BY JOLYN JOHNSON
Ricardo Cota, Jr., a member of the VC theatre community, passed away the morning of August 30th after battling a long time with a rare form of lymphonic cancer that had left him paralyzed. He was only 23 years old. In the coming weeks, his family will be planning a celebration of his life. After twelve hospital admissions since last April, chemotherapy, blood transfusions, and spinal surgeries, Ricardo never gave up hope that he would beat cancer and get well enough to perform again. His last comment to us all was on Facebook at the beginning of August saying, “I’m getting better so don’t worry, love you all!”
Some of his VC credits include Evita, Miracle on 34th Street, Jekyll & Hyde (at High Street Arts Center), The Scarlet Pimpernel, Sorry, Wrong Chimney”(at Conejo Players Theatre), and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (at Moorpark College). Ricardo was accepted to AMDA in New York but had to quit due to his paralysis. While there, he also performed in many shows and was a founding member of the Open Hydrant Theater Company with Luis Cardenas (who also worked in VC in various shows at HSAC and CPT, including The Who’s “Tommy”).
The last time I saw him in person was at The Laramie Project (at Camarillo Skyway Playhouse), where he was a financial supporter of the show and the Matthew Shepard Foundation in 2012. His final message to me was a few months ago, stating that he was disappointed he was too ill to see our production of Next to Normal, which he had been looking forward to seeing for a long time. Again, it was simply part of his spirit that he would get well soon, he would beat cancer, he would sing and perform onstage once more, and that he would continue to support everyone he had ever worked with in Ventura County. It’s a rare quality, and it’s so sad that someone so young was taken from us far too soon. I’m sure that anyone who ever worked with him is sending thoughts to his family right now.
Jolyn Johnson works as a producer/director for the Camarillo Skyway Playhouse.