The curtain will soon drop for good on a live production that has entertained audiences for more than a half-century.
The cast of the Shepherd of the Hills outdoor theatre production was notified this week in a letter from the attraction's owners that the outdoor play will no longer be staged. In the letter, which was posted on the Shepherd of the Hills Facebook page by a cast member, owners Gary and Pat Snadon cite health issues, higher insurance costs, taxes and the "uncertainty of what's happening to small businesses" as reasons for the play's closure.
The letter also indicated that the owners had to pay more out of their own pockets to keep the show running. Attendance numbers had also declined, the letter stated.
In a news release, the Snadons thanked the people who attended the play as well as the cast and crew for their support.
The final production this year takes place Oct. 19. The play, which has entertained audiences for 54 years, was based on the Shepherd of the Hills book by Harold Bell Wright.
The remainder of the Shepherd of the Hills attractions will remain open. Old Matt's Cabin will be available for tours in the summer, Inspiration Tower and the Vigilante zipline will remain open year-round, and other events will continue to operate as normal, according to a news release.
The play, based on Harold Bell Wright’s 1907 book about first coming to this homestead, takes about 90 actors, 40 horses and a flock of sheep. The play began in 1960, reaching its peak in the '70s and '80s, and the Snadons bought the homestead in 1985. Their daughter, Sharena Naugher says, with so many other theaters coming to Branson, attendance here began to decline years ago.