Television has been seeing a lot of success with live musicals being brought to the screen lately. In January, Fox brought in the 2nd highest amount of viewers- right after The Sound of Music: Live for Grease: Live with 12.2 million viewers. They're hoping to go for another record with their next live TV musical, The Passion, which takes the atonement story and modernizes it, placing it in the city of New Orleans.
The two-hour event, hosted and narrated by Tyler Perry (well-known for his Madea films), will be televised live on March 20th on Fox, as the final hours of Jesus Christ is reenacted through the streets of New Orleans.
Executive Producer, Mark Bracco, explained at the TCA Winter Press Tour in January, "Tyler will be in Woldenberg Park, and then there will be scenes throughout the two hours that are shot at various locations, from the French Quarter to Jackson Square to Audubon Park." There will be a big procession of this illuminated cross throughout the streets.
Of course, it wouldn't be a musical without some good music, and Fox has brought in some talent for this production. Jencarlos Canela is playing Jesus. Canela is a big actor in the world of telenovelas, and is also an award-winning singer/songwriter in the latin music industry. He will be joined by country music star, Trisha Yearwood, who plays Mary. Seal will play Pontius Pilate. Chris Daughtry, the American Idol contestant, who has been super successful with his band after being eliminated in fourth place on the show, will be Judas. Yolanda Adams, the gospel singer, performs the opening song.
Originally imported from the Netherlands, where only a small percentage of the population even believe in a deity, the show had great popularity that has grown for five years straight. According to Billboard, the musical had a 46 percent market share in the Netherlands in 2015, even though the research company Ipsos found only seventeen percent of the Dutch believe in a deity, and that could be because the musical is brought to the modern day with contemporary pop hits. Adam Anders , the executive producer and music arranger for The Passion told Billboard, "The Netherlands is not a very religious country, but the show is just so powerful to watch. I didn't understand a single word, and I was still moved. I was like, 'If we can do this in the States, which is obviously a lot more religious, I can't imagine how big it could be."
The show asked permission from several artists to use their songs in this musical. Chris Daughtry will be performing Imagine Dragons' "Demons." Also being performed will be "We Don't Need Another Hero" (Tina Turner), "The Reason" (Hoobastank), and Celine Dion's "Love Can Move Mountains."
Unlike most musicals about Jesus, robes will be replaced with contemporary clothing and props like cell phones and police cars. Tyler Perry says, "Replace the robes and sandals with Jordans and jeans, and you have a visual people can relate to."
With something for everyone, this event should be a must-see on t.v. Tune into Fox on March 20th on Palm Sunday. Here's a small behind the scenes video about the live musical.