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Local business owner wows as Kenny Rogers

Dave Bernard has accomplished much in his life, including his successful family-run, drill-bit sharpening company, Darex, and forming the East Main Band with a group of friends.

He can now add another feather to his cap: performing on stage as Kenny Rogers in Camelot Theatre’s "Spotlight on Kenny Rogers."

Bernard is a newcomer to Camelot Theater, but he adapted well to it, was a dream to work with, and took suggestions easily, according to Presila Quinby, the show's director.

“He’s like a sponge,” she says.

Camelot's profile of the Country Music Hall of Famer features such hits as "The Gambler," "Lady," "Lucille," "Ruby" and "Don't Take Your Love to Town," accompanied by a live orchestra. Dal Carver is music director.

Curtain is at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 17-19, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20. Tickets are $26 or $33.

Bernard played a small musical role in Camelot’s "Spotlight on Carole King," and he plays guitar and sings with the East Main Band, but this is his first time as the star of the show.

“The learning process has been memorable,” he says.

“Dave is a very humble person,” Quinby says.

The policy at the theater is to exit off the side of the stage into the wings once the show is finished and the bows completed. Then actors can greet people in the lobby. One time Bernard stepped down in front of the stage and the audience mobbed him. People hugged him, thanked him and shook his hand.

“Dave was totally shocked,” Quinby says.

Quinby also has the pleasure of performing duets with Bernard in the show. When a cast member backed out, she stepped in as narrator and performer.

Bernard’s involvement in the spotlight extends beyond his performance as Kenny Rogers. He also wrote the musical spotlight, though he initially planned to write the script for Camelot's James Taylor spotlight.

“One weekend I decided to try my hand at the Kenny Rogers script," Bernard says. "They liked it and decided to use it.”

Working and performing in a musical spotlight contrasts from a play in that the rehearsal schedule is much shorter. While play actors rehearse three to four times a week for five or six weeks for a Camelot play, a spotlight has four rehearsals.

“I didn’t know any of the songs,” Bernard says. “It’s amazing to watch a group of people who don’t play with each other often all come together in the end.”

He learned 23 songs for the show.

Another feature of the spotlight is what the audience learns during the performance. Tidbits about Kenny Rogers’ life and career are interspersed with the music.

“People think Kenny Rogers is just country music, but he’s done it all,” Bernard says.

The music spans genres of soft-rock, pop, contemporary and jazz.

“I thought this would be a job, but I’ve fallen in love with it,” Quinby says.

“At every performance, I’ve had at least one person tell me how I made them cry because the music brought back memories,” Bernard says. “It’s been fun to share that.”

Dave Bernard plays Kenny Rogers at Camelot Theatre. - Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta