Technology Plays Starring Role in Rock Opera

New technology will help Vermont's largest community theater group present a splashy production.

The Lyric Theatre Company opens its version of the iconic 1969 rock opera "The Who's Tommy" Thursday evening.

Lyric spent Friday afternoon setting up the stage at the Flynn Center for the Performing arts in downtown Burlington, in advance of final rehearsals this weekend and early next week.

For the production, Lyric will use massive LED panels onstage to create the look and feel of a major rock concert.

"It's very exciting," beamed set designer Tom Dunn, as he oversaw the installation and testing of the panels.

The panels came from Atomic Pro Audio in Rutland, and are computer programmed to show images and animations that advance the storytelling in the show.

The set designer said he hopes the high-tech touches add energy for audiences.

For the non-profit's many volunteers, both onstage and behind-the-scenes, Dunn said new challenges and different approaches to theater are vital to keep things fresh.

"There's a temptation in an organization like Lyric to just do the old big shows; do 'My Fair Lady' and that type of thing," Dunn said. "But reaching out and stretching ourselves is really important, and this is definitely a stretch show. It's a whole different type of musical than a lot of the typical shows we do. So that's a very exciting part of being able to work on this show."

"The Who's Tommy" opens Nov. 10 at the Flynn Center and runs for five performances.

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