Denver Actors Fund in Action: Patrick and Melissa Sawyer


Financial-aid recipients: Patrick and Melissa Swift-Sawyer are longtime contributors to the Colorado theater community. Patrick’s roots go back 40 years, from performing in melodramas at the historic Imperial Hotel in Cripple Creek (where he grew up) to The Crystal Palace in Aspen, Boulder’s Dinner Theater, The Carousel Dinner Theater (now Midtown Arts Center) in Fort Collins and most recently at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Johnstown for the past eight years – six as Food & Beverage Manager and the past two as Production Manager. Roles of note there include playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof (opposite his wife as Golde) and Edna in Hairspray, among many others, along with direction of several shows, most recently Evita and South Pacific. Melissa perfromed for more than 250,000 patrons starring in Always…Patsy Cline at the Denver Center’s Galleria Theatre from 1995-99. She has since played many roles at the Candlelight and the Arvada Center. The Denver Post called her voice magnificent and her performance transformative as the racist mother of a pioneering DJ in Memphis. The Sawyers make their home in Westminster with their daughter Abby, a sophomore at Pomona High School.

 Real-life husband and wife team Melissa Swift-Sawyer and Patrick Sawyer play Golde and Tevye in the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse production of "Fiddler on the Roof." (Special to Go) "Fiddler on the Roof," winner of 11 Tony Awards, opened Thursday at the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, featuring real-life husband and wife team, Patrick Sawyer and Melissa Swift-Sawyer in the roles of Tevye and Golde. One of the most famous married couples in musical theater history, Tevye and Golde, parents of five daughters, struggle with a hard life in Tsarist Russia in 1905. Tevye, especially, bravely attempts to maintain his family and Jewish religious traditions while outside influences encroach upon their lives. "Fiddler on the Roof" is a timeless classic from a book by Joseph Stein that was based on "Tevye and His Daughters" by Sholem Aleichem. The show opened in September 1964 at the Imperial Theatre, and then in February 1967 at Her Majesty's Theatre. It ran for seven years and nine months and was the first Broadway production to stage over 3,000 performances. The film version was released
The real-life husband-and-wife team of Melissa Swift-Sawyer and Patrick Sawyer played Golde and Tevye in the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Their medical story: For all the work the Sawyers have logged in Colorado theatre, they are both currently unemployed, and the timing could not have been worse for Patrick, who recently underwent emergency triple bypass heart surgery. The Sawyers have no insurance, but thankfully Medicaid will cover the majority of their medical expenses. But deductibles and other real-world living expenses are accruing, and they presently have no incoming income.

How we will help: The Denver Actors Fund has made $2,500 available to the Sawyer family to pay for their initial uncovered medical expenses to date and help with living expenses as Patrick continues to recover.

UPDATE: To help the Sawyers with essential expenses as Patrick’s rehabilitation from heart surgery has continued, the DAF board has agreed to provide an additional $2,000. DAF supporters have kicked in another $417, bringing the total support from DAF efforts to $5,017.

Help us help the Sawyer family more: There is obviously much continuing financial uncertainty in the Sawyer family’s immediate future. If you would like to target a specific donation to help give the Sawyers some more breathing room in the coming weeks and months, simply mail checks in any amount made out to Denver Actors Fund (with the Sawyer name written 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 a targeted donation to the Sawyers. Otherwise, your donation will be applied to the replenishment of the DAF’s general fund.


A message from Patrick and Melissa Sawyer: “We would like to thank the Denver Actors Fund for the immense and immediate generosity to help make ends meet in this difficult situation – one that many, many performers are in due to their commitment to perform their craft in an industry that doesn’t often provide insurance or enough income to purchase it. It is so comforting to know that there is an entire community of people who go the extra mile to help those of their own kind in tough times. We look forward to supporting the DAF in any way we can going forward to help this amazing organization help others in need.”

(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.)


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 $66,000 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 DONATE the Denver Actors Fund:

Please CLICK HERE (with our humble thanks):


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


“DENVER ACTORS FUND PRESENTS …” MONTHLY FILM SERIES: The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Littleton hosts a monthly film series in partnership with the Denver Actors Fund featuring films inspired by musicals and plays that are currently being performed by a Colorado theatre company. Next up on Monday, Dec. 5, is It’s a Wonderful Life, featuring pre-screening entertainment by cast members from Spotlight Theatre Company’s upcoming stage production of It’s a Wonderful Life: The Live Radio Play. Join us for live musical performances, talk, trivia, prize giveaways … and the movie! RESERVE YOUR SEAT NOW

Coming up next:

6:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22: Billy Elliot, with entertainment from Vintage Theatre

Feb. 16, 18 and 22: Special Fathom Events screening of Newsies, featuring Jeremy Jordan

6:30 p.m. Monday, March 13: Jesus Christ Superstar, with entertainment from the Arvada Center


Denver Actors Fund


poster1.4_Cross 134 women (and a few token dudes) from the Colorado theater community, all supporting the Denver Actors Fund. They cost $20 per poster (20×28). To order, email your quantity to We’ll take care of delivery and payment from there.



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