Sight and Sound Theatre
I was very excited to attend another Sight and Sound Theatre production in Branson, MO this past week. Last summer I saw Moses there. This summer they are performing Samson.
Sight and Sound have a HUGE stage and a HUGE amount of space backstage. You understand why everything is so big when you see the sets that they have. Multiple giant remote controlled pieces are skillfully used to create a show’s location. The sets continue up the sides of the audience, so those watching feel as if they are in on the action. Many people like to sit near the back so they can see the panoramic view. I prefer to sit in the 4th row right on the center aisle to really feel like I’m in the middle of the action.
For Samson, the sets not only evoked the ambiance of the location, but they did some crazy special effects, also. A tall plume of water sprang up from one set piece at the end of the first act and ran through intermission. The Gaza Gate was taken out of its place and carried through the audience and back - my husband narrowly missed getting impaled on one of its spikes. Lol. And I will never forget the pagan temple crashing down all around - and almost on top of - us. Projections were used in combination with the set pieces to bring even more realism to the show. While the water fountained during intermission, plants and flowers “grew” onstage through the miracle of multiple video projectors.
Costuming and wigs were equally as impressive as the sets were, as much for the sheer quantity of them, as for their attention to detail. Each actor other than the leads played multiple parts. I tried to count how many actors there were onstage in the large group scenes, but lost track because everyone was moving. Suffice it to say that there are a LOT of people on that stage, and that each of them play at least 3 character, or maybe more. Since each costume is made up of several pieces, we are looking at hundreds of costume items that have to be tracked, laundered, mended, and hung up each day. There are almost as many wigs as there are costumes, since each different character has a different wig. These are not the cheap wigs you can buy online. They are all lace front, which look more realistic and are fairly costly.
On top of the incredible production values, the script and music and choreography are also spectacular. To make the story of Samson long enough for an almost 3 hour musical, there are some characters and events that are added to bring a fuller picture of Samson’s character to life. All characters and events stay well within the Biblical parameters of the story, and they make you think. Because of the insights I gained through watching the show, I decided that I needed to go back and reread the verses about Sampson and hear what God is saying through the story. One of the major themes that touched my heart was about prodigals and those who love them. I had never really thought of Sampson as a prodigal before, but he did choose his own way over God’s Way many times, until, at the end of his life, he repented and asked God to work through him one more time, resulting in the destruction of the pagan temple.
There are two locations for the theater - one in Branson, Missouri, and the other in Pennsylvania. Be sure to go on the backstage tour, in addition to seeing the show. The storage system for their set pieces is amazing! The Pennsylvania theater also has a conservatory. Students study acting, singing, dancing, stage combat, working with animals onstage, and more, along with being in the professional theatre’s performances. It’s a great opportunity to build your resume as you’re learning.
If you have an opportunity to attend a Sight and Sound Theatre production - GO! You won’t regret it!