Tyler Perry’s bringing Easter to the masses a week early.
The movie-and-television mogul’s live environmentally-vast production The Passion begins tonight in the streets of New Orleans and will air simultaneously on Fox at 8pm ET. The Passion is a two-hour musical that follows the final day in the life of Jesus Christ, but with a modernized flavor. After all, it wouldn’t be a Tyler Perry creation if this were just a mere adaptation of the Bible, or, of course, the 2004 Mel Gibson movie The Passion of the Christ.
The story falls in line with its physical air date, as today is Palm Sunday, which is where the tale begins. Playing the role of star Jesus Christ–not to be confused with Jesus Christ Superstar!, another Messiah-based theatrical production–is Jencarlos Canela, taking a momentary breath from his role on the new and rising show Telenovela on NBC.
As the plot itself stems from the happenings and aftermath of the infamous Last Supper, the role of Judas, who–spoiler–betrays Canela’s Christ in the play, falls to former American Idol contestant Chris Daughtry. The role of Pontius Pilate, the Roman, will be played by “Kiss From a Rose” song-writer-and-singer Seal. As for Jesus’s mother, the virgin Mary, country-singer Trisha Yearwood will take that part, and Latin-rapper Prince Royce will play one of the twelve Apostles, Peter.
Unlike most musicals, which generally pick a venue and manipulate the sets of the stage to fit the guise of a changing environment, The Passion will use the whole city of New Orleans as the backdrop to this timely story. A crowd of several hundred will carry a behemoth illuminated cross through the streets, beginning at the Superdome. It can be assumed that the characters will act and sing in various stops around the Crescent City until the show all comes to a conclusion on the shores of the Mississippi River.
For Perry, who not only helped create this show but will also host and narrate it tonight, New Orleans was the obvious choice for his show’s setting. The actor and producer told Deadline that the city was not just a coming home for him.
“There is no better setting than New Orleans, it’s the perfect setting. Of course it’s also what I grew up with,” said Perry. “Every Easter Sunday -– it’s a huge thing in every Christian church, but in the Black church especially. Everyone got new clothes, new shoes, hats. Even to this day, the church is just filled with people, there are plays about the Resurrection and His life, and the stories were preached from pulpits.”
This will be Fox’s second live musical in 2016, tailing the successful Grease: Live back in January.
The two-hour musical will of course begin and air tonight at 8pm and will conclude at 10, but there’s good news for anyone who will miss it because they’re busy finishing up St. Patrick’s Day weekend.Netflix announced on Friday that they’ll be adding the show in its entirety to their streaming service on Tuesday, March 22nd, right in time for those looking forward to Easter to stash it in their queue.