(HAMMONTON, NJ) -- Eagle Theatre has announced its first mainstage productions since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a “mini season” of two plays that celebrate the power of art to transform our lives. These two shows, the first produced under the leadership of producing artistic director Angela Longo and managing director Matthew Reddin, will safely welcome audiences back to the theatre’s historic venue in downtown Hammonton through continuing safety protocols and an updated HVAC system. Additional programming, including Fall 2022 mainstage shows, will be announced in the coming months.
The Eagle’s 2022 Mini Season, including both a musical and a play, will begin with the unconventional and thrilling Xanadu (March 3-20), a fun, self-parodic adaptation of the ‘80s cult classic, featuring the music of Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). That show will be followed by Circle Mirror Transformation (May 12-29), an award-winning early work by Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker in which a six-week community center drama class allows five unique individuals the chance to reimagine their lives. Both productions will feature directors making their debut with the theatre: Xanadu will be directed by Longo herself, while Philadelphia director Tai Verley directs Circle Mirror Transformation.
After a span of more than two years between Eagle Theatre productions, Longo says she knew both of the plays in this mini season need to emphasize themes of joy, community, and the power of art itself. “There are magical and transformative experiences that only live theatre can provide,” she says. “This particular pairing of shows is so exciting because they range from wildly fantastical to completely realistic. I know these shows will move the audience in completely different ways.” She adds that while Xanadu and Circle Mirror Transformation represent unconventional choices in their own way, she and the full Eagle Theatre team believe this is in keeping with the mission and tradition of the company, telling meaningful stories that advance the experience of live theatre.
“These shows challenge not only the artists on our stage, but our audience as well,” Longo says. “They require our artists to take bold risks on stage — both physically and emotionally — and will provide an equally thrilling and challenging experience for audience members as they witness untapped artistic yearnings, musings, and inspirations right before their eyes. We’re so excited to get back to inspiring our patrons again.”
The Eagle’s return to mainstage programming comes with a unique wrinkle not shared by many of its fellow theatres -- it is also the first mainstage season for Longo, who has been leading the theatre since early 2020, as well as the rest of her staff. But she and her team have not been merely waiting out the pandemic for two years. With an eye toward this moment, Longo says the company has been reviewing and revising all internal systems and practices to ensure that the Eagle is a safer and more inclusive place for artists and audiences alike.
“Theatres across the country have been called to examine their contributions toward perpetuating racial inequities, and with that, offered the opportunity to amend those divides,” Longo says. “Eagle Theatre is no different, and we still have a long way to go. But we wanted to make sure we didn’t come back until we’d had some of those hard conversations and begun the work.”
Early steps have included the hiring of an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) consultant to facilitate monthly meetings with staff, and the elimination of 10-out-of-12 days and 6-day rehearsal weeks, one of the many demands listed by the We See You White American Theatre coalition the company is seeking to implement within the next few years. Longo hopes to implement more Eagle-specific policies as well, after reaching out to past artists over the next few months.
Mini Season Passes go on sale Monday, November 29, and will be priced at $66 per subscription. For the first 48 hours, the Eagle is offering an additional 15% off that rate. Subscriptions are available for purchase online at the Eagle Theatre’s website, eagletheatre.org, or through the company’s box office line, 609-704-5012, ext. 1. Single tickets will go on sale in January 2022, and be priced at $38 for Xanadu and $35 for Circle Mirror Transformation. Both productions will take place at the Eagle Theatre, 208 Vine St., in downtown Hammonton.
Eagle Theatre’s 2022 Mini Season
March 3-20, 2022 Xanadu - Book by Douglas Carter Beane, music & lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar; Directed by Angela Longo. When the Muses stumble across a struggling young artist, one of them volunteers to go down to Earth as his guide -- complete with Australian accent, mate! -- only to find herself doing the only two things forbidden to the Muses: creating her own art, and falling in love! Described as “Heaven on Wheels” by the New York Times, Xanadu parodies the infamous 1980 cult classic film, featuring the music of Electric Light Orchestra and a story of forbidden love, chaos, and roller disco that travels from Mount Olympus to Venice Beach, California faster than you can say “E-e-vil Woman.”
May 12-29, 2022 Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker; Directed by Tai Verley. Each of the five individuals who have come together to attend a theatre class at the community center in small-town Vermont has their unique reasons for doing so. But over six weeks of theatrical “exercises,” each of them will leave with the one thing they never expected: the chance to reimagine who they might be able to be. This witty and insightful early work by Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker doesn’t just explore why art is important to our lives. It proves it, right before your very eyes, one transformation at a time.
Eagle Theatre is dedicated to telling meaningful stories through innovative, dynamic, and professional productions that advance the experience of live theatre on our mainstage, in our community engagement, and through educational opportunities. Founded in 2009, the Eagle is a cultural center in downtown Hammonton, and is the largest Equity theatre in South Jersey.