'Sight & Sound Theatres' Bring Bible Stories to Life

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It's been called one of the top theatre destinations on the East Coast, but you won't find it anywhere near Broadway.

Sight & Sound Theatres is located near Lancaster, Penn., and now has a theater in Branson, Mo. The company puts on a unique show relevant to today's audiences, and with a Christian message that stands the test of time.

With massive sets, hundreds of cast and crew members, and animals everywhere, productions at Sight & Sound Theatres are on an epic scale.

"Noah The Musical" is considered the company's signature production. There's a 300-foot wrap around set depicting the inside of the ark, and the outside of the ark stands more than 40 feet tall.

Altogether from script development to design to set creation, it takes about three years to produce a show the size of "Noah The Musical."

"We believe wholeheartedly if you're going to do something for God, you need to bring your A-game," Dan Lehning, the production stage manager, told CBN News. "You got to do your best -- do it with excellence."

God's Work

To bring the story of Noah to life, Sight & Sound uses more than 200 robotic animals and 75 live animals. In addition, some of the animals are "self-guided."

"It's very, very physically strenuous at first, but you get used to it after a while," said cast member Jeremy Jenkins, who maneuvers on stage in a life-like gorilla costume.

Cast members also fit inside the tortoises, walking them slowly across the stage.

"I just want people to see the Lord," said actor John Sneed, who plays the part of Noah. "I want people to see the love of God and the mercy of God, and just that personal father-son relationship that he has not only with his sons, but also with his Heavenly Father.

"It's incredible," added actress Julie Morimoto, who plays the part of Cayla, Japheth's wife, in "Noah The Musical." "Every day I thank the Lord that I'm here."

God's Promise

Morimoto, who also plays the part of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in Sight & Sound's "Miracle of Christmas," is grateful to be away from mainstream theatre where she says she was asked to compromise her morals and refused.

"Just to be able to do good, quality work with good scripts that are so deep... and so much fun, but at the same time, we're glorifying God," she explained. "There is eternal value. There is a purpose. It is a ministry. We don't have a curtain call because we want God to be glorified."

The high standards are attracting people from all over the world. Since 1995, some 2.5 million people have seen "Noah The Musical" at Sight & Sound Theatres.

Whether it's "Noah The Musical," or other shows like "Miracle of Christmas" and "Joseph," chief creative officer Josh Enck says the goal is to present the Bible in a way that's relative to today's audiences.

"We're known for our mission statement, and that's to present the gospel of Jesus Christ through the medium of live theatre and to make these Bible stories come to life," Enck said.

"We tie everything into what we believe is the gospel message behind it," Lehning explained. "For Noah, it's about the ark of safety. It's about finding your salvation in Christ. He is the Ark of Safety."

God's Reward

And audiences are responding positively.

"I really liked it and I'd like to come again," Ellie Silva said after seeing "Noah The Musical." "And I'd like to bring more friends."

"I think the part that I jumped out of my seat was when the door shut, and I felt tears come to my eyes because I realized that there will be people someday when the door shuts to eternity who'll be clamoring to get in and can't. It's going to be too late," said audience member Monnie Shirley.

After the show, cast members volunteer to share the love of Jesus with audience members.

"To lead people to Christ, by far, is the most rewarding part of this job," Morimoto said. "I mean that's what it's all about."

"We have had the opportunity to see people come to Christ in our theatre -- break down and just weep, seeking forgiveness," Enck continued. "But that's just a small dose of what's really happening out in the parking lot or on the bus ride home or around the dinner table."

Related Link:

Sight & Sound Theatres

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Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.