic whodunnit The Mousetrap (Oct. 25-Nov. 8).  Next is Billy Elliot the Musical (Dec. 1-20), then The Will Rogers Follies (Jan. 12-31).  The season ends with Peter Morgan's Frost/Nixon (Feb. 7-21) and Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate (March 8-27, 2016).  The Maltz is at 1001 E. Indiantown Rd. in Jupiter. Call 561-575-2223 or visit the theater's web site.

The Wick Theatre is presenting a summer season featuring productions of Peter Pan (June 11-28), a concert version of George M! (July 2-19) and Pump Boys & Dinettes (Aug. 6-23).  Its 2015-2016 season kicks off with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Oct. 1-Nov. 1), followed by Hello, Dolly! (Nov. 5-Dec. 6), a holiday spectacular (Dec. 10-Jan. 3), South Pacific (Jan. 7-Feb. 14), Curtains (Feb. 25-March 27, 2016) and I Love a Piano (April 14-May 22, 2016).  The Wick is at 7901 N. Federal Hwy. in Boca Raton. For information, call 561-995-2333 or visit the web site.

Stage Door Theatre has a dozen shows planned for the new season to fill its two theater spaces.  The Pulitzer-winning comedy Harvey starts things off (July 31-Sept. 6).  Then come The Fantasticks (Sept 4-Oct. 11), Dial 'M' for Murder (Oct. 30-Dec. 6), Promises, Promises (Sept. 25-Nov. 1), Gypsy (Nov. 20-Jan. 3), Pompadour (Dec. 6-Jan. 31), Carnival (Jan. 22-Feb. 28), What's New Pussycat? (Feb. 19-March 27), Sunset Boulevard (March 18-April 24, 2016), Same Time, Next Year (April 15-May 22, 2016), Putting It Together (May 13-June 19, 2016) and A Night in Motown (June 10-July 17, 2016).  Stage Door is at 8036 W. Sample Rd. in Margate.  Call 954-344-7765 or visit the theater's web site.

February 16, 2015

Actors' Playhouse to stage 'West Side Story' next season

Westside Story.1Heading into the final week of its wildly successful production of Ragtime, Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables is revealing five of the six shows it will produce during the 2015-2016 season.

That still-to-be finalized slot from March 16 to April 10, 2016, will be filled with another big musical.  But in celebrating its 20th year at the historic Miracle Theatre, the company and artistic director David Arisco will again tackle a Broadway classic that brought Actors' seven Carbonell Awards in 1998:  West Side Story. Running Jan. 27-Feb. 21, 2016, the great musical about a Polish-American Romeo and a Puerto Rican Juliet is as dynamic and resonant as it was when Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents created it in 1957. 

The Toxic Avenger.2Actors' will kick off its new season Oct. 14-Nov. 8 with a smaller Off-Broadway musical, The Toxic Avenger. Based on the 1984 movie, it's a comic pop-rock musical -- the music is by Bon Jovi's David Bryan, the book by I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change creator Joe DiPietro, and both wrote lyrics -- with an environmental theme.

Mark Brown's play The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge, in which the "reformed" tightwad is suing Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, will run Dec. 2-27. 

After West Side Story and the still-in-negotiations musical, Actors' will present The Tin Woman by Making God Laugh playwright Sean Grennan.  Running May 11-June 5, 2016, the play is about a heart transplant recipient who decides to meet with the family of the donor who saved her life.

And from July 13-Aug. 7, 2016, Jonathan Tolins' tour-de-force solo show, Buyer & Cellar, will be the company's summer show.  Set in the Malibu basement of superstar Barbra Streisand, the play imagines an actor (who also plays Streisand, hubby James Brolin, the home's manager, the actor's boyfriend and others) running a secret underground "mall" for the diva.

Subscriptions for the new season range from $203 for preview performances to $453 for opening night gala performances.  Actors' performs at the Miracle, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables.  For information, call 305-444-9293 or visit the company's web site.

(Photo of West Side Story tour by Joan Marcus; photo of The Toxic Avenger at Danforth Music Hall by Paula Wilson.)

February 13, 2015

Thinking Cap pushes back the opening of The Vanguard (slightly)

Stodard HeadshotFort Lauderdale's Thinking Cap Theatre has been working for months to get its new home, The Vanguard, ready for the Feb. 19 opening of Dave Hanson's comedy Waiting for Waiting for Godot.

