HAMMONTON — The Eagle Theatre has been nominated for four of Philadelphia’s Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Professional Theatre.
Three years ago, due to its distance from the city, the theater was unable to qualify. But an addendum was passed that gave the theater the opportunity to sit at the big kids’ table. Since then, the Eagle Theatre has been nominated for nine Barrymore Awards, making it the only theater in South Jersey nominated.
The awards are named after the Philadelphia family of American theater John, Ethel and Lionel Barrymore. Lionel and Ethel were both Broadway actors, while John acted in multiple performances such as “Hamlet” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” John’s granddaughter is actress Drew Barrymore.
On Aug. 21, Theatre Philadelphia announced the 2017 award nominees and three Eagle Theatre productions — “Godspell,” “John & Jen” and “Peter and the Starcatcher” — were nominated in different categories.
“Godspell” was nominated for outstanding overall production of a musical and outstanding music director, Jason Neri. “John & Jen” was nominated for outstanding direction of a musical by director Ted Wioncek III. “Peter and the Starcatcher” was nominated for outstanding lead actor in a musical, Tim Rinehart.
Wioncek is also the co-artistic director for the theater. He said the nominations are an honor to be recognized.
“It is an honor that, in several ways, means we have arrived,” Wioncek III said. “We are nominated alongside The Arden Theatre, The Wilma Theatre and several other established regional theaters.”
Wioneck said an immense amount of work went into the nominated productions.
For “John & Jen,” a show that is traditionally very minimalistic, sans props, costumes or set, the theater decided to create a realistic attic for the actors to crawl in and out of. It even had faux wall insulation on the set.
For the production of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” Eagle Theatre engineered onstage theme park-style seating for the audience.
“We didn’t wish to present Neverland, we wanted our audience to sail along the horizon with us,” Wioncek III said.
All this hard work was to create an immersive atmosphere for the audience, and it’s paid off.
“Every production we produce instills a conceptually designed immersive environment,” Wioncek III said.”I believe our eclectic season selection met with Eagle Theatre’s theatrical style has been a draw.”
Wioneck is proud of himself and his team and knows the type of company they are in with the nominations.
“There is so much talent in the tri-state area. It is just an honor to be part of such elite, top-tier artists. We were humbled and proud all at once,” he said.
The Barrymore Award Ceremony will take place Oct. 30 at the Merrian Theatre. Members of Eagle Theatre will be there for the award ceremony, but Wioncek III won’t make any predictions.
“I haven’t given it a second thought. Just the excitement — I will carry that a little bit longer,” he said.