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For the Love of Moses: Sight & Sound Brings Epic Old Testament Story to the Big Screen

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

For more than 40 years, Sight & Sound theaters have been producing high quality theatrical stage performances based on the Bible that have delighted audiences near and far.  From “Noah” to “Jonah” to their latest success “Jesus”, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania based theater company seeks to bring Bible stories to life in such a way that audiences will strengthen their faith through what they see on stage and beyond.

That ‘beyond’ now includes movie theaters across the nation.  For the second time in their history*, Sight & Sound is taking one of their live stage performances to the big screen.  Moses, the epic story of one God’s most reluctant heroes, is set to play in more than 750 movie theaters nationwide on September 13th, 15th, and 20th as a Fathom Movie Event.

Find a theater near you to view Sight & Sound’s Moses live movie event.

Set adrift as a baby and now wandering in the wilderness, Moses was an unlikely hero—until God called him into action. From the Nile River to the Red Sea, Moses leads God’s people on an amazing adventure toward the Promised Land.

I recently spoke with Sight & Sound chief creative officer Josh Enck about the upcoming movie event, what it is about Moses that is so endearing to people, and his responsibility to bring a quality product to audiences that will not only entertain but will honor God as well.

For those who don’t know, a typical Sight & Sound production just doesn’t happen overnight. Tell me about the process and timeline of a typical show such as Moses?

It’s a massive project.  We employ roughly 650 people.  It’s one big melting pot of skills.  We all, obviously, have one core belief and that is to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It takes approximately three and a half years to build a Sight & Sound production.

What is it about the story of Moses that is so endearing to people?

I think that a lot of people recognize the Charlton Heston depiction of Moses in The Ten Commandments movie.  That’s a film that aired at Easter for years and years and years.  So, I think people are very familiar with that and the fact that the Ten Commandments has been on the front page of the newspaper for years and years because of political reasons. People are very familiar already with the story of Moses.  But what Sight & Sound always sets out to do is we try to humanize these Biblical heroes.  The heart of the story of Moses is to take that man off the mountain and really get to know who he is.  He wasn’t this perfect guy with perfect hair and who only lifted the Ten Commandments up over his head.  We are talking about a wounded character.  He had a speech impediment.  He had an anger issue.  He killed a man.  He ran away for 40 years.  His life is a real drama. 

The story of Moses features so many content rich stories like the burning bush, the plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, and the Ten Commandments.  As a director, does this create a greater sense of challenge and responsibility to make sure you “get it right” for audiences?

Oh, absolutely.  What we are doing is we are presenting stories onstage of people that audiences build their lives around.  The Biblical text and scripture is what our faith is built upon.  It’s a tremendous responsibility to translate that to the stage and in the script and song.  We never ever want to water down or shy away from the core message of these stories that are embedded in the scriptures.  We want to magnify and dramatize them so that they go from people’s heads to their hearts.

Is there any one event of Moses’ life that you feel is the key to the story of this biblical hero?

Toward the end of Act 1 we have gotten to know Moses quite well.  He is living his life from 40 years old to 80 years old raising sheep as a shepherd.  He thinks that this is pretty much it for him.  It is his lot in life.  That is when he has the burning bush moment and he is not sure he wants to answer that call.  So, his father in-law Jethro really encourages and challenges him there.  Moses says, ‘You don’t know who I am!’ And Jethro responds back, ‘No, you don’t know who you are.’  He says that you’re still running away from God.  And Moses says, ‘How can you say that?  I studied His ways all of these years. I believe in Him.’ And Jethro says, ‘You believe that He doesn’t love you.’ And Moses answers, ‘How could He love me after what I have done?’ And so Moses is reliving all kinds of regret from murder and running away and not being this savior and deliverer to his people.  Just when Moses thinks his life is finished God shows up and says, ‘Your life has just begun.’  I think that is a real strong message to all of us that just when we think we’ve done something to the point of no return and God can’t use me anymore that’s when a lot of times He’s like, ‘Ok, now you’re the man or woman that I think you were meant to be in order to handle this.’

Sight & Sound is known for putting on spectacular stage productions that are highly visual.  What can viewers look for in the Moses movie event that will be a WOW factor?

I do think audiences are going to be taken aback in a positive way by the storyline.  By getting to know this untouchable hero from the Bible. So, I really do think that is going to be paramount. But in the show we take them from the Nile River where Moses floats down it in a special effect that includes an immersive experience down the center aisle of the theater.  We part the Red Sea in view of the audience.  We use high-powered fans, fabric, lighting, smoke, and even a puppeted horse that rears to create that action.  We go from the Nile River to the Red Sea and all of the significant moments in between.  Seeing our set pieces onstage is very impressive.  Seeing them on the screen is equally impressive because there is so much detail in them.  These are just tremendously detailed and designed locations.  I guess you can say our shows are of Biblical proportions.

As the show’s director, what was your greatest challenge in bringing Moses to the stage and big screen?

The challenge for that show was that it is such a massive story with so much content material and different perspective that you could tell it from.  So, picking the right storyline that really humanizes Moses and brings the core theme of deliverance out was probably the number one challenge.  The second greatest challenge was parting the Red Sea.  We thought we had an effect that was going to work for us. And then about a month before rehearsals this effect was not working at all.  That thing only really came together in the fourth quarter.  We put all our brains together and miraculously created something that now stuns the audiences.

After people come see the Moses movie event, when they leave the theatre at the end of the night, what do you want your audiences to take home with them in their head and in their heart?

My greatest hope for this movie event is that people don’t put these Bible heroes on such a pedestal that they think they are the only people that can be used by God.  Moses was an unlikely and reluctant hero until God called him to greatness.  And that applies to all of us.  Just when we think that we are past our prime or have made too many wrong choices to get us into a place where we don’t think God can use us again – I want people to know that these Bible heroes were people too.  They had the same emotions and fears.  If God can use Moses he can certainly use you.

Find a theater near you to view Sight & Sound’s Moses live movie event.

Watch a trailer for Sight & Sound’s Moses live movie event:

 

* Sight & Sound’s production of “Jonah” entertained audiences in 2017 as a Fathom movie event.

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