VPR News
6:05 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Paramount Theatre Reaches Out To Sports Fans, Opera Buffs

For many local theaters, one of the biggest challenges is attracting new audiences.  

At Rutland’s Paramount Theatre, officials believe a new $75,000 high definition video and audio system will be key to expanding their outreach.  

Bruce Bouchard, Director of the Paramount Theatre says their new 10,000 lumen projector is three times more powerful than their old one. “What that means is blacks look really black, navy blue looks like navy blue and dark green is dark green. You see every blade of grass.  It’s so cool.”

Bouchard says the crisp new video, coupled with a completely redesigned sound system and all the necessary rooftop satellite dishes, will allow the Paramount to stream all sorts of HD programming - including live opera from the Met.

The Paramount is now one of five theaters in Vermont that will be broadcasting the Met’s Live in HD series. 

But Bouchard says opera is just the tip of the iceberg. “This is the wave of the future - the HD content that’s coming on line is monthly,” he says excitedly. “You can take museum tours, do TED talks. We’re going to add in Live from the 92nd street Y - a speaker’s series - since we can’t afford one on the main stage. We can show New York Times Talks. There’s just all this content that’s coming on line.” Bouchard says, I predict that Broadway Theater is 5 minutes behind.  They’ll be coming on line as well.”

Bouchard believes having so many choices, will help broaden their audience. He cites next Saturday as a perfect example.  “We show Tchaikovski’s Eugene Onigen at 12:55pm for 3 hours and 40 minutes. The audience exists the theater and 90 minutes later the baseball audience enters the theater for the 2nd game of the of the American League Division Series.” Bouchard smiles, “How cool is that?”

While Bouchard says the Paramount will charge $20 a ticket to see the Met’s opera performances, HD sporting events will be free. 

He says the theater will hopefully make enough from bar and concession sales to cover expenses.

If fans come out for baseball, the theater plans to show football and hockey games and next year’s World Cup.

“I think HD Technology is a miracle,” says Gail Nunziata, Director of Latchis Arts in Brattleboro. The Latchis theater also uses HD technology to show opera and performances from the National Theater in London.  

Nunziata says that while the equipment is expensive she too believes it has huge potential. “It’s just a great opportunity for the theaters to bring in new populations to the theater - to have different cross cultural kinds of things happening in their theaters that they wouldn’t necessarily have the ability to do.”

Officials with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters in Washington DC, say the use of HD technology is growing nationwide and has been for several years.  

Mario Garcia Durham, the Association’s President says he doesn’t believe it’s a threat to live performance.  He says if HD technology can allow a theater to offer more programming to a broader array of people at an affordable price - what’s not to like?