"I was blind, but now I see" are lyrics found in the classic hymn, written by John Newton, Amazing Grace. It also echoes the comment of Jeff Bender, the Director/Producer of Samson at Sight & Sound Theaters. Talking about the history of the Samson Production presented in 2 Acts and 24 scenes, which took 3 1/2 years, Jeff says they saw the truth that "God's ways are NOT our ways."
Scripture says, in
Isaiah 55:8-9 Amplified Bible (AMP)
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts higher than your thoughts."
2 Corinthians 12:10 Amplified Bible (AMP)"...For when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength]."
Samson: The Production (2018 - Branson, MI; 2016 Lancanster County, PA)
I had an opportunity to watch Samson at the Sight & Sound Theater in Lancaster County, PA during Sight & Sound Theater's 40th Anniversary (1976-2016).
Watching Samson at the Sight & Sound Theaters is a unique experience because of the 180 degree field of view achieved with the use of a main stage in the middle and two "side" stages located on the left and right sides of the main stage. The main stage is normally the main focus for storytelling. The side stages engage the audience by telling the story of day-to-day activities (farming, herding, etc.). Sometimes the main characters use the side stages to begin and/or end a scene.
|View of the side stage at Sight & Sound Theaters|
In addition, some people like to sit at the end of the rows toward the middle stage as it is used by animals/actors to enter/exit the stage and begin/end a scene.
It is interesting to note that Michael Niederer, who plays the role of Samson (and has been with Sight & Sound since 2013), uses 5 wigs to help tell the story of Samson. There are 2 wigs used in Act 1 and 3 wigs used in Act 2:
- Act 1 - During Samson's teen years (Scene 1)
- Act 1 - The Wedding (Scene 6)
- Act 2 - There are two different wigs as one is so heavy that it requires a harness
- Act 2 - The Grinding Wheel (Scene 11)
Since March 2018, Samson is live on stage in the Sight & Sound Theater in Branson, MI. It scheduled to play until December 29,2018. You can watch the trailer below.
Samson - Live on Stage
As with other Sight & Sound Productions I have experienced, they have been at least on par or better than Broadway for the following reasons:
- Orchestral Music - Production quality music is recorded offsite by an orchestra.
- 180 degree stage - The stage immerses the audience with a 180 degree view of each scene.
- Acting, Singing, and Dancing - Professional actors, singers and dancers are employed whether main or supporting roles/extras.
- Stage/Prop/Costume/Design - The design and staging of props and costumes reflect the time period and story being presented.
- Lighting - The on-stage lighting is controlled and designed for the 180 degree stage. The ceiling lighting is also used to show the night sky/stars.
|180 degree stage - Sight & Sound Theaters|
|Delilah challenges Samson through persistence.|
One of the best scenes for me both visually and seeing the Spirit of God working mightily was Samson carrying the gate and two posts described in Judges chapter 16 verse 3; Samson defeating 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of an Ox, and the finale where Samson is called from prison and attends the Philistines celebration.
Sitting at the end of the aisle was the best part to see Samson carry the gate. This helps "bring the Bible to life." It also gives the audience an idea of the strength that God gave Samson.
|Samson carrying the gate|
In the finale, the Philistines were celebrating their god for delivering Samson giving them the opportunity to make him blind, and imprisoning him. The Bible says the Philistines invited him so "Samson could be made sport." They believed they had triumphed over the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
|Samson summoned from prison and placed between two pillars.|
|Finale - "So the dead which he (Samson) slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life."|
* Paragon, Sight and Sound Theaters (http://paragon360.com/projects/project-profiles/sight-and-sound/)
Note: Other sources appear as hyperlinks within the body of the article text.