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5 Things You Should Know about Sight & Sound’s MOSES

  • Michael Foust Christian Headlines Contributor
5 Things You Should Know about Sight & Sound’s <em>MOSES</em>

The best way to watch a Broadway-style musical with massive sets, elaborate costumes and special effects is – of course – in person. The next-best way? In front of a big screen in a theater.

That’s the idea behind Sight & Sound’s MOSES, which was filmed before a live studio audience but will appear on the big screen in movie theaters across the country three nights (Sept. 13, 15 and 20), giving moviegoers who have never been to a Sight & Sound show – or who want to watch it again -- a chance to experience the colossal nature of a live production.

More than 1.5 million people travel to Sight & Sound’s two locations each year in Lancaster, Pa., and Branson, Mo., to watch the Bible come to life.

Each wraparound stage is the width of a football field, and each production showcases a specific story from the Bible, complete with enough live animals to make the kids happy and enough special effects to leave mom and dad wondering: How’d they do that? More than 600 staff members are involved in a single production -- from writing it, to designing the sets and costumes, to acting in it.   

I’ve watched Sight & Sound shows in person and am impressed with the big-screen version of MOSES. It truly does capture one of the things that makes Sight & Sound shows so great: size.

Here are five things you should know about MOSES:

Photo Credit: Sight & Sound

1. It stays true to Scripture.

1. It stays true to Scripture.

Of course, any two-hour recounting of Moses’ life will take some liberties with the dialogue, but Sight & Sound’s MOSES does something most other films and plays do not: allow Aaron to speak for Moses. This follows the biblical account in which both Aaron and Moses appeared before Pharaoh. (The 1998 animated movie The Prince of Egypt – one of my favorite films – failed in this area.) The big screen story begins with Moses as a baby and ends with the giving of the Ten Commandments. “When you’re producing a two-and-a-half hour show, it is not going to be verbatim, but our heart is to bring forth the truth of Scripture and represent it in a way that's very honoring,” Katie Miller, corporate communications director for Sight & Sound, told Crosswalk. “The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. It's been around for thousands of years. We do not take credit for these stories, but we do get the opportunity to tell them in a really big and awesome way.”

Photo Credit: Sight & Sound

2. It’s inspiring.

2. It’s inspiring.

It also includes lessons for our modern-day, postmodern audience. When Pharaoh presses Moses to worship the Egyptian gods, Moses refuses and stands firm: “I can only serve one god: the God of the Hebrews.” Earlier, when Moses’ mother sets baby Moses in the river – sparking a protest from Moses’ older sister – the mom says, “We’re not giving him to the soldiers. We’re giving him to God.” We then watch the basket float down the river – down a watery-looking aisle in the musical – before Moses’ mother says, “God is watching over you.” With themes of trusting God, following God’s will and standing firm on His Word, the movie has positive messages for the entire family.

Photo Credit: Sight & Sound

3. It’s entertaining.

3. It’s entertaining.

There’s a reason that more than 1.5 million people attend a Sight & Sound production each year. Sure, they want to be inspired, but they also know they’ll see things that will leave them in awe. Like the parting of the Red Sea, which literally takes place around the audience. Or the turning of the staff into a snake, which left me scratching my head, wondering how it was done. Or the flying of an angel over (seemingly) everyone in the audience. Or the plagues, from the gnats to the flies to the hail. Then there’s the musical numbers, which are every bit as powerful as anything out of Broadway. 

Photo Credit: Sight & Sound

4. It’s family-friendly.

4. It’s family-friendly.

Many of the events in the real-life Exodus were quite gory, but MOSES – like every Sight & Sound show – stays kid-friendly. To underscore that point, we see horses, camels and sheep. We even see a rat. This is the second year in a row that Sight & Sound has brought a show to the big screen. Miller said the reaction following last year’s box office debut (Jonah) was positive. “We heard from people that said things like, ‘I grew up coming to Sight and Sound, and now I live in Washington and I can't take my kids to Pennsylvania every year. But now I get to share this experience with them.’ Or, people may have heard about us, but just can't quite get to one of the locations. Being able to have that opportunity for people is one of the most exciting things for us.”

Photo Credit: Sight & Sound

5. It’s Jesus-centric.

5. It’s Jesus-centric.

The story may be about Moses, but the musical includes a scarlet thread and is capped with a song about Christ and an actor portraying Jesus. This is because the founders, Glenn and Shirley Eshelman, wanted the musicals to be used to spread the gospel when the first theater was opened in the 1970s. Miller is their granddaughter. “We often joke that he [Glenn] started out as a farmer who went from producing milk to producing live entertainment. And it happened through the course of a series of tragedies where his family lost the family farm and he needed to make ends meet. And so he tapped into his creative abilities. … Eventually they found their niche in telling Bible stories, which has just grown tremendously over the last 42 years.”

Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.

Photo Credit: Sight & Sound





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