The Sight & Sound Theatre is, to me, the most impressive theatre in Branson, and that’s saying a lot (though I haven’t seen them all). It’s a massive building, with stone everywhere. Absolutely gorgeous. Biblical scenes fill the foyer areas. The theater was huge, and it was packed for the Tuesday afternoon performance of “Noah: The Musical,” which had been playing there since 2008.
The theater’s name is based on Matthew 13:16, “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.” They state their purpose as to “present the Gospel of Jesus Christ and sow the Word of God into the lives of our customers, guests, and fellow workers by visualizing and dramatizing the scriptures.”
Pam and I had visited Branson five times over the past 11 years, but had never attended a production at Sight & Sound. Nor were we aware of their higher purpose. That, and the quality of “Noah,” were very pleasant surprises. The play was simply amazing! And since “Noah” concludes its run in Branson this year, I’m so very glad we saw it.
The first half of this 2.5 hour production begins with God speaking to Noah, telling him to build the ark. Noah then sets about doing it, over the next 120 years. Noah’s family is united in their mission. I usually think of the 3 brothers as scoundrels, thanks to their shenanigans after the Ark lands, but that’s not how they are portrayed here. It’s a good, God-fearing family living amidst a decadent society. Noah is a man totally sold out to God, without reserve.
The ark gradually rises, ending with a structure towering 40 feet above the stage.
The second half ends with the most delightful part–the animals coming two-by-two into the ark. I think there were around 60 live animals. Two goats would come running from the side of the stage and trot right up the ramp into the ark. Then two sheep, then someone leading two horses down the center aisle, then two dogs–on and on it went. Animals came down the aisles, and from the sides, and they knew exactly where to go–right up that ramp. It was the type of scene where you’re smiling with delight the whole time.
We didn’t get tickets until a few hours before the performance, and ended up sitting a ways back, in the upper section. But I’m glad we did, and would highly recommend that people sit in the upper section, or at least in the back of the lower section. Otherwise, you’ll miss the full affect.
Early in the second half, the full set was revealed, and my jaw dropped in wonder. The audience broke out in spontaneous applause. You just can’t believe what you’re seeing.
Then the special effects really kick in. When the rain pours down and thunder booms, you feel like it’s happening all around you. Swirling lights give the feeling of the ark actually rocking in the rising water.
Much of the music was rather average, and a lot of the dialogue was routine, if not sometimes boring. Yet, the overall production blew me away. I had goosebumps several times (like when God brought the promise of the rainbow). The play was unflinching in its evangelistic message, drawing to a fabulous climax pointing to the coming Savior. As if that’s not enough, a guy came out and gave a low-key altar call.
I was moved, I was astounded. This is the final year for “Noah: The Musical” in Branson. If you’re going this year, don’t miss it. A play based on Joseph (no, not the “Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” Joseph) opens next spring. Whatever is playing at Sight & Sound when Pam and I go back in a few years, we’ll see it.