But stuff happens in the world of theater, in this case an illness for cast member Scott Douglas Wilson (one of just three actors in the play) that brought rehearsals to a halt and forced founder/artistic director Nicole Stodard to consider her options.  Wanting to do right by the piece and longtime company member Wilson, Stodard decided to delay that show until August.  After a multimedia dance performance, The Forest Diaries by Swedish choreographer Jenny Larsson, on March 7, Thinking Cap at the Vanguard will officially open the new venue with Always...Patsy Cline March 12-April 4.

The space, which will be Thinking Cap's home and a place for all sorts of performances, was built in 1939 as a church.  During the long renovation period, the 30-foot-high Dade County Pine ceiling in what will be the main performance space was uncovered, and cool pop art touches and Sputnik chandeliers now grace the building.  Now called "The Vanguard -- A Sanctuary for the Arts," the theater is close to the always-bustling Tap 42 on S. Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale.  So once The Vanguard is up and running, it may help spark a compact new arts-and-dining district in that part of town.

You can check The Vanguard out early if you see The Forest Diaries at 3 or 7 p.m. March 7.  Tickets are $15, and the performance will feature Larsson, LIze-Lotte Pitlo and Rachel Carroll, along with an original score and film. You can purchase tickets via the Vanguard web site.  

Or plan to see Ted Swindley's Always...Patsy Cline starring Ann Marie Olson as the great country singer along with Sally Bondi as Cline's pal, Houston housewife Louise Seger.  The show will run March 13-29 at the Vanguard, 1501 S. Andrews Ave., with tickets priced at $35.  Performances will be 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday. For info, call 813-220-1546, visit the Vanguard site or buy tickets at Brown Paper Tickets.

(Nicole Stodard photo)

February 09, 2015

Women's Theatre Project shuts down

Direct22 LASHER TROP CLWSouth Florida has lost and gained a number of theater companies since the 2006 shutdown of Miami's historic Coconut Grove Playhouse.  Today brings another loss.

The Women's Theatre Project, incorporated in 2002 as a not-for-profit company devoted to presenting work by women playwrights, has now folded.  President and artistic director Genie Croft made a statement reflecting on the company's accomplishments and announcing its closure.

Croft wrote, in part: "The Women's Theatre Project was fueled by the desires of professional women in theatre, who were drawn to the concept of creating a cultural profile of a diverse female voice on stage. Our choices broke with stereotypical portrayals 0408212212

of women propelled by the media, and we created theatrical opportunities for women of all shapes, ages and races. Our 33 main stage productions, numerous staged readings, and the creation of Girl Play allowed our audiences to encounter the full spectrum of our artistic vision...Our audiences have followed us to our five different homes in three different counties, and now we are concluding our theatrical run. Since our inception, we have solicited and received hundreds of scripts from playwrights locally, nationally and worldwide, allowing us to produce southeastern and world premieres of new and impactful plays, utilizing the skills of South Florida's finest talents." 

During the majority its run, the company focused on plays with all-female casts, giving work to some of the region's best performers, including Carbonell Award winners Lela Elam, Angie Radosh and Karen Stephens.  Under Croft and fellow founder Meredith Lasher, Women's Theatre Project served general audiences, women eager to see their lives reflected onstage and, via its annual Girl Play festival, the lesbian community.

Funding, always an issue for smaller companies, and the troupe's many moves (its last, in 2012, was to a shared space at the Willow Theatre in Boca Raton's Sugar Sand Park) were factors in the shutdown. 

Croft said by phone late Monday, "Once we moved to the Willow, we could do only two shows a year, so we went from being a company with a mission to a company putting on shows.  We feel we accomplished our mission.  It was time to move on. We have no debt, we never burned anybody, and we left a legacy.  We opened doors for all these playwrights."

This loss, like others including Mosaic Theatre and The Promethean Theatre, is something to be mourned.

(Top photo shows Genie Croft and Meredith Lasher; bottom is from 2004's 'Necessary Targets')

January 20, 2015

Slow Burn ready to sizzle in 2015-2016 at the Broward Center

Bonnie & Clyde press sunset (1)Patrick Fitzwater and Matthew Korinko, the founders and co-artistic directors of Boca Raton's Slow Burn Theatre, would tell you they've grown their company cautiously since launching it in 2010 with a production of Bat Boy: The Musical. But fans of the company -- and there are many -- think the longtime partners have gone from zero to 60 in what seems like the blink of an eye.  And with their just-announced next season in the Amaturo Theater at Fort Lauderdale's Broward Center for the Performing Arts, they're going into overdrive.

