NASHVILLE — Sight & Sound Theatres had planned to release "Jesus" on the big screen this Easter weekend but with movie theaters around the country closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, the entertainment company will instead be offering it for free.
“With people not being able to gather together to celebrate Easter, our hope is that by making this show available, we might all feel a sense of community and connection as we watch the greatest rescue story of all time come to life in this unique way,” said Sight & Sound Chief Creative Officer Josh Enck.
The original stage production — which focuses on the people the Son of God came in contact with when He walked the earth and how He rescued them, from the Apostle Peter to Mary Magdalene — will be on TBN, April 10-12.
“Sight and Sound’s ‘Jesus’ show premiered 2018 and ran for two years, and the way it was produced was so cinematic in nature with the 300-foot wrap-around stage that it adapted perfectly to the screen,” Enck told The Christian Post. “When we saw it on the screen as a finished product, we were blown away by it. We’re so passionate about it because this story needs to be out there, told in this fresh new way.”
Over a million people have watched the live performance of “Jesus” at Sight & Sound’s theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The musical stage adventure is being shown on TBN on Saturday (April 11) at 1 p.m. ET. It is also being made available on the TBN app and website for viewing anytime beginning Friday and through Easter Sunday.
Katie Miller, corporate communications manager at Sight & Sound told CP that the production takes a "very personal approach to the Jesus story.”
“We meet so many characters and learn the story of who they were both before and after they encounter Jesus," she said. “After watching the show, so many people came to us and said, ‘That’s my story. That’s how Jesus rescued me.' Act One is about individual rescues from the Bible; Act Two is about our rescue.
"I think that's one of the most inspiring and unexpected things that came out of that show. People saw themselves in the characters and in the way that Jesus was meeting every single person, right where they were at, and bringing to them what they needed to be rescued.”
The event also dramatizes inspirational moments from Jesus’ life, from challenging the Pharisees to healing the sick and hurting. According to Enck, the writers wanted to highlight Jesus' humanity and ability to connect with those of every walk of life.
“With Sight & Sound, we usually try to show the flaws and humanness of our characters, from Moses to Noah,” he said. “With Jesus, there are no flaws. However, we also didn't want to present the person of Christ as the stained-glass version of Jesus where He’s not accessible or touchable.”
“We wanted to keep that reverence and holiness, that's absolutely critical,” he clarified. “But at the same time, He rolled up his sleeves, and He strapped on sandals, and He walked on water; He was right there with people, wherever they were. We really tried to capture that truth.”
For more than four decades, Sight & Sound has provided biblically-based entertainment for over 22 million people at their Lancaster and Branson, Missouri, performance theaters. The premiere television broadcast and digital event of “Jesus” follows other Sight & Sound productions that made the journey from stage to screen, including “Noah” in 2019, “Moses” in 2018 and “Jonah” in 2017.
Enck told CP that Sight & Sound seeks to “equip and inspire the Church” through storytelling and action-packed performances.
“We do have mostly church people who come to our shows and they often leave so inspired for their ministries, nonprofits, and individual callings,” he said. “We’ve heard amazing stories of people who have attended shows and gone back to their congregations and done some incredible Kingdom work as a result.”
But the most powerful responses, Enck said, are from audience members who give their lives to Christ after witnessing a Sight & Sound production.
“We have what we call an ‘after-show ministry.’ After every performance, we open it up to prayer, and with this show in particular, the numbers were higher than ever of people dedicating their lives to Christ,” he said. “People came to us, tears streaming down their face, asking for prayers, asking the Lord into their hearts.
“God is working through this show. That alone makes it so incredibly significant.”