Among America’s Best, but Least Known, Theaters: Sight and Sound

Ranked as the top faith-based live theaters in America, Sight and Sound Theatres are in two locations: Strasburg, Pennsylvania, and Branson, Missouri. With combined annual sales of over 1.3 million tickets, these entertainment jewels are still unknown to most Americans. My wife, Linda, and I have experienced every production in Branson. We highly recommend both theaters. Here is a bit more about them and their rather short but amazing history.

Glenn Eshelman (below left) grew up on a farm in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Infatuated with the beauty of creation, he began painting landscapes as a boy. This passion expanded to photography in his teen years. After marrying Shirley (right), he sold his artwork out of the trunk of his car. In 1964, he began presenting his narrated photography slide show in churches across the country. Although responses were overwhelmingly positive, the travel became a burden. The couple set up Living Waters Theatre in 1976 in Strasburg, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for the nightly presentation of their slide show. In 1987, they transitioned to live stage production of Bible stories and opened The Entertainment Centre in 1991. These shows received rave reviews until 1997 when their theater burned to the ground. Devastated, they prayed for guidance, and God led them to rebuild, this time a 2,000 seat, state-of-the-art theater with a 300-foot wrap-around stage four stories high. By the early 2000’s, sell-out crowds convinced the Eshelmans to expand to a second location. Hot Springs, Arkansas, was among the few cities considered. Branson, Missouri was chosen.

In 2008, Branson’s new Sight and Sound Theatre opened with the initial production of Noah. Multiple levels of live and mechanical animals encircled the audience. Live animals on the main stage, very talented performers, and phenomenal stage settings made this a “must see” performance. Since then, Branson has hosted two-year stints of Joseph, Jonah, Moses, and Samson. Samson continues its second year this March. The Strasburg theater has produced these same shows plus Daniel, Ruth, Jesus, and is beginning this year with Esther. Between productions, the biennial performance of The Miracle of Christmas is presented in November and December at both theaters. I’m amazed that almost every matinee and evening show enjoys a sell-out audience for the nearly two year run. All productions use impressive special effects, live animals, and quick-change stage sets that will blow you away. The Bible stories are embellished with fictional portrayals, but the spiritual inspiration is always present. The gospel is communicated very effectively. I believe it’s as entertaining as anything you will see on Broadway.

The Eshelmans have recently passed the baton to their two sons-in-law. Matt Neff (below right) is now CEO, and Josh Enck (below left) is now president. These new leaders complement each other perfectly with Matt being more administrative and Josh being more creative. They have wasted no time in improving the company by adding personnel to ensure shorter production cycles and greater technology in special effects and sets. They both are passionate about maintaining the priority of glorifying God through their mission of bringing Bible stories to life on stage.

I encourage everyone to make a commitment to never miss a Sight and Sound production. It is a destination attraction well worth the trip. Tickets are around $50 each, and some hotels offer package deals on accommodations and tickets. Click here to learn more about show times and tickets. You’ll thank me later.

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