Our kids love Christmas. They get it honest – I love Christmas. I love the cozy, warm and fuzzy feeling you get with the twinkling lights and fun music. I love spending time with family and eating delicious food. I love the traditions, and the memories. For me personally, Christmas is a season – not just a day- and a family centered holiday. Yes – Christmas has become commercialized, but as with all things, I believe the pendulum will swing back. Families are attempting to reign in their children’s demands for bigger and more elaborate gifts in lieu of experiences that create meaningful memories.
In that light, we were thrilled to be afforded the opportunity to kick off the holiday season at Sight & Sound Theatre in Lancaster, PA with their production of the Miracle of Christmas. What a wonderful way to keep the ‘reason for the season’ in our children’s minds as we embark on more secular and family based activities in the coming weeks.
For those not familiar with Sight & Sound Theatres, they are a religious based theater that puts on very well produced shows, with locations in Lancaster, Pa and Branson, MO. As it says on their website, they are “Passionate about Bringing the Bible to Life.” Besides Miracle of Christmas, other shows include Samson, Jonah, Queen Esther, and the life of Jesus. Each production is a 3-4 year endeavor- and results in a stage set and quality performances that enable the audience to be transported to biblical times.
We were provided tickets to this show in exchange for our coverage. The opinions are 100% our own.
The Miracle of Christmas is not your kids’ preschool Nativity scene – the production values are Hollywood-esque. But the storytelling is not. The Miracle of Christmas tells the Biblical story of Jesus’ birth on stage. Though they add some dialogue and scenes to advance the story, there is nothing that alters the Biblical tale you are probably familiar with.
The exterior of the theater itself is quite impressive, and the very long line to enter the parking lot indicated the popularity of Sight & Sound. Inside, it resembled a large auditorium, but on the outside, it resembled a church. As you can imagine, many churches and organized groups attend shows at this venue. As you can see from our picture, simple but beautiful lights and wreathes adorned the façade of the building – providing us with that warm and fuzzy feeling I mentioned above.
The inside lobby of the building did not disappoint, either. There was quite a bit to look at inside the entrance. Statues, signs for the shows, a sky on the ceiling – which our three-year-old loved. And the smell of roasted candied almonds was pretty irresistible.
Not a family to forego snacks, we did indulge our kids and ourselves at the snack bar before heading to our seats. There is a full concession stand with an impressive selection to choose from. We had eaten before arriving, but we could have found something at the theater. And yes – we got some almonds, which did not disappoint!
Finding our seats was very easy, with separate entrances for A,B,C, and D. Seems insignificant, but with a large theater it is helpful to know exactly where to go. Ushers showed us right to our seats, and they were in a great spot. Once we settled in, a staff member came over to our children and made sure that they could see, and offered a booster seat, which our ‘big boy’ declined.
To open the show, a group of acapella singers wowed us (well me anyway) with a rendition of Joy to the World. I am always impressed when people can sing so beautifully without any instrument accompaniment! Very impressive!
The show began with a starry sky appearing all over the ceiling, and that was a huge hit with our children. It felt like we were outside, not inside a theater.
Throughout the production there are plenty of things to keep the kids engaged – singing, dancing, moving around, stages on three sides, flying actors, and live animals. Considering the ages of our kids, they did not get restless during the show.
If you are a believer in the story of Jesus – historical or religious, I think you will find the show very detailed and true to what is taught to Christian believers. The story captures many of the stories you are familiar with: The Annunciation by the angel Gabriel, the story of John the Baptist’s parents, the trip to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus in the manger, and the Three Kings.
It also adds in some other tales you may not be as familiar with, such as the betrothal of Mary and Joseph, which opens the show. It also provides some background to life in Galilee at the time of Jesus, as there are scenes depicting life under Roman rule, rebellion against the Romans, as well as the dangers Mary faced being accused of adultery.
The story is also very family friendly. Despite some minor violence, some of the more difficult things to explain to little kids, like the Massacre of the Innocents, is not depicted.
Given the thoroughness of the story, it is quite long, running over two hours. A 15-minute intermission was helpful for a bathroom break and some fresh snacks to sustain our kids for the second half. But like we said earlier, our guys did not get restless during the show, which really surprised us.
I won’t spoil any particulars, but our middle son thought some of the special effects (can we say lightening zaps) in the second half were quite entertaining, and the meaning behind them certainly seemed to impress many audience members. In fact it was evident that this portrayal of the story of the birth of Jesus was quite moving for many people in attendance, and quite enjoyable for us.
It is easy to find family activities around the Christmas season. But if you are like us, you probably need a break from multiple shopping trips, Hallmark movies, Christmas cartoons and Santa visits. Do yourself and your family a favor this Christmas season: kick-off your Christmas season with the Miracle of Christmas. Then do the things that are really important this holiday season: help out the unfortunate, visit a sick or lonely relative, spend time with your loved ones, and be thankful for all the blessings in your life.