The 2006 film adaption of "Dreamgirls," starring Beyonce Knowles, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson, resurrected public interest in the original Broadway show from 25 years earlier. So it's only fitting that the latest national tour of the musical has a distinctly cinematic feel, because of the extensive use of video projection.

Media designer Howard Werner, who also worked on Broadway's infamous hit "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," explains that in addition to using digital imagery to re-create the world of the Supremes-inspired girl group called the Dreamettes, the production also uses live camera work -- during a news conference, a fashion shoot and the like -- to emphasize the role of the mass media as a star-making machine, even in the pre-"American Idol" era of the 1960s.

"My job was to define both what that meant from a creative, storytelling perspective, and what technology would be used to forward that concept," said Werner, whose multimedia design credits also include the Las Vegas show "EFX," starring Broadway's original Phantom of the Opera, Michael Crawford.

The current touring production got its start four years ago in South Korea, and it will visit the Mesa Arts Center and the Orpheum Theatre this week as part of presenter Theater League's Broadway season. The videocentric design is part of a growing trend, thanks the advances in digital technology.

"Many years ago, I worked with more analog forms of projection," Werner says. "Film projection and still slide projection was the medium we used 10 or 15 years ago, but now everything has become very digital."

The set design uses a series of shifting panels that can double as walls and projection screens.

"Before we mounted the Korean production of the tour, we created a digital model of the set and spent the entire summer in a computer environment creating the set design, essentially, for each moment in the play. We had to go through the play moment by moment and figure out how the panels were going to be arranged and what was going to be on the panels.

"This is completely in my studio in New York. Then we took the same computer, plugged it into the actual set and essentially could have done a show that day based on the work that we had done for the previous three months."

The ability to "pre-visualize" the production design has been revolutionary, Werner says.

"The other thing that has helped very recently is the availability of so many different image libraries, Google Images and all the stock photography houses, where you can at a moment's notice search for record labels or radio call signs," he adds. "You don't have go to any library, it's right there in your laptop."