Denver Actors Fund in Action: Caleb Reed

Young actor was getting a COVID test when doctors discovered a cancerous tumor in his abdomen

Aid recipient Caleb Reed: Caleb has been acting on various area stages since 2016, including twice playing Will in “American Idiot” (for Ignite Theatre and Town Hall Arts Center) and twice playing the lead role of Robbie Hart in “The Wedding Singer” (for the Aurora Fox and Performance Now). He most recently appeared in the chorus of “9 to 5” for Inspire Creative at Parker Arts. He also has performed at Breckenridge Backstage Theatre and for a year on an international tour with Up With People. Caleb, who is from Lindsey, Ohio, graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Theatre Performance and moved to Colorado in 2016.

Caleb Reed and Shelby Varra in Town Hall Arts Center’s ‘American Idiot.’ Photo by Ray Bailey.

His medical story: Caleb, who is only 34, was diagnosed last year with what turned out to be a 15-centimeter cancerous tumor that has likely been growing in his abdomen for more than a decade. Doctors discovered it when he went in for COVID testing. On October 23, Caleb had a surgery to remove this tumor, which was potentially attached to one of his kidneys, his Vena Cava (which brings blood to the heart), and many other interior body parts. The complexity of the procedure compelled UC Health to assign a Transplant Surgeon to head the surgical team, because the lead doctor had to be prepared to rebuild or fix arteries (way above a standard tumor removal). The surgery, Caleb says, went incredibly well. The planned 12-hour procedure was completed in less than nine. His kidney did not need to be removed, and his Vena Cava was not clipped. Caleb spent eight long days in the hospital, then temporarily moved into a ground-floor, donated AirBnB because he was not allowed to ascend  stairs as he recovered for three months of bed rest. He has lost much work from his day job as as a teacher at Denver Language School, and had to undergo a second surgery in January, missing another several weeks of work. The pathology on the second surgery led to genetic testing that essentially revealed Caleb has a 20 percent chance of developing multiple tumors over his lifetime, but it is unknown how likely it is that any of those might be cancerous. Which means: “I am going to be tested a lot for the rest of my life,” he says.

How we have helped: The DAF Board of Directors approved an initial compensation of $6,000 to help pay down Caleb’s direct medical expenses. Oddly enough, an additional bill from Sky Ridge Medical Center arrived on March 9, 2021, for services delivered back in August 2020. “This would be outside of what I planned for my financials, and I would not be able to cover it,” Caleb said. The DAF has paid that new bill, which brings our direct medical compensation in this case to $7,600. Combined with a whopping $14,518.30 in community contributions, The Denver Actors Fund’s overall support for Caleb has now reached $22,118.30.

How you can help us to replenish: As of April 15, The Denver Actors Fund has sent out more than $67,000 in financial support to Colorado theatre artists in 2021 alone – and taken in “only” $20,690 in donations during that same period. So … if you would like to help us keep pace with the ever-present need, please consider sending a check to The Denver Actors Fund at P.O. Box 11182, Denver, CO 80211. Or use this donation link, with our humble thanks.

An update on direct donations: Caleb is not presently in need of additional community donations, although he has many more miles ahead on his cancer journey, and more bills surely will be following him every step of the way. If you would like to direct a specific donation to help give Caleb some more financial breathing room, simply mail checks in any amount MADE OUT TO CALEB REED (NOT to The Denver Actors Fund) to P.O. Box 11182, Denver, CO 80211. We cannot accept targeted donations for Caleb Reed online. The postal mail is the only option, and your checks will be forwarded to him. Any online donation received will be applied to the replenishment of the Denver Actors Fund’s general fund “in honor of” Caleb Reed. Be assured the DAF will continue to consider possible compensation of Caleb’s future medical expenses as they arise.

‘Damn, I feel loved by so many.’

A message from Caleb:

“I can’t say thank-you enough to The Denver Actors Fund and the local theatre community, my international friends, Up With People contacts, and Denver Language School families … on top of just my friends. I am so, SO, lucky. I’d like to think I’ve deserved this outpouring of support. If I didn’t in the past, I will make sure I earn it in my future. Damn, I feel loved by so many. I will recover. I will give back. And I look forward to when I can perform again to help benefit the DAF.”

Read testimonials from other Denver Actors Fund beneficiaries here

The Denver Actors Fund has now made $775,000 available to Colorado theatre artists.

Note: At The Denver Actors Fund, anonymity of aid recipients is presumed and fully protected, unless and until the recipient chooses to have their story told.



The Denver Actors Fund is a source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in medical need. In addition to $775,000 in financial relief, a team of more than 60 Denver Actors Fund volunteers have offered good neighborly assistance to more than 100 beneficiaries including meal prep and delivery, child care, transportation, errands, construction, pet-sitting and more. For more information, visit our web site at DenverActorsFund.Org.


