This was on TV Sunday night, Palm Sunday, and I missed it. I didn’t know about it, but I did see the blog posts Monday Morning. It’s a musical narrative of Christ’s last week leading to the Resurrection. Kathy Schiffer, the producer of the show, writes about it on Aleteia.
“I didn’t want to create a show just for believers. I wanted to reach those who know nothing!”
Adam Anders is talking about his latest project, The Passion, a creative and contemporary retelling of the Gospel narrative which will be broadcast live from New Orleans on Palm Sunday. Anders is executive producer and executive music producer for The Passion. At Fox’s New Orleans studio, he talked to reporters about the project.
Here is the trailer:
Kathy continues on how the idea came about:
Anders first got the idea for The Passion after he was invited to attend a similar large-scale production in Holland. In that country, he reported, only 7 percent of the population goes to church. In contrast, since the musical production of The Passion was introduced there in 2011, it has been viewed by more than 50 percent of Holland’s populace. Anders was excited to realize that this performance could bring the Gospel to people who might otherwise know nothing about it.
“The Catholic Church [in the Netherlands] got behind it, helping to fund and promote it,” Anders told me. “It just took the country by storm. So when I saw that response in a country that’s largely atheist, I thought This is perfect! We’ve got to get it here!”
What a fantastic idea, and New Orleans is a great selection for the host city. Kathy continues:
The procession will originate at New Orleans’ iconic Superdome, where thousands of displaced persons took refuge during Hurricane Katrina. The relevance of New Orleans as a “resurrected city” is not lost on Anders. “Tyler Perry, who grew up in New Orleans, will talk about it,” he told me. “The Superdome, where this starts, has become a symbol of suffering. There is, in people’s minds, that powerful visual of people trapped by the swirling floodwaters. So many lives have been changed — for better and worse. The city lost thousands of people, some who died and some who left and never came back. My own brother lived here and never returned after Katrina. Now he’s back here for the first time — he’ll be playing in the band.”
So who is in it?
The Passion features a star-studded cast from a wide range of musical genres. Tyler Perry is the host and narrator. Cuban American singer/songwriter/actor Jencarlos Canela will play Jesus, clad in a beige trenchcoat. Chris Daughtry stars as Judas, and Trisha Yearwood portrays Jesus’ mother, Mary. British singer/songwriter Seal steps into the role of Pontius Pilate. Christian artist Michael W. Smith plays a disciple. And Nischelle Turner, entertainment correspondent for CNN and anchor/correspondent for Entertainment Tonight in effect plays herself — as a reporter on the streets of New Orleans, interviewing people from the crowd during the live procession. Three musical groups — a band from Los Angeles, a New Orleans jazz band and a choir of voices from local churches — will perform, and there will be an appearance by New Orleans’ famed Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
To be honest, other than Seal, I don’t know any of them, but don’t go by me. I’m pop culture illiterate. Christopher Rossi gave it a fine review on his blog, Christopher Closeup: /
The use of modern songs as the heart of the production showed that God (or at least a spiritual subtext) can be found in popular culture if we open our eyes and ears. Jencarlos Canela as Jesus singing “Calling All Angels” in the Garden of Gethsemane was especially fitting. (“When there is no place safe and no safe place to put my head / When you feel the world shake from the words that are said / And I’m calling all angels / I’m calling all you angels.”). And his duet with Prince Royce as Peter on the Phillip Phillips hit “Home,” brought a new dimension to the song when thought of from the point of view of how Peter felt when Jesus told him he would be the head of His church. (“Settle down, it’ll all be clear / Don’t pay no mind to the demons / They fill you with fear / The trouble—it might drag you down / If you get lost, you can always be found / Just know you’re not alone / ‘Cause I’m gonna make this place your home.”)
Now if you missed it like I did, you can still watch it on streamed at Fox.com, here.
I’ve been watching it and I love it. It’s gospel and very American music. I also love the scenes of New Orleans French Quarter. I’ve only been there once (actually a few months before Hurricane Katrina) and I recognize a number of the wonderful city visuals.