Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Get bird’s-eye view at refurbished Eagles Theatre

New suites added to Wabash venue available to rent


Steve Penhollow

Whatzup Features Writer

Published February 9, 2022

In early 2020, Eagles Theatre in Wabash reopened after an $18 million refurbishment effort.

There were a lot of new bells and whistles, but almost before a single bell could ring or a single whistle could tweet, the theater had to close because of the pandemic.

Then Sammy Hagar, aka the Red Rocker, arrived and nailed one thesis to the theater door. This was 94 fewer theses than Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Wittenberg Church. But one was enough in this instance. It said, “Reopen or else!”

“Or else what?” some people asked. But Sammy didn’t say. Experts theorized that Hagar might punish us by dyeing his hair and changing his nickname to the Brunette With Blonde Highlights and Muted Auburn Rocker.

Most of what I have written here so far isn’t true. There were no theses. But a Hagar performance did solemnize (in a manner that was the opposite of solemn) the reopening of the theater Aug. 13 of last year.

I was at that show, and even though I am not the world’s biggest Hagar fan, I felt like I was at one of the notable rock concerts of this millennium.

That was the night one of the theater’s new features debuted: viewing suites.

The two viewing suites at the Eagles are similar to viewing suites at sports stadiums.

A family or group can rent one of these suites to watch a movie, a concert or a stage show in the utmost comfort.

One thing a family or group can’t watch from these particular suites is a sporting event. They may someday be able to watch “Tom Brady: The Musical,” however.

Colorful History

Eagles Theatre opened as a vaudeville house March 30, 1906.

Because I am a huge journalism nerd (not to mention a huge nerd in numerous other subjects, fields, phyla, and genera), one of my favorite websites is Newspapers.com, where one can view more than a hundred years of scanned in newspapers pages.

I was tickled (figuratively) by a story from the Huntington Daily-News Democrat of March 1908 titled “YOU CAN’T BLUFF HIM MANAGER HOLDEN STANDS PAT.”

The whole story consists of “Manager Holden” (his full name is never cited) ranting about how he won’t be forced out of his managerial position at the Eagles.

No mention in the story of who is forcing him out or why.

Small-town newspapering was the Wild West in those days, meaning that modern journalistic rules didn’t apply. Also, that cowboys sometimes challenged editors to duels at high noon.

If Manager Holden was indeed near the start of the line of Eagles Theatre stewards, then the Honeywell Foundation is currently at the end of it.

Impressive Food Spread

The Honeywell Foundation acquired the theater in 2010 and oversaw its refurbishment from 2017-2020.

The foundation was gracious enough to allow me the use of one of the suites for a performance by Satisfaction, a Rolling Stones tribute band that has toured internationally many years.

I invited a bunch of my friends, several of whom canceled at the last minute. But the people who did show up had a good time.

The suites were installed in what had been the theater’s second balcony (yes, there was a time in American history when a theater in a town of Wabash’s size required a second balcony).

The theater’s staff provided us with a catered spread that featured sandwiches for vegetarians and carnivores; spinach-and-artichoke dip with fresh, hot pita triangles; and a marinated vegetable plate.

Everything was as tasty as it could be, but let me take a moment to heap specialized praise on those marinated vegetables.

I don’t eat enough vegetables, although I am not a hater of vegetables. Where vegetarian entrees are concerned, I prefer dishes that try to evoke meat-based fare.

I know there is a school of vegetarian thought that says vegetarian entrees should come about as the result of a vegetarian chef trying as hard as he or she can not to evoke meat-based fare.

Anyway, these marinated vegetables did not evoke meat-based fare, yet they were as addictive to me as barbecue ribs or skillfully fried chicken.

Satisfying Concert

The concert was pretty great as well.

Satisfaction not only sounds like the Rolling Stones, they look like the Rolling Stones. Satisfaction’s drummer looks especially like the late Charlie Watts, who died in August of last year. It was a little unsettling to watch him, honestly.

The only one who didn’t look like his counterpart in the Rolling Stones was the bassist. The bassist looked like a cross between rock vocalist Steve Perry and British comedian Noel Fielding.

This was more amusing than unsettling, and it did not detract from the overall performance in the least.

My singer-songwriter friend Gregg Bender was so enormously impressed with the band’s musicianship that he insisted we go down to the main floor so he could take videos of the band.

This sort of thing was not allowed, and he almost got us thrown out.

This would have been a poor way to exit the show.

But it would’ve been a great way to exit this column.

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