PASSINGS: Michelle Nicastro, Rudy Regalado



Singer-actress appeared in L.A.’s ‘Les Miserables’

Michelle Nicastro, 50, an actress and singer who was in the original Los Angeles production of “Les Miserables,” died Thursday at her home in Toluca Lake after a long battle with cancer, said a spokesman for her husband, TV producer Steve Stark.


Nicastro originated the role of Eponine in “Les Miserables,” which opened in Los Angeles at the Shubert Theatre in 1988. Her other stage credits included “A Little Night Music” and “Merlin.”

She also recorded several albums including “Toonful” in 1993 and “On My Own” in 1997.

Nicastro’s film roles included “When Harry Met Sally” in 1989 and “Body Rock” in 1984. And she was a voice actress in the animated feature “The Swan Princess” in 1994 and its two sequels. She also made appearances on such television series as “Airwolf” in 1984, “Coach” in 1996 and the daytime soap opera “ Santa Barbara.”

Nicastro was born in Washington, D.C., on March 31, 1960, and graduated with a bachelor of fine arts from Northwestern University in 1982.


Percussionist of Latin bands El Chicano and Chevere

Rudy Regalado, 67, a salsa and Latin jazz percussionist and bandleader who was a member of the Latino rock band El Chicano, died Thursday at his home in Las Vegas from complications of pneumonia, said his daughter, Norka.

Regalado joined El Chicano in the early 1970s, singing and playing the timbales, a cylindrical drum that originated in Cuba. El Chicano, an East L.A. band that mixed rock, R&B and jazz, had Top 40 hits during the 1970s with “Viva Tirado” and “Tell Her She’s Lovely.”

In 1983, Regalado formed his own band that eventually became known as Chevere.

Chevere has played at the Playboy Jazz Festival and Los Angeles’ Fiesta Broadway, among other engagements. Regalado also toured as part of Aretha Franklin’s band. In 2009, he joined a reunited version of El Chicano and last played with the group in August at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, his daughter said.

Trumpeter Harry Kim, who has known Regalado since the 1970s, said he was “unbending in his love for jazz. He was without an agenda, totally flexible. … He loved the old style of mambo bands, his concept was kind of like a big band in Latin.”

Hector Jose Regalado was born Jan. 29, 1943, in Caracas, Venezuela. He moved to Puerto Rico in the early 1960s and started playing in hotels and clubs in San Juan while studying percussion in college. He came to California in 1970, his daughter said.

— Times staff reports