Since Bat Boy, Fitzwater (who directs and choreographs the shows) and Korinko (who stars in many and runs the business side of the company) have built a strong reputation for pulling off fine productions of big, challenging musicals.  Fitzwater is particularly deft at unearthing the strengths in musicals that had short Broadway runs, effectively giving them new life in South Florida. At last spring's Carbonell Awards, Fitzwater was named best director of a musical for his staging of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal.

As the company has grown, Fitzwater and Korinko have taken their shows on the road.  This season, Bonnie & Clyde will play the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center Feb. 12-15 after its run at the West Boca Performing Arts Theater Thursday-Feb. 8, and Slow Burn's Rent will go to Aventura April 30-May3 after it runs in Boca April 9-26.

Already, the company has started establishing itself in the Broward Center's Abdo New River Room, first with The Marvelous Wonderettes in October-November, and next with The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Feb. 26-April 19.

Next season, Slow Burn will be all about Fort Lauderdale.  The company and the Broward Center will be producing partners, presenting musicals in the Amaturo. 

Andrew Lippa's Broadway musical Big Fish launches the season Oct. 22-Nov. 8.  Based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and movie by Tim Burton, the show centers on a traveling salesman with a penchant for tall tales and his son, an expectant father.

Violet, the Jeanine Tesori musical earlier produced by Actors' Playhouse, will run Jan. 21-Feb. 7, 2016. It tells the story of a disfigured young woman who seeks out an evangelist in hopes of a miracle, only to experiences life-changing encounters along the way.

The Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening will run March 17-April 3, 2016. Merging Frank Wedekind's 1891 play with a rock score by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, the show about repressed German teens discovering their sexuality is hot, tragic and captivating.

The 2016 summer show will be the South Florida premiere of the Off-Broadway hit Heathers: The Musical. Running June 9-26, 2016.  Based on the 1989 movie, the darkly comic musical by Kevin Murphy, Laurence O'Keefe and Andy Fickman is about a teen misfit who hangs with the popular girls in high school and falls in love with a sexy, dangerous new kid.

Each show will have performances Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Amaturo, which will be renovated before the start of next season. Theatergoers can buy a four-show subscription for $150 or a three-show flexible subscription for $115. Current Slow Burn subscribers and Broward Center Entourage members can buy subscriptions starting Friday.  New subscriptions will be available on Jan. 31, and tickets to individual shows, priced at $45, go on sale Feb. 13.

The Broward Center is at 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale.  Call the box office at 954-462-0222 or visit the center's web site or Slow Burn's site for information.


(Photo of Bruno Faria as Clyde and Jessica Brooke Sanford as Bonnie by Patrick Fitzwater)

November 25, 2014

Miami's Andy Señor Jr. is directing 'Rent' in Havana

Senor_Andy_549_retMiamian Andy Señor Jr., a Florida International University grad who made his Broadway debut playing Angel in Jonathan Larson's Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent, is in Cuba at the moment to stage a history-making production of a piece he knows very, very well.  In addition to playing the sweet, tragic Angel on Broadway, Señor toured in the show and in 2011 served as assistant director to Michael Greif, the musical's original director, when Rent got an Off-Broadway revival.  Señor, artistic director of the new District Stage Company in Miami, also staged Rent in Tokyo.

Set to begin a three-month run at Havana's Bertolt Brecht Theatre on Christmas Eve, the La Bohème-inspired musical about impoverished young artists on New York's Lower East Side will be the first fully produced Broadway musical done in Cuba since the revolution.  Another South Florida talent, Carbonell Award-winning musical director Emmanuel "Manny" Schvartzman, is serving as the production's musical director.  Both Señor and Schvartzman are involved with the Broadway-bound production of On Your Feet, the biographical musical about South Florida music superstars Gloria and Emilio Estefan.

A production of Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment in partnership with the Cuban National Council of Performing Arts, Rent will be performed in Spanish by a cast of 15 Cuban actors. 

November 05, 2014

Service -- and a party -- set for Dana Castellano


Eventually, even the fiercest of warriors loses the battle with mortality.  For Dana Castellano, who fought valiantly and inspired so many after being diagnosed with Stage IV cervical cancer in January, the end of the struggle came on Saturday when she passed away at Hospice by the Sea in Boca Raton.  At 45, she became someone to be mourned, a treasured memory, a guardian angel, all much too soon.  But oh, the lives she touched during her time on earth.

