By John Moore
May 5, 2013
This has been a time of extraordinary personal challenge for members of the Colorado theater community. Many of our friends have found themselves in great and sudden need, and with numbing regularity: Shelly Bordas’ terminal cancer prognosis. Frank Oteri and Max Peterson facing expensive colon surgeries. Robert Michael Sanders’ botched shoulder surgery. And many others.
In every case, the Colorado theater community has rallied with their dollars and outstretched arms. Now CultureWest.Org is announcing the creation of the Denver Actors Fund – although its potential beneficiaries will not be limited to Denver, or actors.
CultureWest is proud to announce its first public event: “Step Up to the Mic” will be a ridiculous, late-night karaoke party that is intended to build both community and seed money for the Denver Actors Fund. It will be held from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday, June 1, at the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse in downtown Denver. The party will be hosted by shameless karaoke king Kent Randell, and will feature both members of the public, and an all-star performing crew.
This unique night of karaoke silliness will generate the seed money for the creation of the Denver Actors Fund, a new resource that will make emergency funds available to members of the local theater community when they encounter unexpected, immediate medical hardship.
Anyone in attendance will be invited to sing their own song (for a buck), or put our all-star volunteer performing panel to work (for $10). Want to hear, say, Steven Burge sing Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass”? Rich Cowden sing “Stayin’ Alive”? Traci Kern and Lauren Cora Marsh sing “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” as a duet? You can have any members of our all-star performing panel sing anything you want to hear — in whatever combination of performers you choose. The (growing) list of performers is below.
The audience will be encouraged to vote for their favorite performances with their dollars. Our dry-erase tote board will keep the crowd informed of how the voting is going. Put $1 toward Kent Randell’s version of “It’s Raining Men.” Or heck, put down $20. Or, if you think Tim Howard’s version of “Strange Fruit” was better, throw a few more dollars his way to keep him in the running. All cash put toward the voting will go directly to the Denver Actors Fund.
Many actors, designers, directors, writers, directors and technical crew live on the edge, often without steady outside employment or health insurance. The Denver Actors Fund will be a modest, discretionary resource that will make some emergency funds available to individuals on a case-to-case basis, based on circumstances and present health of the fund. These last few months have also seen a number of unexpected deaths, including Adam Perkes, Angela Johnson, Brook Millard and Shana Dowdeswell. It is hoped the Denver Actors Fund will also be in a position to contribute to memorial and scholarship funds whenever members of our community pass away.
It is hoped the fund will be regularly replenished by similar fundraising events, as well as public and private donations.
The idea for this fund came to me a year ago, when I was the beneficiary of great emotional support while I was having my own health crisis. In the past few months, we have also seen friends raise $30,000 for Shelly Bordas to take her son on a Disney cruise and help with her mounting medical expenses. Last week, when friends learned that Robert Michael Sanders has at least temporarily lost the ability to move his fingers, they kicked $6,000 his way in the first 24 hours after on online fund was launched.
Recently, I became the surprise beneficiary of unexpected financial support when a sneaky group of Colorado theater people conspired to load my porch up with gift cards. Time to pay it forward.
The title of the evening is both a nod to a song from “Kids from Fame,” and a call to action. “Step Up to the Mic” invites everyone to step up to the mic … and step up for the Colorado theater community. You never know when you are going to be the one in need.
“Step Up to the Mic” is made possible thanks to Stephen Wilder, Jessica Austgen and the Voodoo Comedy Playhouse.
STEP UP TO THE MIC/At a glance
An evening of karaoke and contests
A benefit to create the Denver Actors Fund
Saturday, June 1
10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Voodoo Comedy Playhouse, 1260 22nd St., downtown Denver (between Lawrence and Larimer streets)
Hosted by Kent Randell
Suggested donation: $5; cash only (ATM available)
Presented by John Moore and CultureWest.Org
More Information: 720-231-7547
Our all-star performing panel (to date):
(This list will continue to grow up to June 1. To volunteer to be added to this list, simply email John Moore at cultureWestJohn@gmail.com)
Carla Kaiser Kotrc
Lauren Cora Marsh
Jalyn Courtenay Webb
And, fates willing … Megan Van De Hey and Robert Michael Sanders!
How you can donate right now
If you would like to help provide some of the seed money for the creation of the Denver Actors Fund, thanks! Just go to our fundraising page here to contribute.
Former Denver Post theater critic John Moore launched www.CultureWest.Org in August 2012 to change the way arts and culture are covered in Denver. In addition to reporting breaking news, his innovations have included several long-form video news documentaries; a daily Q&A with local theater directors; and an ambitious, year-long photo series titled, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado.” He also is the founder of the Denver Poust Underground Music Showcase (The UMS), entering its 13th year as now the largest music festival in Denver with more than 350 bands playing over four days.