A Benefit Concert for Camila de la Llata

When Camila de la Llata, as Princess Winnifred the Woebegone, appeared on the stage of the Forest Theatre, in the 2011 production of “Once Upon A Mattress,” she dazzled the audience with her charm, humor, her beautiful singing voice and her willingness, channeling a young Carol Burnett, to be a goof.  Through whatever mysterious combination of pluck, genes, desire, determination and fortune, some people just have “it”—so much abundant talent and craft wedded to a sense of joy that people sit up at the edge of their seats and pay attention.  “This young woman is going to go far, in whatever path she chooses,” I thought to myself then.  “She’s the real thing.”

Every performer’s life has its hurdles, but de la Llata, who is 22, is now facing a very serious illness: last summer, she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  Because of her specific genetic profile (she is bi-racial, with a Caucasian mother and a Latino father), she requires a bone marrow transplant from a donor with similar genetic markers in order to bring the disease into remission.  Now, when she should be enjoying her education and planning her future—de la Llata is a theater education and directing major at CSU Fullerton, an exhibition Latin and ballroom dancer, and a choreographer—she is fighting for a chance to survive.

An upcoming concert at the Golden Bough Theatre, in Carmel, held on two nights, gives the local community a chance to help.  The concert will feature the outsized creative talents of Grammy-nominated cellist Rushad Eggleston and his Mystery Band of Jick, three of the young men from Overtone, the South African a capella band mentored by Dina Eastwood, the exciting Mozzo Kush, a homegrown rock band from Pacific Grove (Tuesday 11/27 only), the popular A Band of Ninjas, Who’s Clayton, a group from Southern California whose members met in a tap dance class, and PacRep’s own Buddy Holly-inspired Twist and Shout Crew.  The evening will also feature several jazz and solo artists.

This concert is a powerful example of the arts community coming together to look after its own.  Music, dance, and theater can be a source of entertainment and diversion, but at its heart, art is about life.  Camila de la Llata has already touched many people in her young career.  I remember my acting teacher talking about the importance of “showing up” for a performance—being completely available, and open, and committed, and real.  Although I don’t know her personally, my sense is that de la Llata is the kind of person who shows up for everything she does.  Now she is in great need—and it’s time for us to show up for her.

Camila’s Cure Benefit Concert, Monday November 26 and Tuesday November 27, 7:00 p.m., at the Golden Bough Playhouse, Monte Verde Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues, Carmel.  Admission $25, students $15.  Box office phone (831) 646-4213.  Donations and tickets may also be purchased via www.ticketguys.com.  A silent auction begins at 6:30, with wine and dessert available.

For more information about helping Camila, visit her page at the Be the Match Registry.