Castellano's extended family -- those she was related to by blood and those who became family when she took them into her heart -- along with her many friends, loved ones and pals from South Florida's theater community will remember her and celebrate her life on Saturday, Nov. 15.  First comes a service at 11:30 a.m. at Spanish River Church, 2400 Yamato Rd., Boca Raton.  After that, a party (of course), a celebration luncheon at the Boca Barwood Recreation Center, 8900 SW 20th St. in Boca Raton.  Because celebrating life and love and human connection was Castellano's style.

Born in New Hyde Park, N.Y., Castellano moved to Florida at the age of 9.  She attended Spanish River Community High School, earned a GED, and among her many jobs worked as a tattoo artist and, more recently, decorated competition wear for female bodybuilders with intricate crystal designs.  Her work as a Women's Theatre Project board member and theater volunteer began during her 14-year relationship with actress Lela Elam,  and the friendships she made in that world stuck. When Castellano formed the support group Team Chaos in the early days after her cancer diagnosis, dozens of South Florida actors, playwrights, directors and theater artists joined the team.

In July, The Dana Plays, a benefit featuring original short works by South Florida playwrights, paid tribute to Castellano's courage and resolve.  She was there, slender but defiant, her chemo-bald head covered by a bandana, pink boxing gloves on her hands -- a symbol of her ongoing fight.  On Oct. 27, the Naked Stage's annual fundraiser, the 24-Hour Theatre Project, was dedicated to Castellano and driven by love for her.  She was not there.  She was in hospice, her fight nearly at an end.

Katherine Amadeo, co-founder of The Naked Stage, ran both benefits. She, her actor-husband Antonio and their two kids were good friends of Castellano, visiting her regularly in hospice.  Amadeo still can't quite believe her friend is gone.

"She wanted it so much and was so strong.  You think someone like her, she has to beat it," Amadeo says.  "It's amazing to see how many people she touched.  She radiated this energy.  You were instantly drawn to her.  As a lesbian, she had to overcome so much regarding tolerance.  But she took everybody in and treated them like family...You knew you were never going to get any judgment.  She was an angel on earth."

Atlanta-based actress Lisa Manuli met Castellano several years ago at a Naked Stage performance, and she and her actor-husband Christopher Kent became fast friends with her.  When Manuli's mother-in-law passed away in June, Castellano called to express her love and sympathy, adding, "I want you to know that I'm here for you guys.  If you need anything, just call.  If you need to get away, you just come and stay with me, and you can hold my head while I puke."

Manuli says, "She meant it. Truly.  Even t hough she was fighting like a warrior, she absolutely meant it when she said to come and stay with her.  That speaks volumes about the truly selfless person Dana was.  She loved so unconditionally.  And when she trusted you, she did so with her entire soul."

Another Lisa, Lisa Ellenbogen-Sfarzo, is one of the administrators of Castellano's Team Chaos Facebook page.  Her late husband Don was a high school friend of Castellano's, and she too became part of Castellano's family-by-choice.

"In our last phone call together, she referred to me as her 'press secretary,'" Ellenbogen-Sfarzo said, laughing.  "And in one of her last text messages, she wrote, 'Thank you for always being there for me.'  Most would have taken a Stage IV diagnosis as a death sentence.  But Dana decided if it was going to take her, she was going to go out swinging."

Castellano is survived by her mother, Annmarie Porter; father Matthew Castellano Sr., brother Matthew, four nieces, a nephew and so many others she considered family.  Ellenbogen-Sfarzo explains her friend's nature, the qualities that drew so many to her and let them see beyond an exterior of spiky hair, piercings and multiple tattoos to savor Castellano's soul.

"She was intolerant of intolerance.  She accepted everybody:  live and let live.  Because of the whole judging a book by its cover thing, people would make assumptions about how she must be inwardly.  She was a really deep thinker, yet playful at the same time."

 Castellano, a woman who could wear her heart on her sleeve, also wore her sentiments on her body via her tattoos.  The two on the outsides of her hands were particularly telling:  on the right, it read "hopeless," and on the left, "romantic." 

Those wishing to remember her can come to the service and party, or make donations in her name to the American Cancer Society or the Florida Humane Society, 3870 N. Powerline Rd., Pompano Beach.