Lunch With Jesus

by Stephen O'Rear

Landon E. can’t believe his eyes. Every time he reaches into the basket, the 7-year-old pulls out more fish and bread.

“Jesus did it, Papa!” he shouts with joy.

The feeding of the 5,000 is Landon’s favorite Bible story. “Jesus did a big miracle,” he says. “A little bit of bread and a little bit of fish, and He passed out tons!”

Sight & Sound Theatres -- Jesus

Miracles come to life every week at Sight & Sound Theatres in Pennsylvania. That’s where Landon plays the loaves-and-fishes boy in the new musical, “Jesus.”

Kids like Landon play an important part in the story.

“It’s great, seeing their faces react to these things as they naturally would,” says Jonathan Blair, who plays Jesus. “They’re just innocent, and Jesus says that’s how you have to be to enter the kingdom.”

All in the Family
In the show, actors play Landon’s parents. “It’s kind of strange, acting with another family,” he says. “But you do it over and over again.” He relies on his sister (played by his real sister) for help.

Meanwhile, Landon’s dad directs the show. “This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to direct my children, and it’s an absolute blast.”

Landon agrees. “I think it’s cool that my dad works here and that I work here, too.”

Sometimes, it can be hard work. “I write my lines so I don’t forget them,” Landon says. He also had to adjust to the size of Sight & Sound’s stage. The 2,000- seat theater has giant moving sets and live animals. It even rains during the performance!

“It looks huge from the outside and it actually is huge,” he says. But after weeks of rehearsal, it felt like home. “It’s fun being up on the stage, and Jesus means a lot to me.”

Sight & Sound Theatres -- Jesus

Landon’s Favorites
Color: Black
Food: Everything
Class: Math
Sport: Soccer

Sight & Sound Theatres -- Jesus

A Camel Is My Co-Star
Fifty-six animals perform in “Jesus,” including birds, pigs, camels and, of course, a donkey.

“They don’t speak English, so we have to use our body language,” animal trainer Bill Shiplet says. “We use a lot of animal crackers.”

Sight & Sound has its own stables, a training arena and pastures. “We train the animals, but we also have to train the actors,” Michael Angelino explains.

Between shows, the trainers give the animals regular exercise and lots of open space. “Downtime is very important,” Joanna Sudlow says. “They don’t always have to be onstage.” The camels, for example, love to play in the snow.

“This job is everything I love,” Michael says. “There’s animals, it’s theater, and also we get to tell the Gospel.”

“Jesus” runs at Sight & Sound Theatres all this year. For ticket information, click here.

Copyright © 2018 Focus on the Family. Photos © Sight & Sound Theatres.