Vermont Arts Council

Paramount Theatre: Miracle Technology and Magic in Rutland

Bruce Bouchard is Executive Director of The Paramount Theatre in Rutland, Vermont. This is his fun story about bringing LIVE IN HD to town.

In 2012 The Vermont Arts Council awarded The Paramount Theatre a Cultural Facilities grant in the amount of $30,000 to assist in the acquisition of multi-faceted Expanded Exhibition Technology. This technology was needed to bring a world-class experience to the newly conceived addition of LIVE IN HD from the METROPOLITAN OPERA to the programming of the theatre.  A visionary gift from the City of Rutland matched the grant and plans were quickly underway to manage the installation of the complex and thrilling new system.

On a hot, late summer day in 2013 when all elements of the exhibition package were in place, we were ready to run a test:  transmission dishes on the roof awaited their first signal, a wired up and fully outfitted projection booth was humming in anticipation, a 10,000 lumens projector was about to strut its HD Stuff, surround sound was ready to envelop, and brand new acoustical skirting on our huge 30 X 24’ screen was handsome new clothing indeed – a perfect visual touch to this grand new addition to the proceedings.

After a few tense moments of holding our collective breath, a feed from Germany came onto the screen…it was a Euro Union soccer game in progress.

It was a transformative moment…

The deep green of the pitch, the shots of the zealous fans, the magical distribution of the ball, the colorful uniforms and the stunning surround sound were all before us and around and in us us via the largest razor sharp image you could ever imagine.

This single moment drove a stunning EPIPHANY…

Paramount World Cup _web”The Red Sox are going to be in the post season and we should expand use of this technology to show their entire run, free of charge in an altogether new and transformative spin on civic engagement.”  To date, this amazing technology expansion has broadcast 17 baseball games – yes the entire run of the Red Sox through to their improbable 2013 Series win – 9 NFL Football games, 5 Olympic events and 8 World Cup Soccer matches…FREE OF CHARGE TO ONE AND ALL.  We have seen 4,900 residents through the doors, many of them underserved constituents and we have experienced a brand of civic engagement that we could never have imagined…the agony and the ecstasy of SPORTS LIVE in HD; truly a community bonded in shared passions made possible by the existence of this remarkable new initiative.  The new SPORTS LIVE in HD series has galvanized the community.

I have been a working arts professional for 44 years.  I have also, since the age of 8 been a rabid sports fan.  I have lived an arts life and a fan life, leaping out of seats, yelling in exaltation at thrilling outcomes:  walk off home runs, 99-yard kickoff returns , buzzer beaters for a win by one, or an improbable underdog carrying the day, the moment, the series or the trophy.  I guess what I never ever expected is that on a late leg of this lifelong arts journey I and the staff with whom I collaborate daily would be honored to offer a thrilling and diverse season of professional performing arts across 7 performance genres AND the best of high stakes professional SPORTS…to a wide and heterogeneous audience – free of charge;  A new kind of civic engagement indeed – we finally have tied the knot around a long desired goal…that one day the theatre would be for everyone in spite of any given circumstance.

The Opera Season was a big success, drawing raves for the image, the sound and the sheer size of the event.  New audiences came to The Paramount.  This coming season we will add LIVE IN HD from the NATIONAL THEATRE and a speaker series:  LIVE IN HD from the 92nd ST “Y”…and of course, 40-50 sporting events.

I would like to close by sharing what was perhaps my favorite theatre moment ever – in a long and amazing career.  Our opening Opera in the LIVE in HD from the MET Series was EUGENE ONEGIN (Tchaikovsky) at 1:00 pm on October 5, 2013.  At 5:00 PM we had the Red Sox in a Divisional playoff game.  At the conclusion of the opera the older, somewhat more reserved and well-dressed audience (after all, they were going to THE MET) exited from the theatre as 200 baseball fans from Red Sox Nation entered past them into the theatre in full Red Sox Swag regalia.  Two audiences, two demographics, two style statements, and two sets of happy campers, one savoring and one in avid anticipation.

Finally, I will be forever profoundly grateful to the Vermont Arts Council for this visionary support.  It has been a huge victory for The Paramount and this grateful surrounding community and It is YOUR VICTORY TOO.  Arise, shine, for thy light has come…