|What began over 25
years ago as a simple slide show set to music generated from an old
turntable has since grown into one of the largest tourist attractions in
Sight & Sound Theatres, located just
outside the town of Strasburg, welcomed over 900,000 visitors in 2002. This
impressive figure is largely attributed to the premiere last year of their
newest epic, DANIEL - A DREAM, A DEN, A DELIVERER. Glenn Eshelman, Sight &
Sound's co-owner and producer, never dreamed the vision he had so long ago
would result in a production of this magnitude.
Born and raised in
Lancaster County, Glenn developed his artistic gifts by sketching and
eventually taking up the brush and painting landscapes. He became interested
in photography when he wanted to accurately depict scenes he was asked to
Glenn and his wife
Shirley began producing multimedia shows and in 1975 rented the auditorium
at Lancaster Bible College for ten weeks, presenting their "Wonder of It
All" show to about 30,000 people. They then purchased three acres of land
along Route 896 in Strasburg, and by July 1976, their Sight & Sound
Auditorium opened with a combination slide, film, and "living water"
fountain spectacular. Live actors were eventually added in 1987 and BEHOLD
THE LAMB became their first full-length live stage production. With growing
popularity and crowds, it was time for a larger facility to be built nearby.
The new theater opened in March, 1991.
As the productions
grew, the shows became a true family affair. The Eshelman's four daughters
and other family members became part of the shows. With Shirley's
administrative skills and Glenn's creative gifts, the idea evolved for an
unprecedented Biblical stage production. After a visit with daughter Amy to
the Pennsylvania Farm Show, Glenn conceived the basic outline of what would
"I got my pencil
and paper out and started to draw. Within a couple hours, I drew and laid
out the entire show in thumbnail sketches. It all happened so fast, I could
hardly write fast enough," Glenn recalled.
acclaim and over 700,000 visitors between 1995-1996, tragedy struck when a
fire destroyed the theatre in January, 1997. After much prayer and
consideration by the Sight & Sound staff, the decision was made to continue
the vision and construct a new, larger facility. The 2,000-seat Millennium
Theatre opened in 1998 with a new NOAH, updated with additional music and
even more spectacular sets. The 300-foot wrap-around stage, amazing
three-story high interior ark filled with seemingly hundreds of real and
animatronic animals, produced awe and applause at every show. After such a
monumental production, the question became "What story will be next?"
Glenn started to
consider a production based on the life of Daniel while NOAH was still in
development. Miraculously, during the fire, the clay model and sketches of
the lion's den had escaped the "fiery furnace" when the theatre was
destroyed. After five years in production, the show is larger than any
previous Sight & Sound undertaking. It requires a cast and technical crew of
80 people from 17 states, over 1,000 costumes, 13 on-location film shoots,
35 live animals, and 33 amazingly lifelike animatronic "cats." The stage
becomes a magnificent setting for life-sized palaces, a 40-foot statue of
gold, a fiery furnace, a den of lions and even helicopters that fly in for
the battle of Armageddon.
By the end of its
first season, over 640,000 people had already experienced DANIEL. Visitors
to Lancaster should not miss the opportunity to take the entire family to
see this spectacular production. It plays through October 25, 2003, after
which the annual Christmas production returns to the stage. In the smaller
Living Waters Theatre, visitors can also experience the memorable ABRAHAM &
SARAH: A JOURNEY OF LOVE.
With the huge
stage, and more technology and special effects than several Broadway shows
combined, Sight & Sound shows unite great entertainment with inspirational
storytelling. And Glenn is always thinking about the next show, although
NOAH will be coming back for an encore presentation next year. "Will we ever
run out of stories? No. I'm going to continue to take the word of God and
take those stories and bring them alive. I want to remain sharp and on the
cutting edge, hearing from the Lord how He wants us to do the next one."
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