photo by Bob Kelly



  • 2014 Bronze Telly Award Winner for "MAKERS: The Women Who Made Southwest Florida," WGCU-TV special
  • 2010 Bronze Telly Award Winner for "The Boxcar:A Journey of Redemption," WGCU-TV special
  • 2008 Bronze Telly Award Winner for "Sanibel to Siberia," Arts Edition Prime Time
  • 2008 Bronze Telly Award Winner for "Out of the Ashes," Arts Edition Prime Time
  • 2007 Best Local Entertainer, Gulfshore Life
  • 2006 eNny Award, Best Performing Artist, Most Affectionate Daughter, N Magazine
  • Communicator Award of Distinction for "Ringling Museum," Arts Edition Prime Time
  • Florida Magazine Association:
    “Writer of the Year 2001;”
    1st place In-Depth Reporting;
    1st place Environment Column;
    2nd place Business & Finance Column;
    2nd place Best Feature.
  • National Assoc. of 4-H: National Winner of Communicator “A” Award.
  • New England Press Association: 2nd place Special Section Reporting.
  • Massachusetts Teachers Association: Special Award for Education Reporting.


NDN/Spinning into Butter

One-Woman Dynamo:
excerpt from èBella Magazine

Coastal Beat/Wit review:

NDN/Collected Stories:

NDN/Virgin Tears:

Writer-producer-actress Birtolo likes to play it solo


Life is an adventure embraced head-on

Inside the Mind of an Actress

Janina Birtolo: Wowing audiences with her one-woman shows

Words of Praise

“Vera, expertly played by Janina thoroughly believable..., from her accent to her gait" - Bill O'Neil, Collier Citizen(review of "4000 Miles") read more

“Janina Birtolo shines as Marjorie and makes us care about her, even when she’s whiny and self-absorbed…This is Birtolo’s chance to show what she’s got, and she makes the most of it, making us root for her character even while we laugh at her foibles and the absurdities of her life. Birtolo has acted in numerous other Naples Players productions, but she totally disappears into this role. The weight of the play rests upon her, and she does not disappoint.”- Nancy Stetson, Naples Daily News(review of "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife") read more

"Janina Birtolo pops up throughout the play as the McCullough's wacky maid Myra; watch Birtolo every time she hits the stage for accents, one-liners and silent gags - even if the house lights aren't up." -- Chris Silk, Naples Daily News(review of "Regrets Only) read more

"Janina Birtolo as Hattie, the cleaning woman at Jones's office, provides much-needed comic relief late in the one-act play. She's a sprite, a jester, a good-hearted woman who's quite willing to play dumb. Ms. Birtolo throws herself into the role with relish. Her scenes contain moments of lighthearted slapstick, with Ms. Birtolo "accidentally" smacking her boss in the face with her mop a number of times." -- Nancy Stetson, Florida Weekly(review of "Women of Lockerbie") read more

"This is ultimately Birtolo’s show to carry, and carry it she does — if not spectacularly, then at least with a proud defiance befitting the role. She whines, retches, grimaces and groans with convincing gusto and spits back an amazing amount of dialogue while only clad in a hospital gown. A scene in which she discusses a “Do Not Resuscitate” order with her nurse is spellbinding, as is a scene in which Vivian screams at a nurse that she doesn’t want an X-ray because she’s still finishing a lecture."Chris Silk, Naples Daily News(review of "Wit") read more

“Players veteran Janina Birtolo, as her long-suffering daughter, is a natural in her part. Even her posture works for her – lifting when she is in her professional garb, in her own life, and slumping in the duties of an exhausted, frustrated daughter.” – Harriet Howard Heithaus, Naples Daily News (review of "Waverly Gallery")

“Janina Birtolo turns in a breathtaking performance as the voluble Alexa, delivering a staggering volume of lines with unwavering verve and attitude. Her not-quite-identifiable accent is right on the mark for her character.” – Pamela Gilbert Worztel, The Island Sun (review of "As Bees in Honey Drown")

"Still, the apparently long-suffering Maureen Folan, played to Gaelic perfection by Janina Birtolo, pulls us along in the current Naples Players production… (Birtolo’s) called upon here to incorporate a tougher, less tolerant ego, and she handles it impeccably, building on her successively blunt tongue-lashing to the point that no one questions that she will step over her wailing mother to run after her boyfriend.” – Harriet Howard Heithouse, Naples Daily News (review of "The Beauty Queen of Leenane")

“In an unusual bit of casting, Baptista, father of the girls, is played by Janina Birtolo as Baptista, mother of the girls. Shakespeare would have liked this role switch, as Birtolo is ideal as the put-upon parent, juggling suitors and hoping to make the best arrangements for her girls.”– Maxine Ginsberg, Naples Daily News (review of "Taming of the Shrew")

“Birtolo skirts the edge of camp as the sinister mother, but her performance is appropriately modulated. Her readings and gestures seem natural and cat-like despite the surreal atmosphere. In the second act, she has an especially good turn with a 20-minute monologue describing the gory details of her marriage to the man in the closet.” – Drew Sterwald, Fort Myers News-Press (review of "Oh Dad, Poor Dad…")

"Janina Birtolo's challenge is to represent the woman when she's 52, still unreconciled with how her son turned out, but resigned to the fact that youthful dreams will not come true, and that some battles aren't worth fighting. The role is less volatile than that of the older woman, but Birtolo plays the more even-tempered character with skill. Her realization of what will be and what will not, and her acceptance of it will strike another chord of response in mature audiences who have shared that melancholy enlightenment."-Maxine Ginsberg, Naples Daily News (review of "Three Tall Women")