Denver Actors Fund in Action: Melissa Lucero McCarl

Melissa McCarl.
Photo by Jeremy Rill.


‘I am a part of a community that takes care of its own in a profound way’

Aid recipient: Melissa Lucero McCarl is a prominent Denver playwright, director and actor. She is perhaps best known for writing the Denver Post Ovation Award-winning “Painted Bread,” about the fractured life of Frida Kahlo; “Poignant Irritations,” about Gertrude Stein; and “Lost Creatures,” which imagines the 1978 meeting between British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan and his longtime cinematic idol, Louise Brooks. As an actor she recently played Rita in Town Hall Arts Center’s “Casa Valentina.” Directing credits include the Aurora Fox’s “Anna in the Tropics,” “Real Women Have Curves” and “Hi-Hat Hattie”; Town Hall’s “Swingtime Canteen” and “The King and I”; and the Athena Project’s “Tell Martha Not to Moan.” Melissa attended Loretto Heights College and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

Her medical story: Melissa recently needed and an emergency-room visit requiring injection therapy and pathology. She was left with a post-insurance, out-of-pocket bill of  3,284.22. Like many in our community, Melissa has had all of her upcoming work canceled by COVID-19 and no significant sources of new income to take on this bill.

How we helped: The Denver Actors Fund has been experiencing an unprecedented run on our reserves in 2020, having sent out more than $58,000 in direct medical relief in the first four months of the year – not including the $50,000 in emergency funding we have paid out through our new DEAR Fund to support Colorado theatre artists who have lost the ability to earn income during the COVID-19 shutdown. So the Board has instituted a more conservative, temporary compensation formula. Essentially, until we can start replenishing our general fund through live performance fundraisers, the Board is compensating qualified applicants at a level that is about 70 percent of normal. In Melissa’s case, the Board has voted to reimburse her with $2,300, or 70 percent of her obligation. With targeted donations from the community, The Denver Actors Fund’s total support for Melissa is now $2,475.

How you can help us help Melissa more: Even after our assistance, Melissa has about $984 remaining on her balance. If you would like to direct a specific donation to help Melissa pay down her bill, simply mail checks in any amount made out to The Denver Actors Fund (with Melissa McCarl’s name written in the topic field), to P.O. Box 11182, Denver, CO 80211. Or use this donation link. If you use the online option, be sure to designate that your donation is targeted for Melissa McCarl. (She will receive 100 percent of your donation.) Otherwise, your donation will be applied to the replenishment of The Denver Actors Fund’s general fund.

A message from Melissa: “Having to get an emergency procedure right as the pandemic hit was not ideal. Receiving the large bill after learning that I’d lost at least $5,000 worth of gigs felt catastrophic. Having The DAF come to the rescue so quickly and effectively felt nothing short of miraculous. Sometimes it can be tempting to think: ‘I’ve spend most of my life making theatre, but what do I really have to show for it?’ Being reminded that I am a part of a community that takes care of its own in this profound way makes me think that I have a lot to show for it indeed.”

The Denver Actors Fund now has made more than $538,000 available to Colorado artists in need.

How you can help us help us help more Colorado theatre artists: If you would like to make a donation to The Denver Actors Fund, simply mail checks in any amount made out to Denver Actors Fund to P.O. Box 11182, Denver, CO 80211. Or use this donation link, with our humble thanks.

Read testimonials from other Denver Actors Fund beneficiaries here

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.


Cast members from Town Hall Arts Center’s 2019 production of ‘Casa Valentina.’ Photo by John Moore.


The Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in medical need. In addition to $538,000 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

Hippo Health LogoGET 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.


TUESDAY, MAY 5: Need some happy? The Happy Hour Foundation is partnering with CreativeMornings/Denver for a special virtual happy hour benefiting three local nonprfits including the Denver Actors Fund. How It Works: Step 1. Strap on your mask. Step 2. Buy some beer to go from Strange Craft Beer Company and FlyteCo Brewing between May 1 and 3. Step 3. Go home and wash your hands for 20 seconds. Step 4. Log on to our virtual happy hour on May 5. Step 5. Socialize while socially distanced. This event supports Prime Health, Denver Actors Fund and Culinary Hospitality Outreach & Wellness. Info:


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