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'Spotlight on the Eagles' at Camelot

Multi-instrumentalist and writer Dave Bernard is a huge Eagles fan.

Before Roy Rains left Camelot Theatre as its artistic director, he and Bernard discussed several ideas for music spotlights at the community theater.

“‘Eagles’ is the one that rose to the surface,” Bernhard says.

Writing the script, he wanted to capture the history of the Eagles when the band was at its most successful.

“We tell a bit about the earlier years,” he says. “There’s a lot of story there with the band members, what happened between them, and all of the things that they did. We’re trying to hit the highlights of their years as a band — the good stuff and the bad.”

“Spotlight on the Eagles” previews Thursday, May 24, opens Friday, May 25, and runs through June 10 at Camelot Theatre, 101 Talent Ave., Talent. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, May 24-26, May 31 through June 2, and June 7-9, and 2 p.m. Sundays, May 27, June 3 and 10. Tickets are $27 or $32, and can be purchased at camelot.org, by calling 541-535-5250, or at the box office.

Singers and songwriters Glenn Frey and Don Henley formed the rock band in 1971 with Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner. The L.A. band’s self-titled debut album was released in 1972. With six Grammies, five American Music Awards and six No. 1 albums, the Eagles became one of the most successful groups of the ’70s. Two of their albums, “Greatest Hits” and “Hotel California,” were among the top-selling albums of the 20th century.

“There’s so much,” Bernard says. “They started with the four members, and today the current band is Henley and Deacon Frey, who is Glenn Frey’s son, Timothy B. Schmidt, who joined the Eagles just before the band broke up, and the band’s veteran guitarist Joe Walsh.”

Country rocker Vince Gill of Pure Prairie League fame is also part of the new lineup.

“The show doesn’t focus much on what the band’s doing today,” Bernhard says. “We showcase how the group formed, how it broke up in 1980, and reunited in 1994. It ends with Frey’s death. A huge loss to everyone.”

As the story goes, according to Bernard, the first musician to leave the band was Leadon, who was replaced right away with guitarist Don Felder. Later guitarist Walsh was added, and he and Felder made a dynamic duo who played well off of each other.

“Felder is the one who wrote the chords for ‘Hotel California,’ ” Bernard says. “We’ll be playing all the hits: “Heartache Tonight,’ ‘Desperado,’ some old ones like ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ and ‘Take It Easy,’ and some from ’79’s ‘The Long Run,’ including the title cut and ‘One of These Nights.’ ”

Guitarists Bernhard, Ken Kigel and Will Bartell will switch lead guitar parts on and off throughout the show, and play dueling guitars just as Felder and Walsh did.

Mike Gardiner will be featured on keys and bass, and Mike Dadaos on drums. All multi-instrumentalists but for Dadaos, the musicians will switch instruments throughout the show.

“I’ll play drums a little bit and try to emulate Don Henley on ‘Life in the Fast Lane,’ ” Bernard says. “He would say it’s easier to play the drums and sing than play guitar and sing. Frey was actually a good lead guitar player, but he wasn’t as good as Felder or Walsh, so he stepped back from it.”

One of the challenges of the show is to condense the Eagles’ 47 years of history and hits into a two-hour show, Bernard says.

“There will be some surprises that even a real big Eagles fan could learn,” he says. “I really dug.”

Bernard considers “Hotel California” to be the high point of the Eagles’ career, released in 1976.

“I think the lowest point of their career was when they were writing and recording ‘The Long Run’ before its 1979 release. It was a pretty bad experience for them, yet it was when they created some of their best music.

“The band often talked about the tension they needed to write some of their stuff. It often came from dark places. It’s hard to know for sure, but they say they didn’t run from those places, they actually embraced them.”

Bernard adds that one of the funnest things about the show is singing the harmonies. When he and the others sang the songs for Camelot Theatre’s new artistic director Shawn Ramagos, it was “Seven Bridges Road” that he liked best.

“We’ll also be switching leads on songs,” Bernard says. “But we’ll all be singing harmonies.”

Alex Boyles narrates the performances in the style of a radio show, talking to the band members about the music. Boyles also lends his vocals to “Heartache Tonight.”

Photo by Steve SutfinWill Bartell, left, Dave Bernard, Mike Dadaos, Ken Kigel and Mike Gardiner play Eagles hits in Camelot Theatre's new music spotlight.