Thunder Rolls at Thalian Hall

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Lily Nicole shows a cannonball used in the Thunder Roll. (Photo: Kelsie Anderson / WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Thalian Hall is filled with more than performances, it also has some of the richest history in Wilmington. Some of that history can fill the room with the sound of thunder.

Executive Director of Thalian Hall, Tony Rivenbark, demonstrated the historic Thunder Roll on Saturday to give visitors a sense of what it was like to see a play in the 19th century.

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The historic device can be found through a series of stairs and even a small tunnel above the 4th floor of Thalian Hall.

It is made up of two troughs and eight cannonballs.

Assistant technical director, Lily Nicole, shares what puts people in awe of the Thunder Roll.



“Being able to say, ‘Hey I can give you a real storm’ without making up the sound or having to sound clip,” Nicole said. “Giving you the element of when you’re sitting in the audience and you can hear the thunder over top and you hear the rain shatter, you’re like wait that’s above me, and it really is above you.”

The unique tool was built with Thalian Hall in 1858 and was most recently used in the performances of the play, ‘1776.’