On March 18, the Lansing Journal reports on the best on TV for the weekend, which they describe as the “WEEKEND’S MUST-SEE: ‘The Passion,'” on FOX, 8-10 p.m. , this Palm Sunday. After triumphing with other spring musicals, FOX is presenting another live musical for TV. This is “The Passion,” with Tyler Perry, which with its multiple stages will tell of Jesus Christ’s final hours on earth. It is produced in New Orleans in modern dress. Stages are set aside the Mississippi River. A procession will move through the city. Tyler Perry will narrate the show. It uses pop songs and pop stars: Jencarlos Canela, a telenovela star, plays Jesus; Chris Daughtry performs Judas; Tricia Yearwood is Mary; Seal plays Pilate; and Yolanda Adams, Michael W. Smith and more play other roles.
Tyler Perry and FOX have teamed up to bring this spectacular live musical production to TV on Palm Sunday in New Orleans. Its creators hope it will have the same ratings as the “Sound of Music” and other recent live TV musicals, when more than 20 million people tuned in. Jencarlos Canela, who plays the lead role, has said, “It is one of the biggest honors I have ever been given,” In modernizing the Crucifixion Story, this musical is set in the streets of present day New Orleans. “We are staying true to the biblical sense of it and the scriptures. That is intact. That is not being changed. No one is writing words in Jesus’ mouth. That is not going to happen…I feel that it is going to appeal to an even bigger audience that needs to hear that story about love and acceptance and forgiveness,” ,” Canela has said. Tyler Perry, who is from New Orleans, is the narrator for the two-hour Fox television musical special. Not only are there multiple stage, but there are big screens and people carrying a 20-foot, illuminated cross from the super dome to the banks of the Mississippi.
This massive production has drawn Michael W. Smith. He performs one of Jesus’ disciples. “I think it is unique. I think it is a wild and wonderful idea that has worked in Holland and why would it not work here….” This production is unique to American television, but it has been a tradition in the Netherlands. Samples of this spectacular production in The Netherlands can be seen on YouTube.
Christian Cinema reports, that the show will “follow the dramatic and inspirational story of Jesus of Nazareth, as he presides over the Last Supper, and then is betrayed by Judas, put on trial by Pontius Pilate, convicted, crucified and resurrected.” They share what Perry says about the production, ” So next weekend I will be hosting and narrating ‘The Passion,’ live on FOX. When I was asked to do this I thought, ‘wait a second, FOX is gonna do what?’…what is The Passion…It’s not a musical like Grease or The Wiz, this is the story of Jesus Christ’s last hours on earth, told as if He were on earth today. It’s a biblical story told in modern times, set to some of today’s most popular songs performed throughout and all around New Orleans. “
Perry continues by explaining the reason he wanted to be involved in this project. He says he has been shocked to find out how many people in this country don’t know the story of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. He has also been shocked at the amount of people under 25 who don’t believe in anything. He believes ‘The Passion’ is a wonderful opportunity to retell this amazing story. His prayer and hope is that it opens a dialogue that starts a revival all over this country.
Further, Tyler Perry says, ” ‘The Passion’ is about love, inclusion and compassion for all mankind. It’s for believers and also nonbelievers. It’s for all faiths and all backgrounds. This story doesn’t just belong to one group, it belongs to humanity. Love, forgiveness and compassion, those are things that are universal to us all. We all need them and The Passion will deliver it right into your home.”
Perry then calls on his audience and others all over this country to support this show. He asks us to help him and his colleagues to “…send a message to Hollywood that we want to see more TV shows that leave us lifted, inspired and changed. Shows that leave us hopeful….” Finally, he thanks FOX, the creator, and producers of “The Passion.” He thanks them for bringing some balance to TV. He further says thank you to all who will watch, pray, and support this project. He asks that we all get behind it in spirit and in faith.