"My Time to Take This Major Bow"

Published by Chris Wangler- March 30, 2021.

Regional musical theater giant Bob Eagle will retire in June after 52 years at the helm of the Reagle Music Theatre in Waltham.
“Everything―and everyone―has a season,” Bob said in a release. “I recognize that it is now my time to take this major bow. But I know that Reagle will not only survive, but thrive for years to come.”
As Reagle’s founder and guiding light, the former Waltham High School teacher has had an incalculable impact on performing arts in Waltham and beyond.
Undated photo of Bob (right) during Reagle's early years. Photo: Reagle Music Theatre
 
“His vision and never-say-die attitude have been the driving force behind the success of the organization,” said Reagle board president Susan Conkey.
For the Waltham native, theatre was a passion from early childhood.
 
“I was a first grader at the Banks Elementary School when I saw a red curtain travel open and a performance begin,” he said. “From that moment on, I’ve wanted to be involved in theatre.”
In 1969, while an English and Drama educator at Waltham High School, he started to mount small-scale summer productions.
With limited resources, he transformed a theatre activity for local teens into an award-winning professional theatre company, offering “Broadway at Your Doorstep” at reduced ticket prices.
Over the years well-known names starred in revivals and sang (Shirley Jones, Lee Meriwether, Robert Goulet, Debbie Reynolds, Ann-Margret), but Reagle also staged ensemble productions for St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas that offered roles to hundreds of Waltham schoolchildren.
The Von Trapp children in this 2019 production of The Sound of Music were among thousands of Waltham kids who got their start on stage at Reagle. Photo: Herb Philpott
 
Many current Broadway personnel got their start at the non-profit regional theatre, both as performers and stage hands.
The community support was dedicated. Looking back, Bob thanked “loyal theatregoers of all ages who made hundreds of hours of rehearsals worth the time and labor that frequently concluded in standing ovations.”
 
The release said Bob excelled in particular at organizing large singing and dancing choruses and full live orchestras.
A Great Gatsby-themed Reagle fundraiser in 2016.
 
But such large groups have been forbidden under COVID, and Bob’s retirement comes at a difficult moment for performing arts organizations.
Reagle has been able to stage only virtual productions over the last year. Meanwhile, its creative fundraisers have been on hold.
Reagle’s board vowed to forge on, seeking a new director to carry on Bob’s remarkable legacy.
As his retirement approaches, there will be tributes and a grand party.
The Waltham Channel has covered many Reagle productions and we join the community in wishing Bob all the best with his upcoming curtain call.