QUEEN ESTHER, at the beautiful Sight & Sound Theatre, Branson, MO, opened March 10, 2023
The incredible opening event to celebrate and dedicate the newest show to the Branson Sight & Sound Theatre, Queen Esther, was the perfect pre-party for an imaginative and awe-inspiring theatrical presentation.
Many Branson friends attended in their party attire and dined on lamb lollipops, hummus, fresh veggies, olives, Mediterranean pizza, and mushrooms.
No photos can be taken during the show, so I will use words to help draw that picture. Let’s start from the beginning.
The Sight & Sound Theatre
The Sight & Sound Theatre has tons of parking, and they are completely prepared for a full house. The beautifully lit sidewalks are just a short stroll from the reasonably flat parking lot to the 2000-seat venue. Have your cameras ready because a large lion and lamb statue welcomes visitors at the front. The fabulous statue sets the tone for what you will experience inside.
The sprawling lobby is designed for convenience and has shopping, concessions, and many restrooms. The auditorium is impressive, with grand stadium seating and cascading seats on the floor. Animals and cast members use the extra wide aisles as part of the production.
The show was spectacular! The cast, the stage, the sets, the music, the costumes, and of course, the story!
The story is by far the most essential part of the night, and the first thing you hear is, ‘everyone has a story, and this is mine.’
It doesn’t matter how often you have been to this theatre; when the 300-foot surround stage is revealed, there is a gasp.
Let’s set the stage. The curtains open to the palace of King Xerex in front and center, with the housing for royals on the left and the city of the Hebrews on the right. The majestic sets are as tall as 40 feet, with animals, cast, and buildings spread from top to bottom, side to side.
On the Hebrew side, Mordecai’s home twirls as it opens up to reveal the inside of both stories. The cast moves around and up and down as the set rotates into position. When Mordecai goes to work, that building moves in and out of the scene and performs similarly to his home. Again, the characters have no issue roaming and moving with the set. It’s amazing!
The palace is ginormous and is designed to open up and move back and forth. But, the biggest wow for me was when the palace moved forward, opened up, and the floor dropped open for a new set to rise. Out of the floor came a library, a garden, and my very favorite, the large crepe myrtle tree. This ‘floor set’ exposed itself several times throughout the show. Truly, I need to see the show again to pay more attention to those sets.
Queen Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah. In Hebrew, her name is symbolically associated with the myrtle tree, representing peace, love, and prosperity.
The Elephant in the Room
The animals at the Branson Sight & Sound are beautiful and well-kept. King Xerxes has a beautiful white afghan dog with a ponytail on top. The camel and lamas look as if they are ready to show at the fairgrounds, and the horses… woah… they are shiny and strong.
It was the elephants that made everyone gasp, and then laugh. The baby elephant is a human in a costume. But, it takes you a minute to realize it. The cast member is playful and acts like, well, a baby elephant. I can only imagine how much fun it would be to play that part.
Then the grand puppetry elephant lumbers onto the stage, topped with an intricate seat carrying a beautiful woman. I’m sure they could do a full show on the making, running, and caring for that stunning piece of art.
QUEEN ESTHER Cast and Costumes
There were HUNDREDS of costumes! Spectacular, blingy, bright, rich, flowing, detailed costumes. Starting right off, Vashti!!!! Holy smokes. She was exactly like the story says, the ‘most beautiful woman in all the land.’ Her gold costume and makeup were like nothing I had ever seen in a show. Seriously, she has such a small role in the show, but I think she was the most wow moment with a cast member.
The audio and visual effects mixed with the costumes and sets matched the stage’s grandeur and helped bring Esther to life.
King Xerxes rich, long, flowing robes matched his blooming pants and jeweled vests. They represent his wealth and power and frankly, his voice. He had an incredible stage presence and truly felt like a king.
But Haman (boo, hiss, boo) and his wife appear as royal as the King. Haman’s wife, Zeresh, is another show-stopper with an amazing voice and costumes. I want to boo these characters, but I want to cheer the cast members.
Esther’s voice, costumes, and character are all shining stars. Kudos to the producers for developing many characters to support the lead. Esther shines on her own but rises to the top as she reflects the talent of the rest of the cast. There are too many characters to mention them all by name. But they have all been hand-picked and are truly amazing!
The story is of a beautiful, kind woman of faith who is plucked from a simple life to be made Queen. She has been taught well from her childhood and risks her life to save her people.
Set in about 479 BC, this story is still being told worldwide today. Esther, a girl of little, is chosen by God at the right time to show her faith.
The producers, the writers, the musicians, and the cast combine with the costumes and the set designs to make you feel like you are truly in Persia over 2400 years ago.
Today, in 2023, the message of Queen Esther rings true. It’s again time to stand for what we believe in and to stand for those we love ‘for such a time as this.’
13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.
14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
15 Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer,
16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.
17 So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.
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