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Bernstein feels right at home in ‘Carousel’

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By Sara Miller

Rick Bernstein has made a name for himself in Denver’s theater world as the founder and executive director of Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden. On Sept. 18, Bernstein brings his directing talent a little closer to home in his directorial debut with the Evergreen Chorale’s production of “Carousel.”

“I’ll tell you, working at Center/Stage sure has saved on gas money,” laughs Bernstein. Bernstein and his wife, Paige Larson, also active in theater at Miners Alley and throughout Colorado, are Evergreen residents.

Bernstein responded to a notice put out by the chorale in search of a stage director. Gas prices were the furthest thing from his mind when he applied for the position.

“I wanted the directing job for several reasons,” Bernstein says. “First off, ‘Carousel’ is one of those shows that made an impact on me when I was a kid. This show really got me turned on to the idea of storytelling in theater.”

He also describes the opportunity to collaborate with Mike Weiker, the chorale’s longtime artistic director, as one he didn’t want to pass up.

“Mike is an icon,” Bernstein says. “He has been guiding the chorale for many years, and I knew it would be a great opportunity to join forces with a talented musical director. It’s been wonderful. Mike, as well as everyone else at the chorale, has been generous and welcoming to me.”

The collaboration with gifted theater professionals doesn’t stop with Weiker. Bernstein brought in his longtime friend Priscilla Young to choreograph the show.

“ ‘Carousel’ is a heavy dance show,” says Bernstein. “A choreographer has to accommodate the space that she is working in as well as the strengths of the individual cast members. I think Priscilla has done a marvelous job with both.”

The acting and vocal strengths of the cast truly can make or break a show. Bernstein benefited from the talents of many chorale veterans as well discovering a new crop of talent during the audition process.

“We have some amazing family connections in this show. The Montgomery family, for example. Gail Montgomery is playing Mrs. Mullin, and Bruce is playing Jigger, and those characters are archenemies. It has been fun to work with these actors who are well known in Evergreen but were new to me as a director. Gail and Bruce are fabulous playing off of one another,” says Bernstein.

The Montgomerys’ children, Jack and Paige, also have roles in the show, as well as Bruce’s parents, Peter and Betsy.

Family is at the heart of every chorale performance — the 80-member group has welcomed multiple generations of Evergreen families during its 37 years in Evergreen. Adding a new member to any “family” always requires an adjustment period, but it appears that Bernstein has settled right in.

“The selection committee talked to me during the interview about seeking new ideas and fresh approaches. It seems to have worked out very well.”

“Carousel” opens at Center/Stage on Sept. 18. For more information, visit www.evergreenchorale.org.

“Carousel”

Presented by the Evergreen Chorale Sept. 18 through Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays at Center/Stage; 27608 Fireweed Drive in Evergreen.

Tickets are $10 to $19. For ticket reservations, call 303-674-4002 or visit www.evergreenchorale.org.