If you’re a fan of the stage shows at Busch Gardens you’ve almost certainly seen 26-year-old dancer Marlana Lacivita in performances of Katonga, Dance to the Music, Cirque Dreams, Jungle Fantasy and the current production of Born to Rock.
Her most crucial performance however has been taking place on and off-stage, as she deals with the life-threatening cancer, Hodgkins Lymphoma. Friends and colleagues who witness how Lacivita excels in her career while managing the effects of disease and treatment speak of the inspiration they get from knowing her.
“She’s a great girl who loves to dance and she didn’t let her diagnosis stop her from doing what she loves so we want to do something to honor her,” said Shari Rae Torres, who also performs as a dancer at Busch Gardens.
Torres and others are organizing a concert and silent auction to benefit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28 at Peabody’s, 15333 Amberly Dr. in New Tampa. There is a $5.00 admission, which is part of the donation to the society.
The benefit features local band Deacon’s Blues. Playing for a cause is a big part the group’s performance mission and when keyboardist Bernie Desrosiers found out about Marlana’s situation from his daughter Nicole, who is a vocalist at Busch Gardens, he knew his band had an important gig ahead of them.
“When you find out about something like this you can’t help but do something,” he said.
Deacons Blues has played benefit concerts to support organizations such as Moffitt Cancer Center, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and many others. With that kind of community involvement as its musical legacy, Desrosiers had no problem recruiting his band mates.
“As soon as I mentioned it to the band they jumped right in to support it,” he said.
Desrosiers says he’s looking for vendors, such as restaurants and shops which might donate services, products or gift baskets.
Lacivita is winding up her chemotherapy and expresses confidence in the benefits of the treatment. But her approach to dealing with cancer hasn’t just been about white coats and patient gowns. Putting on show costumes has helped.
“The moment I was diagnosed I knew I wanted to still dance. Dance is not only my passion and soul but my career. I had heard that those who tried to keep their everyday life as similar as possible had a more successful reaction to treatment,” she said.
All the proceeds will go to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. There will also be a separate donation box for attendees who want to assist Lacivita directly.