To apply for Denver Actors Fund aid: Fill out this brief online form here


The Denver Actors Fund has announced a major new collaboration with the Maria Droste Counseling Center of Colorado to provide affordable, professional health care to any qualifying Colorado theatre artist who needs it. CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION

GET INSTANT, FREE MEDICAL ADVICE: The Denver Actors Fund has launch of a major new FREE medical service for qualified Colorado theatre artists: We are partnering with Hippo Health to provide access to emergency medical evaluations via video conferencing with a Board-certified physician. Click to read more about this wonderful, innovative new partnership that will further improve the lives of artists!



Go to our online giving site at: ColoradoGives.Org


Send checks made out to The Denver Actors Fund to:
P.O. Box 11182
Denver, CO 80211


Ever thought about taking a more active role in The Denver Actors Fund? Click here for more information


Sign up for King Soopers’ Community Rewards Program and raise money for The DAF just by shopping for your groceries – and it doesn’t cost you an extra penny. It’s like the Amazon Smile Program. To sign up, simply go here and designate The DAF as your preferred non-profit. Each quarter, King Soopers sends us a donation based on how much our supporters have spent. Thanks to all of you who are shopping for The DAF.


Note: All events are tentative based on COVID-19 developments:

FRIDAY, APRIL 16: Vintage Theatre has streamed mostly free cabarets for the past year, but this one is special: “What We Do For Love: A Return Home.” Says Artistic Director (and DAF beneficiary … and monthly DAF donor) Bernie Cardell: “We’ve got a fantastic group of humans performing, and 50 percent of all sales are going to The Denver Actors Fund.” Bernie is also going to personally match whatever that 50 percent comes to. “So make me pay,” he says. “… Please!” Join (longtime DAF donor) Nancy Begley, Arabella Beaubrun, (longtime DAF monthly donor) Brian Trampler and (DAF beneficiary) Jacob Villarreal, accompanied by Eric Weinstein, for this humorous and heartfelt evening of music. You’ll hear songs from “Kiss Me Kate,” “Chicago,” “The Prom” and many others. “Support that vision of re-opening, and support a great organization like the Denver Actors Fund as well!” says Bernie. All tickets are only $10. This live streaming show will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Friday April 16. Order here

Check out who performed in this year’s virtual ‘CAST 2020!’

AVAILABLE NOW: This year “Miscast,” the major annual fundraiser for The Denver Actors Fund, has pivoted to “CAST 2020,” a professionally produced on-demand video concert featuring Colorado theatre artists performing in roles they WERE cast to play before the coronavirus shut down their shows. “CAST 2020” includes nearly a dozen showstopping songs by an all-star lineup of Colorado theatre performers:

  • Rebecca Myers, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’
  • Lisa Kay Carter and Seth Dhonou, Arvada Center’s ‘Something Rotten’
  • Kalyn Heffernan of Wheelchair Sports Camp with Michelle Rocqet, Phamaly Theatre Company’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’
  • Scott Hurst, Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s ‘Curtains’
  • Mary Louise Lee, Vintage Theatre’s ‘Gypsy’
  • McKayla Marso, BDT Stage’s ‘The Sound of Music’
  • Cal Meakins, Forge Light Theatreworks’ ‘Bare: The Musical’
  • Keith Hershman and Jessie Oblazny, Magic Moments’ ‘Take the High Road’
  • Mercedes Perez, Lake Dillon Theatre’s ‘Man of La Mancha’
  • Jenna Moll Reyes, Aurora Fox’s ‘Freaky Friday’
  • Camryn Torres, Miners Alley Playhouse’s ‘Once on This Island’

For your donation of at least $20, you will be sent a link to the video within 24 hours. You can then watch the concert at your leisure. Reserve your link today

‘Miscast’ is the major annual fundraiser for The Denver Actors Fund. It produced each year by Robert Michael Sanders and Kenny Moten, wit 100 percent of all proceeds going to The DAF. CAST 2020′ was recorded primarily at Focus Event Studios in north Denver and edited by Ray Bailey TV. We are eternally grateful to all of them for making this important event possible, and to you for watching.


From left: Concert hosts Annaleigh Ashfor, Denise Gentilini, Beth Malone and Neyla Pekarek.

