Let me begin by saying that as a ticket seller, I have seen many shows throughout my years in this business. Not only in Branson, but other places as well. There are some great shows in Branson that I recommend every day to my customers - they are good entertainment, and a good value. However, it takes something quite out of the ordinary to make me recommend a show to EACH of my customers, and that is the production of "Jonah" at the Sight & Sound Theatre.
I attended the VIP showing of "Jonah", expecting a very pleasant and well done production. I was wrong. It was glorious, and the best show I have seen in years. I was absolutely astounded! The storyline, of course, was familiar, and contains a great message of forgiveness and redemption. The actors are wonderful throughout, and the singing and dancing was great. I immediately found the character of Jonah to be believable, likeable, and funny. From the opening scene, I was completely caught up in the story. The staging and sets were realistic, and imaginative, and yes...even fun. As with other productions in this theatre, the stage wraps around on all three sides of the audience. The actors don't just stay on the stage - they come down through the aisles, singing and dancing. Keeping with all Sight & Sound productions, there are plenty of animals, too. The stubborn little donkey that Jonah encounters along the road steals the scene! I thought I had seen great staging and sets so far, but it just kept getting better. And bigger. SO much bigger...
The ship that Jonah boards while running from God is amazing. It is huge (30,000 lbs!), has working sails and rigging, and is completely believable as it tosses and turns on the turbulent sea. At intermission, be sure and get out for your refreshments quickly, and come back to your seat. They will not let you back in once the lights dim, and there is good reason for that, as there are actors in the aisles. As the lights dim, and the stage begins to fill with the beautiful coral and sea creatures, you'll believe you are underwater. Watch for the jellyfish! They are beautiful. Here is a little hint - you are immersed (don't worry, you don't get wet!) in the scene. It is unlike anything I have ever experienced. I could hear the audience gasping with delight, clapping, whistling.... And the Whale. Yes, I capitalized "Whale", because it is deserved. Wow! I'm not going to be a spoiler here, but this is something that you definitely don't want to miss. I am still in awe of the opening scene of the second half.
The scenery in Ninevah is dark and foreboding, giving the perfect feel for the wickedness of it's inhabitants. The gatekeeper's costume was both beautiful and frightening at the same time, as were the warrior's costumes. They feel authentic to the period, but still look futuristic. And the Queen of Ninevah - when she sang, she took my breath away. What a powerful voice! I got goosebumps as the various warriors took off their helmets, kneeling to sing. You will, too. It all works up to an uplifting finale, with actors and animals on the stage, in the aisles, and the audience standing and clapping.
I wholeheartedly recommend this show for everyone. In fact, I plan to see it again myself. Even if you don't think this kind of entertainment is your cup of tea, I recommend that you see it for the production alone. Regardless of your reason for going, once you do, I think you'll leave with a new appreciation for the story of Jonah, and the message it gives. To the Glory of God!