MONDAYS DARK BRINGS IN BIG ENTERTAINMENT NAMES FOR A SIX-HOUR TELETHON TO BENEFIT LOCAL PERFORMERS
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Las Vegas in March, Mark Shunock vowed to keep the lights on for his monthly charity event, Mondays Dark. He’d have to change a few things, of course, pivoting from his typically sold-out, 300-seat shows at his venue the Space to a streaming event, but March’s show went on, and Shunock raised $10,000 for the local nonprofit Refuge for Women.
On April 27, the online Mondays Dark returns with its biggest version: a six-hour virtual telethon benefiting a national nonprofit dear to Shunock’s heart, the Actors Fund. The lineup, announced Monday, includes appearances from some of the biggest names in Vegas entertainment, including Brad Garrett, Shania Twain, Wayne Newton, Cirque du Soleil, Olivia Newton-John, Terry Fator, Brian Newman, Blue Man Group, Human Nature and more.
“When this all happened, my social media was being inundated with friends who are in the entertainment business, who are out of work and having trouble getting help,” Shunock says. “I was aware of the Actors Fund when I was in New York and LA. They help everyone from crew members to wardrobe, dancers and musicians. If you work in the entertainment business, they help you.”
Though Mondays Dark normally partners with a local charity, Shunock saw this as an opportunity for the Actors Fund to establish a Las Vegas presence while also helping local performers who have been laid off during the coronavirus shutdown.
Mondays Dark helps all these amazing charities, and it’s because of all the entertainers that Mondays Dark is where it is today—because of all the entertainers that have donated their talents,” Shunock says. Now, he’s hoping to “return the favor after all these years” and “make the Actors Fund a household name for the entertainment community.”
For the telethon—set to run from 5 to 11 p.m.—Shunock has recruited 50 performers and celebrities, including Bar Rescue’s Jon Taffer, Joey Fatone, Clint Holmes, Dot-Marie Jones, the Vegas Golden Knights, Debbie Gibson, Gordie Brown, Deana Martin, Daniel Emmet, Frankie Scinta, Bucky Heard and many others.
Shunock says he had no choice but to go big. “We’ve done over 100 90-minute to 200-minute variety shows. This one is going to be much longer, but we’re going to try to stick to the same format … and if I can channel my inner Jerry Lewis to stay awake, then I will,” he says, laughing. “I’m optimistic that over the course of those six hours we will see a great viewership, and they’ll click the link and make a donation. The key is to just support the Actors Fund and support the local entertainment community.”
Free to stream, this telethon edition of Mondays Dark will provide viewers with the opportunity to donate online, by phone or by text. “I’m just hoping everyone turns on their smartphones and computers and tunes in,” he says. “It’s about raising awareness for this organization and really honoring the work that entertainers do in the city to make it go. We take the shows for granted sometimes, but they’re a big reason why 50 million people come to Vegas every year.”