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Charles Hayden Planetarium stages virtual music series

Ben Wharram
Connector Contributor

On any given night, the Charles Hayden Planetarium at Boston’s Museum of Science is likely playing host to a space exploration through the Milky Way or a story of constellations and how the world came to be. But on Friday, Nov. 2, the unique theater will set the stage for two thrilling virtual music adventure experiences, playing back to back starting at 7:30 p.m.

Leading off the highly anticipated event is The Radiohead Experience followed by The Rihanna Experience at 8:30 p.m. Rarely an opportunity is made available to experience a mainstream artist’s hit music while enveloped in a professional animation and light show. However, since 2016 the planetarium has been featuring these weekend music shows in their schedule, and as a result there is a high demand for the shows of big name artists when they are added into the rotation.

This past summer, the planetarium experimented with several music show endeavors and plans to add a few of these shows to their regular selection in the coming weeks. “We tested [the shows] in the summer and we’ve had them on catalog,” said Jason Fletcher, an associate producer at the planetarium. “But every show is a little different. Even those who might have seen the show of an artist before would notice some changes.”

Fletcher says this is because each show is like a performance, with new clips being added regularly and a team of professional animators queuing lights and images according to the set-list.

Staff members say there has been plenty of excitement circulating around the museum for some time now, and for good reason. “We are gearing up for a whole bunch of really great events happening throughout the [fall],” said Carrie Nash, manager of media and public relations. “The music shows are a perfect example of the innovative thinking that is behind the museum’s approach.”

While the masterminds behind the planetarium magic are somewhat limited to what music they can choose from, most of the graphics are made in-house by a team of skilled animators, according to Fletcher. These graphics are made in coordination with the set-list being played through the planetarium’s powerful acoustic layout. “It’s a lot of intensity for the music shows,” Fletcher said.

From the consumer’s standpoint, the museum offers not only a variety of modern science exhibits, but also a source of wholesome entertainment for a wide range of audiences. “I think they’ve done a great job keeping new shows running all the time,” said Samantha Robitaille, a cashier at the museum gift shop.

She said tickets are selling quickly. “I saw the Beyoncé [show] when it first came out and I like can’t wait to see [the Rihanna Experience],” said Robitaille.

Along with their dedication to hosting a variety of fun and entertainment, the Museum of Science is also offering a student-friendly admission fee to the planetarium at just $10 per show. “It shows our commitment to keeping young minds interested in science,” Nash said.

Fletcher said that the museum focuses on youth involvement in the science community. “We definitely  pay close attention to the interests of  the college and young adult age groups,” said Fletcher. “So we hope there’s something for everyone to enjoy.”

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