Goodbye GOAT: Local Theater Announces Closing

If you've picked up the latest issue of Orlando Weekly, you may have noticed the item in Culture 2 Go about the difficulties faced by Greater Orlando Actors Theatre. At the time the column was written, GOAT founders Paul and Leesa Castaneda were seeking donations to keep the doors open at their Crealde location, in the face of expensive medical treatments for their son.

Sadly, just hours after our issue went to print on Monday night, Paul took to Facebook to announce the immediate closure of the theater, and the cancellation of their planned production of The Motherf**ker With the Hat, which was to open on April 18th.

I've watched GOAT grow over the last few years, following them from the Cameo on Colonial to their ill-fated Cherry Street stage to the Shakes, and I was hopeful they'd finally found a long-term home at Crealde office park. I haven't loved every show GOAT mounted, but I admire their willingness to explore edgier scripts, and the passion the Castanedas and crew poured in.

GOAT will be moving out of their location and selling off props and set pieces this Saturday. Best wishes to the Castendas and all the member of the GOAT family. I look forward to seeing GOAT continue in its next incarnation when they get back on their feet.

Below is the complete text of Paul's public statement from GOAT's Facebook page:

From the note "Doing What Is Right" by Artistic Director Paul Castaneda:

So, by now, most of you know both that my 9 year old stepson had been diagnosed with a disease requiring lifetime treatments to stay healthy and that, as a result, my theater was in danger of closing. If not, here is the previous note that will bring you up to speed:

Well, there have been some updates:

The community stepped up and contributed funds, energy, prayers and support

The community, family and friends have been so supportive of our family.

And...there is more news and some decisions...

My 7 year old son, Leo, has now been diagnosed with the same disease and treatment plan as Logan. And Leesa is being tested for the same, as it is genetic. Needless to say this is quite a body blow for the family. We are looking at two and perhaps three members undergoing 3 hour treatments 1 to 2 times a month for the rest of their $3-10,000 each per month before insurance.

This changes everything and has forced some decisions to be made. First of all, MF with the Hat, our next production, has been cancelled. Second, we are closing the Crealde location. I have to focus my energy and planning on my family and cannot be worried about a show a month and overhead and everything else (although if any deep pockets want to contribute $60k, we'll keep it open for a year as a community space, lol).

I have personally committed to two projects that I will see to fruition: directing Yow Dance's show for the Fringe and a second project that is short term and will be announced by the folks involved shortly. After that, I am taking a respite to take care of my family.

After things stabilize, GOAT will continue, as we always have, at location(s) to be determined. We will do shows, fundraisers, and all kinds of fun stuff...when the time is right.

I will also take on whatever directing projects come my way because I love the arts and because it's another source of income for my family, who now will be hit with massive outlays.

The money we raised through the gofundme site will be used to close shop, pay outstanding bills and store some of our materials for future use. Without that help, we would now face some daunting outlays of money we simply do not have. Please remember the donations are tax deductible Also, if anyone has issue with that use of the money, let us know and we will donate to your charity of choice, minus gofundme fees.

As for what you can do for us as a family: pray, send energy, send love and continue to be the terrific friends you have always been.

From the bottom of our hearts, Leesa and I cannot thank you all enough for the love and support you've shown us recently and throughout the years. We face a long and daunting road, but we feel so enveloped in the love of our friends that we know we will emerge triumphant as a family.

With love and gratitude,



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