Denver Actors Fund in Action: Todd Debreceni

Todd Debreceni
Examples of Todd Debreceni’s special-effects stage work.

2020 keeps punching special effects master in the face

Denver native John Carroll Lynch is featured on the cover of Todd Debreceni’s book.

Aid recipient: Todd Debreceni of Aurora is Colorado’s most experienced and awarded prosthetic makeup effects artist, with more than 40 years in the entertainment industry. He has created prosthetics and special effects for innumerable film and local stage productions, most recently Littleton Town Hall Arts Center’s 2018 production of “A Christmas Carol.” Todd is the recipient of a 2017 Henry Award for his extensive body of work; a 2015 DCPA True West Award for “Shrek the Musical” and “Young Frankenstein”; and 2006 and 2009 Denver Post Ovation Awards for “The Wiz” and “Man of La Mancha,” respectively. Todd is also the author of the best-selling makeup effects book, “Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen,” now in its third edition. He is the husband of prolific local Music Director Donna Debreceni, who again volunteered her talents as Musical Director of “Miscast 2019,” the major annual fundraiser for The Denver Actors Fund. Todd performed “Agony” from “Into the Woods” with Mark Shonsey as Jacob Marley and Mark Shonsey, respectively. The event raised more than $8,600 for The DAF.

His medical story: odd was diagnosed with prostate cancer in April 2019. In the course of his ongoing treatment, he has accrued substantial bills from a variety of medical providers. While they do not account for the totality of his financial burden, Todd submitted to us six outstanding bills for consideration of reimbursement totaling $3,585.10. As his treatment continued, Todd was only asking for just enough help to keep his continuing out-of-pocket costs manageable.

Todd and Donna Debreceni at the 2017 Henry Awards. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins.

How we initially helped Todd: The Denver Actors Fund Board of Directors voted in August 2019 to reimburse Todd for the full $3,585.10 in medical bills he had submitted to date, while leaving his case open for further consideration as he accrued additional medical expenses.

How we most recently helped: As Todd continued his treatment, over the next few months, his medical bills continued to accumulate. Fifty, to be exact. That’s how many new  bills he’d been sent, ranging from physical therapy to urology checks to prescriptions. The total came to $2,807.97 in additional out-of-pocket responsibility. The Denver Actors Fund compensated the Debrecenis for the full amount, $2,807.97.

The next chapter: Todd has been recently been diagnosed with Cold Agglutinin Disease, a rare and incurable blood disorder that is triggered by cold weather and makes your body’s immune system attack your red blood cells. And it has stabbed the family in the pocket book yet again. Todd underwent a new round of chemo that is holding the condition off, but it left him with another out-of-pocket bill totaling $2,517.34. The DAF Board of Directors has voted unanimously to pay this bill. To date, including an additional $1,439 in targeted donations from the community, The Denver Actors Fund now has provided the Debrecenis with $10,349 in overall medical assistance.

How you can help us help Todd more: Todd is in this cancer journey for the long haul. If you would like to direct a specific donation to help give him some additional breathing room as he continues his cancer treatments, simply mail checks in any amount made out to The Denver Actors Fund (with Todd Debreceni’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 Todd Debreceni. (He 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 Todd: A message from Todd: “Donna and I appreciate The Denver Actors Fund more than words can describe. I am hesitant to ask for more help when you’ve been so generous already, but 2020 has hammered us, like so many of our peers. This round of chemo is done for now and seems to have worked, but I am likely to have periodic treatments for years to come since there is no cure yet for this blood disease. I am one of the fortunate six people in 1.2 million to have it. The support we have received from The Denver Actors Fund is incredible, and we are (again) forever grateful.”

The Denver Actors Fund has now made more than $677,000 available to Colorado artists in medical need.

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.

From left: Todd Debreceni, Donna Debreceni and Mark Shonsey perform at ‘Miscast’ 2019 to benefit The Denver Actors Fund. Photo by John Moore.


Todd Debreceni with pop star Debby Boone, whom he turned into The Witch for Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s ‘Into the Woods.’


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 $677,000 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



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



Check out who’s scheduled to perform in this year’s virtual ‘CAST 2020!’

AVAILABLE NOW: This year “Miscast,” the major annual fundraiser for The Denver Actors Fund, 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, with 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 grateful to all of them for making this important event possible, and to you for watching.

ONGOING:Waiting for Obama,” the audio version of John Moore’s play that was an official selection at the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival, has been released as way of raising funds 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. Featuring 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! Or, WATCH the recording as a pay-per-view video for $9.95 on Broadway on Demand. ‘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 donated their 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