Rarely am I mesmerized or speechless. However, the production of Noah-the Musical at the Sight & Sound Theatre in Branson, Missouri left me on overwhelm for several days. Noah is the first production in the state-of-the-art 2000-seat theatre that opened its doors May of 2008. From the moment a person sets foot in the lobby they are transported back 2000 years. One is immediately captivated as the curtain opens and exposes the 300-foot stage that wraps around three sides of the audience. The 40-foot high sets, elaborate costumes, special affects, and approximately 175 live and animatronic animals, are breathtaking!
The entire production draws you in as if you are reliving the time of Noah, experiencing his tests, trials, and the flood of destruction. The excitement and energy of the moment are heightened when the
animals start running into the Ark trying to beat the oncoming rain and lightning storm. Regardless of age, it was like seeing through the eyes of a child when the ark’s interior was revealed. The set enveloped the audience, giving the feeling of actually being in the Ark. The poignant finale was awe inspiring – leaving me on a heavenly high. On my way back down to earth I remember saying, “This is bigger than Broadway.”
The script was written by the Sight & Sound producing group (no egos here – no names). Since 1995, over 2,400,000 have seen Noah – the Musical. The main stage offers 22,550 square feet of acting area plus 2,000 square feet of right and left stages, making the total stage area one of the largest stages in the world. The 1,650 lighting instruments & 58 moving lights is equal to two million watts of light that illuminate the theatre, enough to power 300 homes. The designing of the lights took two years with an additional 3 months to program. The largest set piece weighs approximately 17,000 pounds, and the production includes 375 costumes cut from 38,000 yards of fabric.
This is not your average theatre production, it’s an experience! (The only other production that I know of that is worthy of that statement is “Phantom of the Opera.”)
The man behind this artistic wonderment is Glenn Eshelman, founder of Sight & Sound Theatres. His gift surfaced as a young child painting landscapes on his Pennsylvania family farm, and taking in every word of his Daddy’s great Biblical storytelling. His art eventually led him into his career of photography. Receiving request to share his scenic photographs, Glenn and his wife Shirley searched for a unique means to present them. They produced their first multimedia slide show using a single slide projector and screen, along with a turntable and microphone to provide sound.
. Their overwhelming success of the “Wonder of It All” in the summer of 1975 provided enough seed money to purchase three acres of land in Strasburg, Pennsylvania – where the original Sight & Sound Auditorium was born. Live actors were eventually added to the productions. They now operate two theatres in PA., The Living Waters Theatre and the 2,000 seat state-of-the-art Millinnium Theatre.
After sixteen successful productions on the East Coast, Branson, Missouri welcomed the glorious Sight & Sound Theatre to the Ozarks. Tour bus companies from around the country quickly discovered the Branson destination. Not surprising is the recent interest from other nations in the development of Sight & Sound theatres and productions.
A trip to your nearest Sight & Sound theatre (sight-sound.com) is the perfect remedy for the trying times we live in – medicine for the soul. Every man, woman, and child will leave with a lighter heart.
April Shenandoah (Ambassador of Prayer) is the author of “So… Help Me God” (an inspired work addressed to President Clinton and all who cherish freedom). Since 1988, after serving as the CA press contact for Robertson’s political campaign, Shenandoah was led to research and gather information on the “changing world” we live in. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.