The Passion of the Christ: The Musical? Fox is extending the live musical productions trend with The Passion, a two-hour musical event, which will air live from New Orleans on March 20, 2016 8-10 PM. Hosted and narrated by New Orleans native Tyler Perry, it will tell the story of the last hours of Jesus Christ, featuring a cast of top entertainers performing popular tunes arranged by music producer Adam Anders (Glee, Rock of Ages). The project is looking to capitalize on recent interest in both live TV musicals (NBC’s The Sound of Music, The Wiz!) and Jesus-themed programming like The Bible and Killing Jesus.
Set in modern day, The Passion follows 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. The story will be staged live in New Orleans, while featuring a procession of hundreds of people carrying a 20-foot, illuminated cross from Champion Square outside the Superdome to the live stage at Woldenburg Park on the banks of the Mississippi River.
The project is based on a format originally created in the Netherlands by Eye2Eye Media’s Jacco Doornbos. The Dutch version of The Passion (see video) has been produced annually since 2011 and has aired for the last five consecutive years, commanding a 46 percent market share in 2015.
The US adaptation will be produced by dick clark productions, working alongside Eye2Eye Media and Anders Media Inc.
“The Passion is both wonderfully entertaining and genuinely inspirational,” said Fox Entertainment president David Madden. “Tyler Perry is the perfect host to lead the cast — and viewers — through the streets of New Orleans in this contemporary re-telling of a timeless story.”
Executive producing The Passion are Allen Shapiro, Mike Mahan Mark Bracco of DCP, Jacco Doornbos of Eye2Eye Media, Adam Anders of Anders Media Inc. and David Grifhorst (The Passion: Netherlands). Robert Deaton (CMA Awards) will serve as executive producer and showrunner. DCP will distribute internationally.
NBC launched the current trend of live primetime musicals with its holiday offerings, most recently The Wiz! Live earlier this month. Fox has a live staging of Grease slated for Jan. 31.
Here is a clip from one of the original productions of The Passion and a promo for its US broadcast on The Catholic TV Network.