Archive for June, 2019

Theatrical magic in Lancaster

June 3, 2019

EastPAEG_51

You don’t have to be a reader of the Bible to appreciate the epic Christian musicals staged each year by Sight & Sound Theaters. Technology nerds and theater lovers alike are amazed by the extravagant shows, which use actors, live animals, music and spectacular special effects to bring Bible stories to life.

Just 8 miles southeast of Lancaster in the small farming village of Ronks, Sight & Sound draws nearly 1 million visitors to Lancaster County each year (there’s a second nearly identical property, in Branson, Mo., but this is the original). Tickets range from $59 to $79 for adults and $26 to $36 for children ages 3 to 12. The average Sight & Sound show runs two to three times a day, Tuesday through Saturday, for 12 months, to mostly sold-out audiences.

EastPAEG_50

Visitors take their seats in a cavernous auditorium, with more than 1,200 seats on the floor and about 800 in the balcony. The show takes place before them—this is the theater lovers’ part—on a 300-foot stage that wraps around the left and right sides of the auditorium. The enormous cast (each role has three players) is elaborately costumed and includes not only adults and children, but also a full complement of animals that are cared for on site. The action often spills into the aisles and cascades down from the ceiling.

The intricate sets tower some 40 feet above the stage and—here’s the techy part—are backed by a 110-foot-wide, 30-foot-tall LED screen that seamlessly continues the landscape beyond the physical set. The screen is the largest of its kind in the world and comprises 1,200 smaller screens with 22 million pixels in each individual screen. While the movement of some set pieces is executed by hand, others, like boats that move across the stage, are coordinated by GPS.

Hershey Inn and Farm is the closest hotel to the theater and is popular with traveling groups in town for the show. For a post-theater sweet treat, try the Strasburg Country Store and Creamery or the Speckled Hen Café.

[Text and photos by Ayleen Gontz]