March 2022 – I took a two day bus trip to Lancaster, PA with the Busy Buddies and Eastern Star groups to attend the production of “David” at the Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster. We left early Monday morning and returned late Tuesday evening. It was a really nice trip. Here’s how it went:
We got on the bus operated by Grand Tours Monday at 7:00 am.
This was our bus – the photo was taken at the hotel in Lancaster
It was a full bus…..so many of us were just happy to be going on an adventure after so long
About 2:30, we arrived at the Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, PA. This is a family run “village” with 40+ shops, eateries, a working canning kitchen, and an Inn right in the midst of Lancaster farmlands and Amish country. The weather wasn’t cooperating, though…..it was about 30 degrees, damp, and VERY windy and I was in quite a bit of pain from sitting so long on the bus with a bit of sciatica. So, it kind of put a damper on the “joy of shopping” for my friend and I. Some of the others felt the same, but there were quite a few who weren’t deterred by the weather at all – they still visited as many shops as they could….LOL. As for my friend and I, we started out with lunch at the Harvest Cafe. I chose the soup and 1/2 sandwich – an open faced chicken salad topped with a cranberry/orange marmalade and chicken corn soup…..soooooo good!!! this was the only meal that was “on our own” – the rest of the meals on the trip were included in our tour price. We did a bit of browsing at a few of the shops – mainly in the Jam & Relish Kitchen and a couple of artsy type shops. I also strolled through a Christmas shop. All the shops were just lovely! I really wish it had been a better day so we could have done more browsing – such a nice place with lots of outdoor seating that I would have LOVED if it was a bit warmer and sunny. Maybe I’ll get another chance to visit it.
We spent about 2 1/5 or 3 hours there and then went on to check into our hotel. We stayed at the Country Inn of Lancaster. It was a lovely hotel – nicely decorated and very comfortable rooms. the beds and pillows were so comfortable and the room was very quiet…..I slept like a baby! They had free coffee, tea, and popcorn available at all hours in the lobby and a limited continental breakfast offered in the morning. I would stay there, again.
Dinner was at 7:00 that evening at the restaurant on the hotel property – just across the parking lot. It was a buffet style dinner with several options. Everyone gathered there just before 7:00. It was a bit late to be eating, for me, and I wasn’t very hungry after the delicious late lunch, so I didn’t eat much. We went back to the room, watched a little TV, and was snoring shortly after 10:00! That put an end to Day One!
After having a muffin, an orange, and a cup of tea at the continental breakfast in the lobby, the bus was loaded and we all headed out to the Sight and Sound Theater.
This is a wonderful theater! It opened in its current state in 1998 – the productions began with “on the road slideshows” in the 1960s and the first Sight & Sound physical location opened in 1976, the second larger Entertainment Center opened in 1991 – that location was destroyed by fire in 1997. So — what millions of people visit in Lancaster, now opened in 1998. Then, in 2008, they expanded to a second location in Branson, MO. They remain a family-owned business to this day and bring the Bible to life through the most amazing productions.
The theater seats 2000 people, but it feels surprisingly small. I’ve attended three productions there and each time, the seats were very good – twice I sat on the main floor and once in the balcony (which I didn’t like, at first, and likely would never choose to sit there, again – but only because of the steep steps I had to descend to get to the row my seat was in – I don’t like heights – but once I was seated, it was really amazing for viewing) – so, I’m confident there isn’t really any “BAD” seats.
The productions are a mix of live performance, animatronics, special effects, and lighting that surrounds the audience. The main part of the production is on the stage to the front of the theater. But, the actors enter from the wings and the aisles from the back of the theater, and there is projected images and some live actors on the side walls, as well. The audience truly feels like they are a part of the performance – part of the crowds – part of the action. AND — they use live animals that can be on stage or in the aisles — if someone is doing something that requires them to ride in on a horse – they ride in on a horse!!! Shepherds tend REAL sheep!!! Flocks of doves fly overhead!!! It is truly amazing!!! The announcer provided some instructions before the show started – he said that there will be live animals and actors in the aisles, so cautioned the audience to stay seated and said “we don’t want you to be swept away by a flock of sheep”……my thought was “why not – I think I’d enjoy that”!!! hahahaha
You are not permitted to take photos in the theater, so no pictures beyond the ones I took at the hotel and outside the theater.
