By Elisabeth Monaghan
Since its inception, the Edge Theater has consistently showcased actors who push to give their best performances while delivering a memorable experience for the actors and audiences alike. Earlier this month, the Edge Theater’s founders, Rick and Patty Yaconis, announced they are taking a hiatus from the Edge. During that time, Haley Johnson and Rachel Bouchard will step in as Benchmark Theatre and produce shows in the space throughout the 2018 season.
Recently, members of the cast in the Edge’s upcoming production of Moira Buffini’s play “Dinner” spoke about what it has been like to work with the Yaconises.
Up first is Samara Bridwell, whose participation in “Dinner” will be her ninth play at the Edge. She discovered the Edge Theater when she moved from the Western Slope about seven years ago. Bridwell, who also serves as manager of customer experience for the theater, considers the Edge her artistic home.
“I spend most of my time pretty dedicated to the Edge these days,” says Bridwell. “The Edge came to be in its current incarnation the same year I moved here and it really did feel like a beautiful serendipity.”
Upon meeting with the Yaconises, Bridwell recognized the ground-floor opportunity the newly rebranded theater offered. Not only did she find a family in the people who work within the theater, she also met her partner Scott Bellot, who is directing “Dinner.”
Of the many local theaters on whose stages Bridwell has been privileged to perform, the Edge is the one she keeps going back to.
“It’s the kind of environment that I think actors want to work in,” said Bridwell. “It’s the kind of environment that is at once homey and professional. It’s legit, while being comfortable.”
By legit, Bridwell means the high caliber of talent and professionalism of everyone involved with the Edge – whether they work behind the scenes or on the stage.
Carol Bloom, who plays one of the leads in “Dinner,” has contributed her talents to the Denver theater scene as both an actor and as a teacher. For 27 years she was on the theater faculty at University of Colorado at Denver. For Bloom, the most touching thing that has happened to her as an actor is ending up on stage with, or being directed by one of her former students.
“That is one of the most wonderful things, and the Edge is the first place that happened,” according to Bloom. (Scott Bellot is among Bloom’s former students with whom she has worked.)
Bloom has acted in three other shows at the Edge and considers the Yaconises to be very generous and loving.
“They take such good care of their people,” explains Bloom. “It has just been a joy to be part of this theater. Rick and Patty are very much what I think theater and community are about, and they have done remarkable work. They have raised the bar on the quality of theater in this town and contributed so much.”
It was the Yaconises and their stellar reputation for producing great shows that drew Verl Hite to the Edge. Hite, who plays opposite Bloom in “Dinner,” echoes Bridwell and Bloom’s sentiments about the Yaconises and their treatment Edge company members.
“They’re just good to the people that work for them.”
Another characteristic of the Yaconises that impresses Hite is their willingness to take risks with the shows they do, and how they approach the production.
“You have to know first of all you’re not going to get rich by [working in the theater],” Hite asserts. “You do it because you love and care about it.”
While Hite will miss the Yaconises, when take their hiatus, he has worked with Johnson and Bouchard of Benchmark and knows they will carry the torch for the space by giving local actors the opportunity to be part of an exceptional theater experience.
“Dinner,” which opens on Aug. 25, is one of three remaining shows playing during the 2017 season at the Edge. Benchmark will begin producing shows at the space in 2018.