Video: ‘Motherhood’ proceeds benefit Denver Actors Fund

DAFDonations are being taken this weekend at three concert readings of the new musical “Motherhood” to benefit the Denver Actors Fund.

“Motherhood” was written Mitch Samu. His wife, Kristen, is among the five performers. She is also heading the Denver Actors Fund’s new “Meal Preparation” and “Meal Delivery” Action Teams.

The concert readings are being performed by Clarissa Hope Stranske, Jacquie Jo Billings, Kristen Samu, Megan Van De Hey and Sarah Rex.

Admission is free. All donations will go to the Denver Actors Fund, a new source of immediate, situational relief for when members of the local theater community find themselves in sudden medical need.

The remaining readings will be held at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Saturday, March 1), and at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 2, at Columbine United Church, 6375 S. Platte Canyon Road, Littleton.

“Motherhood” performers Sarah Rex and Megan Van De Hey.

Other upcoming opportunities to support the Denver Actors Fund include:

*All proceeds from both the Thursday and Friday (March 6-7) performances of the Grant-Humphreys Mansion’s “Tomorrow in the Battle” will go to the Denver Actors Fund. The play stars award-winnning actors Bill Hahn, Rachel Fowler and Gabra Zackman. The director is Tara Falk. Admission is free. Reservations are required by emailing There are a few remaining tickets for Thursday, but Friday is sold out. The address is 770 Pennsylvania St.

*Stagecraft, a new company headed by Wes Munsil, will donate $1 for every ticket to its upcoming production of “Copenhagen” that is sold between midnight tonight (Saturday, March 1) and midnight next Friday (March 7). “Copenhagen,” by Michael Frayn and directed by Bernie Cardell, will be staged May 9-June 7 at the John Hand Theater on the Colorado Free University campus. Click here for ticket information.

To donate directly to the Denver Actors Fund, please go here (with our humble thanks):


To apply for Denver Actors Fund aid: Download the brief form by clicking here

Click here to view the Denver Actors Fund’s complete 2014 Action Plan.


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‘Step Up to the Mic’: A special karaoke party fundraiser June 1



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

Scott Bellot
Rachel Bouchard
Joanie Brosseau
Steven Burge
Seth Caikowski
Brian Colonna
Rich Cowden
Ben Dicke
Diana Dresser
Hannah Duggan
Danny Harrigan
Anna High
GerRee Hinshaw
Tim Howard
Carla Kaiser Kotrc
Traci Kern
Geoff Kent
Matt LaFontaine
Daniel Langhoff
Trina Magness
Lauren Cora Marsh
Abby McInerney
Kent Randell
Rob Rehburg
Sarah Rex
Alejandro Roldan
Erin Rollman
Kristen Samu
Shannan Steele
Markus Warren
Jalyn Courtenay Webb
Evan Weissman
Meredith Young
Lisa Young
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.

About CultureWest.Org
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.

Photos: Shelly Bordas benefit performances raise money, lift hearts

The video above is Part 2 from my ongoing video documentary, “The Shelly Bordas Story.”


By John Moore
March 4, 2013

Back-to-back benefits for Shelly Bordas on Sunday and Monday nights brought grassroots fundraising efforts to help the cancer-stricken Denver mother, teacher and actor to nearly $30,000.

On Sunday, a concert organized by Mitch Samu was held at the Columbine United Church in Littleton. Some of the theater community’s most accomplished singers offered an evening of pop songs, Broadway tunes and spirituals. Featured performers included Joanie Brosseau, Sarah Rex, Megan Van De Hey, Thad Valdez, Ryan Belinak, Colin Hearn, Barry Brown, Kristen Samu and Tag Worley. The guest speaker was the church’s pastor, Steve Poos-Benson.


On Monday, a benefit performance of the Broadway musical “9 to 5” was held at the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center, where Bordas still teaches youth theater classes when she is up for it.


Both events were “pay what you can.” Sunday’s event raised $1,500; Monday’s another $2,400.

Before Monday’s performance, Denver actor, director and photographer Sarah Roshan presented Bordas with a check for $15,000. That’s the first payout from a fundraising web site Roshan started on GoGetFunding.Com to help defray Bordas’ medical costs, and help establish a college trust for her son, Nathan, who turns 4 next month.


Bordas has been battling breast cancer since 2009. In December 2012, she learned it has spread to her brain. Doctors have told her they cannot guarantee her a year, or even a week.

Bordas, who was hospitalized for five days last week with a blood infection, was able to attend the first half of Sunday’s benefit concert with her son, Nathan, and the first act of “9 to 5” the next night. At Monday’s benefit, Bordas expressed both her gratitude and embarrassment for all the love that has been flowing her way these past two months.

What got all of these fundraising efforts started was Bordas having to drop out of “9 to 5” to spend as much of her remaining time as possible with her son. She mentioned to the cast that her immediate goal was to take her son on a Disney cruise, “because I need to see that happen.” On Monday, she said she has booked a week-long Disney cruise to the Caribbean launching May 4 to celebrate Nathan’s 4th birthday. She will be accompanied by a team of family and care-givers, all made possible by the generosity of donors from the theater community and around the world.

To learn more about Shelly Bordas’ story, please take a look at my ongoing video documentary, “The Shelly Bordas Story”:

Part 1: “Tit for Tot”
Part 2: “My Son Wins” (embedded at the top of the page)
Part 3 will focus on how the community has responded to Bordas’ illness.

Here’s how fundraising efforts have broken down to date:
GoGet Funding.Com fundraising page: $17,520
Checks mailed to Town Hall Arts Center: $6,000
Benefit performances (including a night of improv at Voodoo Comedy Playhouse): $4,170
Contribution from the family of late actor Doug Rosen: $2,000

Dani Nelson Everson, a hair stylist who has never met Bordas, will host a cut-a-thon to benefit Bordas from 4-6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 8 at Clementine’s Denver, 2009 W. 33rd Ave. Phone: 720-328-3594.

Note: the coordinator of all Shelly Bordas fundraising efforts is Kelly Kates. Her email is

Click here to subscribe to the Monthly E-Newsletter

Photos, Part 1: Benefit performance of “9 to 5”:
All photos by John Moore for www.CultureWest.Org.

Denver actor Sue Leiser presents Bordas with a production photo signed by the Los Angeles cast of “9 to 5,” currently featuring Denver native and Broadway veteran Beth Malone. They also sent a check for $150 that Malone had collected from L.A. cast members.


Part of the “9 to 5” cast backstage, from left: Taylor Young, Rebekah Ortiz, Norrell Moore, Matthew D. Peters, Rae Klapperich, Melissa Morris and Rob Rehburg.


Shelly Bordas with “9 to 5” director, and old friend, Christopher Willard.


“9 to 5” cast member Matthew D. Peters is having way too much fun with the many readily available costumes backstage at the Town Hall Arts Center.


Sarah Roshan presents Shelly Bordas with a $15,000 check from her fundraising page at


Denver actor Lisa Young.


Margie Lamb, who plays Violet in “9 to 5,” left, with Denver actor Carla Kaiser Kotrc, who attended college with Shelly Bordas at Western State in Gunnison.

(Please click below to go to the next page and see more photos from Sunday’s benefit concert at Columbine United Church.)