They have done several productions that represent various stories of the Bible and tend to have one each “season”. This trip, we saw “David“. I have to admit, I wasn’t that familiar with the entirety of David’s story – I knew some and realized I knew more than I thought I knew, but I still learned a lot that I was not that familiar with during this extremely emotional production. David was a master poet and musician – he wrote the Psalms. He was a fearless warrior – he slayed Goliath and lead armies into battle to take back the holy land. He was anointed King and favored by God. He also had a dark side and did some things that he, himself, was not proud of and struggled to seek forgiveness for his sins. From the brochure: “Today, as you prepare to see giants fall and the Psalms come to life, it is our hope that one message resounds from the stage: throughout our victories and defeats, God is with us, always.”
I loved how they used original music to bring the Psalms to live through song. Each song took David’s poetic Psalms and turned them into stunning lyrics. Also, each show I see at the Sight & Sound has at least one powerful scene that literally takes my breath away and brings me to tears. This one had two…..both in the second Act. First, was the scene about Psalm 51, written by David when the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and he seeks forgiveness and cleansing. In particular, it reflects the line that reads “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” In this scene, the theater goes dark with stars all around the room – ceiling, walls, surrounding the stage and the audience – and David is raised on a platform that you can not see, so it looks like he is ascending into the stars and snow begins to fall all around him. I was overcome with emotion! The second was the finale with David’s silhouette on his death bed behind a white curtain – I won’t give away how this was an emotional powerhouse for me because I am not an “ending spoiler”, but I can say it drives home the message of forgiveness and love and really touched my heart. It was also really cool to see the giants fall – first Goliath and then later others – through animatronics – WOW!!!
It was a spectacular show — if you’ve never been to a show at Sight & Sound – either in Lancaster or Branson – you really should treat yourself to an amazing experience and spiritual enlightenment.
After the show, we were taken to the Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant in Bird-In-Hand, PA – about 15 minutes from the theater. We had an awesome buffet lunch that had so much to choose from – from soup and salads to hot foods of every kind to a wide variety of desserts. It was sooooooo good – everything I took – and I took WAY too much – was absolutely delicious!!! Definitely hope to eat there again someday, for sure! And….after we stuffed ourselves, we started out on the long drive back home.
I really enjoyed this trip…..I recommend doing these trips, if you get the chance. The group I went with usually offers it once a year. Also – First Choice Travel in Batavia is offering pretty close to the same trip (different hotel and some dining options) to see “David” July 13-14, 2022 – check them out. I’m sure there are other groups who offer it, too, but I am not aware of them to add here…..and, of course, you could go on your own, too.
In addition to “David“, the other two shows I’ve seen were: “Moses” in fall 2014 and “Jesus” in spring 2018. All three were incredible!!! All three were very emotional!!! I think “Moses” is still my personal favorite, though. The “take your breath away” moment in “Moses” was when Moses parted the sea – the waves of the parting of the water was projected on the sides of the theater and the sound of the water rushing was so loud and the wind was blowing over the audience and the actors were running up the aisles to get to the other side…..I literally felt like I was in that path created by the parting waters – WOW – what an experience!!! There were a couple of those moments in “Jesus” – definitely the crucifixion scene, for sure, but the one that sticks in my mind most of all was mostly because that show was the one where we sat in the balcony seats — when Jesus ascended into heaven after he was crucified, it seemed like he rose right in front of me – like I could reach out and touch him, if I wanted to!
Other points of interest we did on the other two trips:
On the “Moses” trip: A local guide got on our bus one morning to take us on a driving tour of the Amish communities and gave us a TON of information about the Amish people and their culture – it was fascinating!!! We also had a shopping stop at the Intercourse Canning Company – a great place to shop for jams, jellies, pickles, stuff like that! Link to my blog post about that trip:
On the “Jesus” trip: We saw another smaller production in an experiential theater at the Amish Experience called “Jacob’s Choice” – the story of a teen-aged Amish boy who is at the age where he must choose to stay in the Amish community or leave for the English world. In an attempt to help his struggle, his grandfather tells him the story of how the Amish were persecuted in their home land and had to flee to America to start new communities. It was very enlightening and emotional. I wrote a small post on that trip, but didn’t take any photos and didn’t write much, so won’t link it here.
On BOTH trips, we ate at two awesome places: The Amish Experience in Bird-In-Hand, PA and Country Cupboard in Lewisburg, PA – both were great! And, on the first trip, we also had a wonderful meal at an Amish family owned restaurant called Hometown Kitchen in Lancaster. They put on a full Sunday Dinner type meal – turkey and filling (they call dressing/stuffing “filling”), roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, buttered noodles, peas and carrots, a salad, homemade cranberry jam and strawberry jam, rolls, and dessert! IT….WAS….AMAZING!!!!
So……all three wonderful trips! I am hoping they do “Noah“, again – I’d love to see that one – many of my friends say it was their favorite and they all saw it before I started going.