THROUGH NOVEMBER 23: Julia Tobey and Eugene Ebner present an uplifting, nearly all-Colorado video concert to launch her new Sublimelight Studios. The concert will be pre-recorded and dropped at 7 p.m. on October 23 on Sublimelight’s YouTube channel. The concert hosts are Grammy Award nominee Neyla Pekarek (formerly of The Lumineers), Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford (“You Can’t Take it With You”), three-time Emmy Award-winning composer Denise Gentilini, and Tony Award nominee Beth Malone (“Fun Home.”) Performers slated to perform or speak include Elizabeth Welch (“The Phantom of the Opera”), Gregory Treco (“Hamilton”), Jason Veasey (“The Lion King”), Josh Franklin (“The Prom”), Piper Lindsay Arpan (“Spamalot”), Shannan Steele, David Nehls, Robert Michael Sanders, Megan Van De Hey, Kenny Moten, Lauren Shealy, Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Jessica Hindsley, Lynzee and Chris Jones, Adriane and Marco Robinson, Julie Payne, Natalie Oliver-Atherton, Jennifer Condreay, Paul Page, Dixie Krystals, Shirley Delta Blow, Sophia Dotson, Evan Gibley, Hannah Katz, Abby Linderman, Eden Lane and Sue Leiser.  Ensembles performing include Black Iris Collective, Spinphony, The Beverly Belles and The Honey Taps. All in 90 minutes (!). The goal is to raise $75,000 to support Sublimelight, a new arts and wellness community set to open in Denver in 2021. Ten percent of proceeds will go to The Denver Actors Fund. Viewers can watch from home anytime through November 23. Order here



NOVEMBER 20: Do you remember The Country Dinner Playhouse? More than 4.6 million theatregoers attended 200 plays and musicals at The Barn, as it was affectionately known in southwest Denver, from 1970-2007. When things were really cooking, the Playhouse drew 150,000 people every year while serving up country-style buffet to its loyal patrons. It has been 13 years since the Country Dinner Playhouse abruptly closed its doors. Among those put out of work were the beloved Barnstormers, an octet of singers who provided the theater’s pre-show entertainment as well as table service for the audience. There were more than 100 individuals who had been Barnstormers over the years, many of whom have gone on to major carers on the stage and screen. Stephen C. Turner, currently featured in Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s scaled-down production of “Camelot” in Johnstown, has gathered a sizeable percentage of them for an upcoming online reunion concert with 100 percent of the proceeds going to The Denver Actors Fund. “This year, The Barn would have celebrated 50 years of business,” said Turner, a Barnstormer from 2004-7. “Now seems like a great time for a reunion concert. The Denver Actors Fund is a great organization that has helped many of our friends in the local theater community. We want to help them any way we can, without putting ourselves or our friends in any danger.” The concert will air from 7-8:30 p.m. on November 20. Tickets will go on sale soon for a minimum donation of $10 per viewer. Check back here for the link when it becomes available. Meantime, read more about the Country Dinner Playhouse here.



ONGOING:Waiting for Obama,” the audio version of a play that was an official selection at the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival, has been released as a (free) fundraiser for The Denver Actors Fund. A Colorado Springs family is convinced that Barack Obama is coming for their guns in the final weeks of his presidency – and they’re right.) The play features Laurence Curry, Drew Horwitz, Chris Kendall, Leslie O’Carroll, Jenna Moll Reyes, Jessica Robblee, Luke Sorge and Mare Trevathan. It was recorded by the staff of Parker Arts at the PACE Center as an in-kind donation to The Denver Actors Fund. Listen for free on all major podcasting platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Podbean. Just by listening, you will be raising revenue for The DAF! ‘Waiting for Obama’ was recorded by the staff of Parker Arts at the PACE Center and edited by Ray Bailey TV as in-kind donations to The Denver Actors Fund. The actors also donatedtheir services.



ONGOING: “Quarantine Week by Weak” is a new photographic coffee-table book by Susannah McLeod and her wife, Chloe McLeod, who chronicled their home life during the COVID19 shutdown with a light-hearteded photo series documenting their lives during quarantine. They produced more than 35 sets of humorous photos comparing the beginning of quarantine to later in the “stay-at-home” period. Susannah pulled out her camera and we started to play,” said Chloe McLeod. As popularity for the series grew on Instagram and after a feature in Westword, the couple started exploring options to publish the series as a book to benefit The Denver Actors Fund. To order, visit This project is generously sponsored by: The Albritton Family; Natalie Bowen and Jim Corbett; Dave Dyer; Julie Dyer; and Denise Gentilini and Lynette Prisner. Additional support provided by Angie Flachman and Sandy Birkey at The Publishing House and Sandra Lee Stuart.


Click here to see how you can buy DAF products such as T-shirts, key chains, puzzles and much more.

By John Moore

Award-winning arts journalist John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the United States by American Theatre Magazine during has 12 years at The Denver Post. Hen then created a groundbreaking new media outlet covering Colorado arts an culture as an in-house, multimedia journalist for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He also founded The Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that has raised more than $600,000 for theatre artists in medical need. He is now a journalist for hire as the founder of Moore Media Colorado. You can find samples of his work at MooreJohn.Com. Contact him at