The Washington Post on March 21, reports on FOX’s “The Passion,” with Tyler Perry as narrator, that was aired live last evening on Palm Sunday and can still be seen via on demand streaming. The moving event that involved multitudes in New Orleans last evening involved the following and more: multiple stages along the Mississippi River, multiple screens, a procession of multitudes holding and celebrating the cross as it moved through the city, contemporary musical dramatizations of the original Easter Week story, and heart-felt interviews with celebrants in the spirit of passion plays and pageants moving through towns in the Middle Ages and since in dress and music contemporary for its own time.
On March 21, The Boston Herald reports on and describes the special Fathom Events, “Easter Mysteries,” scheduled for theaters tomorrow. They state, “If you’re looking for a family activity leading up to Easter that’s about more than Peeps and stuffed bunnies, check out tomorrow’s one-night-only presentation of ‘Easter Mysteries’ playing in select local theaters. It’s an original musical theater depiction of the Passion of Christ’s death and resurrection, reimagined for modern audiences with an interracial cast portraying iconic biblical characters. ” This production directed by Danny Goldstein has been staged and filmed before a live audience and features veteran Broadway actors and singers from “Les Miserables,” “Mary Poppins” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” “This is a Passion play like no other,” said veteran Broadway actor Phillip Boykin, who plays Caiaphas. “The love bursts forth and the music soars.” (Fathom Events also presents on Wednesday a 60th anniversary showing of “The Ten Commandments.”)
During the Middle Ages developing types of reenactments portrayed Bible stories. The language of the Bible and of the church was Latin, not the common vernacular of the people. Thus, the people were dependent on the priests to teach them the Bible. Drama became an instructional tool in the hands of priests and choirboys to teach biblical stories. Passion plays depicting the life of Christ were first produced in churches. In time stages were put on wheels to be made moveable. Thus, the first pageants and pageant wagons were created. The word “pageant” meant “rolling platform.” Guilds produced cycle pageant plays, thus whole towns were involved and the plays on pageant wagons drew great crowds. Traditions of passion plays, productions, pageants in Biblical, religious, ethnic, as well as contemporary dress have continued to involve large number of participants and to inspire those involved and those who view all over the globe.
As Holy Week passion production and pageants are being staged all over the country and world, there are also movies in theaters that are appropriate for Easter Week. “Miracles From Heaven” is is a resurrection story based on true events in the life of young Anna Beam who struggled with the support of her family for four years with an incurable, debilitating digestive disorder but was wonderfully and surprisingly healed in a freak accident. Many inspiring universal insights for all ages are presented through this delightful movie. “Risen” and “Young Messiah” are inspired by true events recorded in the Bible and histories and take more dramatic license in telling the stories. Both movies have excellent acting, cinematography, music and more. Both films movies picturizes the Roman brutality of the times, but “The Young Messiah” depicts it ways that are appropriate for older children through adults. “The Young Messiah” is unique as it presents Jesus Christ as a spiritually-sensitive child and role model. “Risen” is more suitable for teens and adults due to stronger depictions of Roman violence.
All of these passion productions and movies for Easter Week bring the original events and insights about faith to life in new and fresh ways. Happy Easter!