2016 True West Award: Patty Yaconis

True West Awards. Patty Yaconis. Edge Theatre



Day 15: Patty Yaconis

                         Presented by Actor Emma Messenger

For a glamorous woman, Patty Yaconis certainly takes on a lot of unglamorous work as Managing Director of The Edge Theatre, from hauling laundry to cleaning toilets.

“But sometimes it’s the quiet woman behind the man who deserves a bit of appreciation,” award-winning actor Emma Messenger says of the other half of the Yaconis power couple not named Rick. “Patty is there night after night acting as a beautiful hostess for the company, and she’s there long after the lights go down making everything continue to run smoothly for the actors.”

True West Awards. Patty Yaconis Quote. Rick and Patty Yaconis took over the E-Project Theatre in Lakewood and renamed it The Edge Theatre in 2010 with the stated objective of lifting it from the overcrowded pack of small, similar neighborhood troupes in the Denver area. And while The Edge retains some enduring and endearing characteristics of a neighborhood community theatre, it has taken large and unmistakable steps toward its stated goal – namely in the regular hiring of top directors and actors and continuing to present challenging and often provocative fare.

Rick Yaconis was recognized for his part in The Edge’s continued upward trajectory with a True West Award in 2014. This year, the spotlight shifts to his wife, who was responsible for 2016 being designated “The Year of Women” at The Edge. It was a commitment that not only gainfully employed many of Colorado’s best female actors, but it kept the audience’s focus on important women’s issues while re-familiarizing them with some killer historical figures such as Medea and Marie Antoinette.

As The Edge’s in-house dramaturg, Patty Yaconis searches out quality and important roles for women, said Sherrill, whose hiring as Associate Artistic Director in May was one of The Edge’s biggest coups of 2016. “Patty’s mantra is, ‘Let’s get these strong, talented women into The Edge Theatre and let them do their thing.’ ”

This year, a lot of really strong, talented women did their thing at The Edge – most of them portraying a wide variety of female protagonists trying, in their own and very different ways, to start their lives anew. Women like Karen Slack, Missy Moore, Emma Messenger and Shannan Steele, for starters. Here’s a sample of the breadth and variety of the work they took on in 2016:

  • Missy Moore won the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Henry Award for her performance as a bottled-up and broken-down ex-convict trying to start her life over in Marsha Norman’s Getting Out.
  • True West Awards. Patty Yaconis. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins. Powerhouse and powder-keg actor Karen Slack took on no less than the scorned, child-murdering mother in the bloody Greek tragedy Medea.
  • Patty Yaconis herself took on the monster challenge of playing a wealthy Texas widow who turns to her surprisingly complex Cuban writer-turned-gardener in Robert Schenkkan’s steamy romance By the Waters of Babylon.
  • Shannan Steele played a checkered young mother whose Upper West Side life goes scratch just as quickly as an errant 8-ball drops into a side pocket when she crosses paths with a dangerous man from her past in the angry rock musical Murder Ballad – a first for The Edge.
  • Moore was back in high heels and runway kimonos in Marie Antoinette, David Adjmi’s contemporary take on the spoiled and fated young queen of France who pays dearly for her extravagance and artifice.
  • Emma Messenger, who has won four True West Awards in the past three years alone, wrapped the audience around her little finger without even leaving the couch in the one-woman play I’ll Eat You Last, a comic monologue about a self-invented woman in the boys club of Hollywood agents.
  • This year The Edge’s focus on women even extended to men. Harvey Fierstein’s Casa Valentina told the remarkable, true story of 1960s heterosexual men who regularly escaped to an inconspicuous bungalow colony in the Catskill Mountains to temporarily escape being … well, men.

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

Part of what makes Patty Yaconis so beloved by the ever-growing inner circle at The Edge Theatre, Sherrill said, is that she lives her life with such total and apparent joy – evidenced most recently by her decision to train to become a certified pole-fitness instructor at Tease Studio in Denver. That’s quintessential Patty Yaconis.

“I took it on as a whim as a birthday present to myself,” she said in a recent interview with the Women’s Radio Network. “I promised myself that I would always try to do something new every birthday. Pole fitness was addicting from the very first time I tried it not only because it was a great workout, but because I just felt this immediate high. It left me in such a good mood.”

But Yaconis is rarely – if ever – not in a good mood, said Messenger, which is only one more reason she is so adored. Another is for the way she treats others.

“Patty is a truly kind and caring person to all of the artists here at The Edge,” Sherrill said.

Read about Rick Yaconis’ 2014 True West Award

True West Awards. Patty Yaconis Quote. Rachel D. Graham Photography

(Photos, above and right: Patty and Rick Yaconis at the 2016 Henry Awards. Photo by Brian Landis Folkins. Above: M. Scott McLean and Patty Yaconis in The Edge Theatre’s ‘Casa Valentina.’ Photo by Rachel D. Graham Photography.)


The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org


Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
Day 3: After Orlando
Day 4: Michael Morgan
Day 5: Beth Beyer
Day 6: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
Day 7: donnie l. betts
Day 8: Night of the Living Dead
Day 9: The Killer Kids of Miscast
Day 10: Jason Sherwood
Day 11: Leslie O’Carroll and Steve Wilson
Day 12: Jonathan Scott-McKean
Day 13: Jake Mendes
Day 14: Charles R. MacLeod
Day 15: Patty Yaconis
Day 16: Daniel Langhoff
Day 17: Colorado Shakespeare Festival costumers
Day 18: Miriam Suzanne
Day 19: Yolanda Ortega
Day 20: Diana Ben-Kiki
Day 21: Jeff Neuman
Day 22: Gabriella Cavallero
Day 23: Matthew Campbell
Day 24: Sharon Kay White
Day 25: John Hauser
Day 26: Lon Winston
Day 27: Jason Ducat
Day 28: Sam Gregory
Day 29: Warren Sherrill
Day 30: The Women Who Run Theatre in Boulder
Theatre Person of the Year Billie McBride

Video bonus: John Moore’s look back at the opening of The Edge Theatre in 2010:

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *