Feeling the Bernie: New Aurora theater director heating up the stage

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AURORA | A familiar name will be gracing playbills on Dayton Street this fall, albeit beside a different professional title.

Bernie Cardell in The ForeignerBernie Cardell, one of the metro area’s most prolific stage directors and actors, was tapped to become the new artistic director at Aurora’s Vintage Theatre Productions late last month.

Cardell, who previously shared creative duties at The Vintage with the theater’s co-founder Craig Bond in the late aughts, said he’s excited to help elevate the Aurora-based company to a new level of recognition.

“I think The Vintage is kind of right on the edge of a major expansion,” said Cardell, who spends his weekdays working in the accounts payable department of a local engineering firm. “Not building-wise, of course, but in terms of the  audience and artists working there. I’m really looking forward to getting a lot of new people involved in The Vintage, and that includes actors, designers, artists and new patrons.”

Bond, who will now solely serve as the theater’s executive director, said that the decision to bring Cardell back stems from a desire to move to a more administrative role — one centered on outreach and fundraising.

“I’m trying to focus my efforts on fundraising and financial relationships, and Bernie will do more of the day to day — or night to night — things on the artistic side, which is good,” Bond said. “It’s strengthening the ability of the company to continue to move ahead with the good growth that we’ve put together.”

Bond said The Vintage’s county allocation from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District has swelled since the company began about 15 years ago in Denver. Back then, the company was awarded about $24,000 in SCFD funds; this year, the company was awarded about $101,000 from Arapahoe County, according to Bond.

Bond added that Cardell brings an important marketing skill set to the theater.

“When you get Bernie, you get a marketing arm,” he said. “He’s a really good publicist for himself and other companies.”

Cardell, who celebrated his 100th metro-area production last summer, also serves as the artistic director of Spotlight Theatre Company at the John Hand Theater in Denver. And while he plans to continue in his role with Spotlight for the foreseeable future, Cardell said he’s excited to pursue different kinds of productions at The Vintage.

“Spotlight has been the comfort food theater, with a lot of comedies, mysteries and ligther dramas,” he said. “I feel like at Vintage we can tackle more serious subjects. We also have a much bigger stage there, so we can take on the bigger musicals as well.”

On top of serving as artistic director, Cardell will stage direct four productions during the Vintage’s 2017 season: “Billy Elliot, The Musical,” “A Time To Kill,” “August: Osage County,” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It.”

Also, as director, Cardell recently opened a run of “Suddenly Last Summer” by Tennessee Williams at Spotlight. That show runs through Sept. 24.