In 2011, the organization celebrated 35 years of public productions, but Sight & Sound's roots go even deeper. Founder Glenn Eshelman, a native of Lancaster County, began to develop his gifting as an artist as a young child on his family's farm. His landscape painting led to a career in photography, taking Glenn and his wife Shirley across the country to capture inspirational scenic photos. Presentation of these photos began with a single slide projector and screen, along with a turntable and microphone to provide sound. By 1975, the Eshelmans had produced four multimedia shows and had traveled to churches, schools, and civic organizations across the U.S. showcasing these inspirational productions.
In July 1976, the Sight & Sound Auditorium (later renamed the Living Waters Theatre) opened its doors for the debut performance of A Land of Our Own. Live actors were eventually added to the productions, and Behold the Lamb debuted as the first full-length live stage production at the original Sight & Sound Auditorium in 1987.
As the productions grew in scale and the public's desire to attend outpaced seating capacity, it became clear that a larger theatre was needed. In March of 1991, the Sight & Sound Entertainment Centre opened within a mile of the Living Waters Theatre to present live, large-scale productions. The Living Waters Theatre featured a multimedia experience with special visual and audio effects and innovative fountains of water in a narrative context.
In 1997, a devastating fire destroyed the Entertainment Centre, along with the majority of equipment, the sets and half of the shop and storage buildings, but thankfully there were no injuries. With the encouragement of many, an all-new theatre opened September 1, 1998, with an even greater capacity to bring the Bible to life. Featuring more than 2,000 seats, a 300-foot stage that wraps around three sides of the audience, and the latest in sound, lighting and technical capabilities, the new facility opened the door to expanded and improved productions. Concurrently in 1997, the Living Waters Theatre was also renovated to bring live stage productions back to Sight & Sound's original venue.
In May 2008, Sight & Sound's brand new, state-of-the-art, 2,000-seat theatre opened its doors to the public in Branson, Mo., with Noah - the Musical.
2010 was the final season for live stage productions at Sight & Sound's Living Waters Theatre allowing the production teams to focus on the larger scale productions at the Branson and Lancaster County theatres.
Many inspiring productions have come to the Sight & Sound stages over the years, such as Colors of Praise, The Splendor of Easter, Joys of Christmas, The Eternal Flame, Miracle of Christmas, Noah - the Musical, Abraham & Sarah - A Journey of Love, Daniel and the Lions' Den, Behold the Lamb, Ruth, Psalms of David, Voices of Christmas, In the Beginning, Joseph, and Jonah.
A succession plan for the second generation was initiated in 2007, and in 2011, the Board of Directors voted to transition Josh Enck and Matt Neff to Co-President alongside their current roles of Chief Creative Officer and Chief Administrative Officer.
2013 is yet another thrilling year for the theatres. Joseph will play its final season in Branson, and anticipation is building in Lancaster County, where Noah returns after nearly a decade. It will run for one season only and is already generating enthusiasm among customers who have anxiously waited for its return.
Sight & Sound Theatres continues to be committed to bringing the Bible to life with quality and excellence, seeking always to honor God and encourage the faith of our guests.