In 1997, the Sight & Sound Theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, went up in flames, burning down the entire entertainment center and just about everything in it. It was out of that adversity the faith-based theater ultimately flourished and became what it is today: a hallmark of the northeast known for turning biblical stories into state-of-the-art productions.
“My grandfather often says, ‘It was what God used — what started as a tragedy is the thing that God used to take us from that to this,’” Katie Miller, the corporate communications director for Sight & Sound Theatres and the founders’ oldest grandchild, told Faithwire, noting God worked through “something that looked very broken and devastating.”
Sight & Sound Theatres, which now boasts a second location in Branson, Missouri, was faced with yet another challenge when, at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, it was forced to close its doors to live audiences.
“It has felt like a broken and devastating year,” Miller said. “And yet, we are just experiencing this outpouring of support from guests.”
In less than two weeks, on Sept. 4, the theater company will do something it has never done before: debut a live show, “Queen Esther,” via its streaming platform, Sight & Sound TV — an option to which Miller was initially opposed, concerned it was just too big a task for the ministry to accomplish.
But as the pandemic and its associated restrictions have lingered, Sight & Sound Theatres has, like all of us, been forced to adapt.
Though it took a little convincing, the team at the Lancaster-based theater ultimately knew God was leading them to rework their productions to make them more accessible to people in the middle of a pandemic. Sight & Sound Theatres has been adapting shows for theatrical releases for years, but retooling everything for TV and streaming services was a new undertaking.
Miller said it was an Easter project that God used to push the faith-based company in a new direction.
In the lead up to Easter weekend, Sight & Sound Theatres had prepared a pre-taped show, “Jesus,” to premiere in movie theaters around the country. But those plans were scrubbed when theaters, too, closed amid the pandemic.
“We called our friends at TBN and said, ‘Hey, we have this show that we feel really passionately about having available to people on Easter weekend, like there’s just something special about this story specifically and where we are in the world. Is there anything we can do together?’” Miller recalled. “And they said, ‘Yeah, we’ll make it happen.’”
Less than two weeks later, after reworking and rushing everything to TBN on a limited staff, “Jesus” aired on the Christian television network, giving Sight & Sound Theatres “the largest audience we’ve ever had” for a show, Miller said.
Now, months later, Sight & Sound Theatres — which was expecting nearly one million visitors in Lancaster alone this year — is days away from another first: live-streaming its newest project, “Queen Esther.”
“Coming out of [the partnership with TBN], we kind of had this realization that we really believe that the thing that God is growing for us in this season is just taking us to the next step of what He has called us to, which is expanding beyond our two locations,” Miller said. “God’s faithfulness every step of the way has just been astounding and we’re incredibly grateful for it.”
While the Branson and Lancaster theaters are now reopened to very limited audiences, the upcoming “Queen Esther” production will also be live-streamed exclusively on Sight & Sound TV. For more information about the platform or to purchase tickets for the show, click here.