Playing techno theatrics off her smooth voice and don't-do-me-wrong lyrics, Reba McEntire wowed another sold-out Salt Lake crowd Tuesday.

She showcased her trademark high glamour and energetic stage presence with an elaborate set, including a mini-stage that swung out mere inches over the floor audience, carrying McEntire and duet partner Linda Davis.Preceded by two hard-core country acts - newcomer Rhett Akins and chart-topping Texan Tracy Byrd - McEntire pushed the envelope of country music Tuesday, incorporating the makings of a full-scale theater production into new music that already shows hints of crossover potential.

It's Reba's 20th year in the music business. And to observe the anniversary, country's first lady has stepped away from the traditionally twangy roots of honky tonk and country-western to produce a more contemporary sound - ironically by remaking some of the century's classics.

On Tuesday, she crooned a rendition of "Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands," clad in what would be the seventh of more than 10 costume changes.

Before that, she sang from her more than 20 albums, accompanied by either video productions on dual screens flanking the stage, or performed with a full dance troupe. There were old favorites: "Whoever's in New England" and "You Lied;" and some newer tunes, "Is There Life Out There?"

Vince Gill joined Reba via the video screen for a moving tribute to his fellow "Okie" and a duet of their ballad, "Heart Won't Lie."

Next, singing "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter," McEntire tied on an apron and served up drinks to a full cast of characters as a cafe waitress.

A video of the making of the national AIDS quilt prefaced a striking performance of McEntire singing "She Thinks His Name Was John."

The simple lyrics of the ballad, about a woman suffering from AIDS, were controversial when the song first hit the charts. But as the last notes faded Tuesday and as a reproduction of the AIDS quilt lowered from the ceiling, there wasn't a dry eye in the house - or a Stetson that wasn't waving. A more than four-minute ovation accompanied the powerful ballad.

In her two decades of pounding the hardwoods of country music clubs and dance halls - and now to some of the nation's great stages - McEntire doesn't appear to have lost her roots, entrenched firmly in the ranching culture of southeast Oklahoma. And in her climb to the top, she's taken time to cultivate careers for some of country's hottest new acts.

For Tracy Byrd, touring with Reba McEntire translates into a given of sold-out shows and an enthusiastic crowd. He played that card to its maximum Tuesday, with a string of smooth ballads and raucous western swing tunes. His No. 1 single "Keeper of the Stars" went over well with the Salt Lake audience, as did "Lifestyles of the Not-So-Rich and Famous" and "Watermelon Crawl." But above all, "Heaven in My Woman's Eyes," the next single off Byrd's "Love Lessons" album, showed off the east Texan's talent as a balladeer.

The song, with its traveling, border-style guitar and Marty Robbins sound, is a sure hit.

During Tuesday's opener, the black-hatted Akins sang about his truck and love lost - all country standards. His clear, effortless voice, however, gave each song a new twist. With Reba on his side and a bill like McEntire and Byrd, his slot translates into the chance of a lifetime.