Denver Actors Fund in Action: Mark Shonsey

Mark, Shauna and Lillian Joy Shonsey.


Financial-aid recipient: Funnyman Mark Shonsey has been an an actor in the Denver theatre and improv-comedy communities since 2003. The graduate of John F. Kennedy High School and the University of Colorado Denver most recently played Nicky in the Town Hall Arts Center’s production of Avenue Q in January. It’s a role he first played  in Vintage Theatre’s four-star regional premiere in 2011. In 2013, he volunteered his services for Magic Moments, an annual musical revue that features able-bodied and special-needs performers performing side by side. Two of his biggest successes came in 2014, when he played Igor in Vintage Theatre’s Young Frankenstein and Moonface Martin in Town Hall’s Anything Goes. He has also performed for Equinox Theatre Company (A Night at Fawlty Towers), among others.

Mark Shonsey as Dauntless with LuAnn Buckstein as Aggravain in Town Hall Arts Center’s 2016 ‘Once Upon a Mattress.’ Photo by Gary Duff.

Their medical story: Mark and Shauna Shonsey welcomed their first child, Lillian Joy, on July 5, delivered prematurely by emergency C-Section. Lilly was rushed to the NICU, where doctors  discovered she had inhaled Meconium into her lungs, and she was intubated to help her breathing. Lillian was able to come home after about a week in the NICU, where she remained on oxygen for three months. She has since needed regular visits to lung doctors, urologists, and had two trips to the emergency room. She finally was able to come off oxygen on Sept. 5. But her  parents have seen the bills pile up throughout their ordeal. While Mark has continued working, Shauna lost her job five months into her pregnancy due to her own medical issues. A two-income family became one. By the time Lillian was born, the family savings were already depleted. Shauna was unable to find work for almost three months after the delivery. Now she is working, but only part-time, and for half her previous salary. All told, the Shonseys have accumulated more than $4,500 in post-insurance medical bills.

How we are helping: The Denver Actors Fund board has approved a grant of $3,000 to help provide the Shonsey family some time and breathing room while they get back on their financial feet. But that still leaves them with about $1,500 in the hole.

Update: On Nov. 23, the Board of Directors approved an additional grant of $1,000. Combined with $95 in targeted donations, the Denver Actors Fund has now made $4,095 available to the Shonsey family to date.

How you can help us help the Shonseys more: If you would like to direct a specific, additional donation to the Shonsey family, simply mail checks made out to The Denver Actors Fund (with Mark Shonsey’s name in the topic field) to P.O. Box 11182, Denver, CO, 80212. Or use this donation link. If you use the online option, be sure to designate that your donation is targeted for Mark Shonsey. Otherwise, your donation will be applied to the replenishment of the Denver Actors Fund’s general fun

A message from Mark Shonsey: The Shonsey Family would like to give the biggest THANK YOU to the Denver Actors Fund.  Lillian Joy is such a blessing in our lives.  Things unfortunately didn’t go as planned throughout the entire pregnancy, and that put us into financial trouble.  The Denver Actors Fund has been there to save us, and release a lot of the burden off our shoulders. As a longtime member of the Denver theatre community, I have seen actors struggle with life’s expenses for so many years.  I was lucky enough to participate, and donate to, the Denver Actors Fund’s first fundraiser back in 2013 at the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse. This group has graced so many people with funds, peace of mind and love ever since. I never thought I would ever need their help. But they worked so fast, and they made it so stress-free to help us. If you know me, you know I am the constant funnyman, always trying to make people laugh. I have lived my life off of a mantra that the great Red Skelton would say after every performance: “If by chance some day you’re not feeling well and you should remember some silly little thing I’ve said or done, and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose as your clown has been fulfilled.”  The Denver Actors Fund has truly brought a smile to the faces of Shauna, Lillian, and me. I will never forget what they have done for us.  I will do everything I can to support, raise funds and donate to this wonderful organization. From the bottom of our hearts, we can’t thank you enough!

Read more Denver Actors Fund testimonials by clicking here

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

Mark Shonsey lent his talents to Magic Moments’ annual musical review ‘Spirit and Soul’ in 2013,’ raising money for companies that provide services for those with special needs. Photo by John Moore.


To DONATE the Denver Actors Fund, please CLICK HERE (with our humble thanks)


Video above: The Denver Actors Fund receives the Colorado Theatre Guild’s 2016 Community Impact Award.

The Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in medical need. To date, the Fund has allocated more than $129,000 to artists facing medical need. In addition to financial relief, a team of more than 60 Denver Actors Fund volunteers offers good neighborly assistance 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



Send checks made out to the Denver Actors Fund to:
P.O. Box 11182
Denver, CO 80212


Friday and Saturday, Nov. 24-25: Equinox Theatre will donate 10 percent of all ticket sales for this weeken’s performances of Disaster the Musical to the Denver Actors Fund. 7:30 p.m. both nights at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St. BUY TICKETS

Monday, Nov. 27: Vintage Theatre will donate all proceeds from its industry-night performance of Honeymoon in Vegas on will go to Langhoff’s family, including, remarkably, box office. The DAF’s Sue Leiser will lead a collection brigade. All tickets are $15 for this performance only. At 1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or BUY TICKETS
Tuesday, Nov. 28: National Giving Tuesday
Sunday Dec. 3: Miners Alley Playhouse’s annual benefit performance with all proceeds (door, bucket, bar tips) going to the Denver Actors Fund. Curtain 6 p.m. in Golden. BUY TICKETS

Tuesday, Dec. 5: Colorado Gives Day: Please help us get the word out and encourage any friends, family or other potential donors. This is the single largest annual revenue day of the year, and we need all the organic support we can to get the word out. You can schedule donation early (as in now). DONATE

Monday, Dec. 11: Denver Actors Fund Presents … “Elf” at the Alamoo Drafthouse Denver, with live entertainment from the Longmont Theatre Company’s “Harry Connick Jr.’s The Happy Elf.” BUY TICKETS

Wednesday, Dec. 13: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company is donating all proceeds from its performance of Every Christmas Story Every Told on Dec. 13 to the DAF’s Daniel Langhoff Fund. At the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder. BUY TICKETS

Tuesday, Dec. 19: The Nightly Met Christmas Special at the D.L. Parsons Theatre in Northglenn, hosted by Avery Anderson and Annie Dwyer, featuring Anna High, and Ryan Chrys and Rough Cuts. Tickets $8-$10. All proceeds to the Denver Actors Fund. BUY TICKETS


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