Fox Staging The Passion, Live: How Trisha Yearwood, Imagine Dragons and NOLA Will Tell Jesus' Story

Fox’s staging of The Passion — a live, musical event that originated years ago in Holland — will use Trisha Yearwood’s pipes, music from Whitney Houston and others, and iconic New Orleans locations to tell the tale of Jesus’ final hours.

Written by Peter Barsocchini (High School Musical) and airing live from New Orleans on Palm Sunday, March 20, The Passion has Yearwood playing Mary, the mother of Jesus, while Latin pop star Prince Royce will play the disciple Peter. Jesus, who also sings, has yet to be cast but “we’ve narrowed in on someone I hope we’ll be announcing relatively shortly,” executive producer Mark Bracco said Friday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour.

Already a year-and-a-half in the planning, the musical will unfold at several iconic New Orleans locations — including the carrying a 20-foot cross from outside the Superdome to the main stage at Woldenburg Park, on the banks of the Mississippi River.

“It’s so different from anything else that’s been done on television,” said Tyler Perry, who serves as both an EP and as the live production’s narrator.

Unlike, say, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Passion not only features familiar, popular music but also contemporary wardrobe, and it makes no attempt to camouflage its setting. For example, Jesus’ procession with the cross could very well be interrupted by a firetruck racing to an emergency. And when he is arrested, it is by cops in police cars. Afterward, Jesus dons an orange prison jumpsuit.

The broadcast will take place rain or shine, said The Passion creator Jacco Doornbos, who shared that for Holland’s first four stagings, they enjoyed great weather — before getting slammed by a storm in Year 5. “But it turned out great, and even more emotional,” he said.

“That’s all part of the live excitement,” he added. “Anything can happen.”

Exec producer Adam Anders said Fox’s version will use “big, hit songs that everybody knows… in a completely new context” — such as when Imagine Dragons’ “Demons” scores Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, or when Mary sings Whitney Houston’s “My Love Is Your Love.”

“We’re just telling the story as it is, translating through music and emotions,” said Doornbos.

Has The Passion piqued your interest?

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  1. herman1959 says:

    I’m really looking forward to this. Tyler Perry has a lot experience staging musicals, so the fact that he is an EP as well as the narrator is all to the good.

  2. #blessed says:

    And at the end, Jesus was all like, “BRB!”

  3. Sara says:

    This sounds like a complete and utter hot mess.

  4. c-mo says:

    Love the idea of this story being told in a modern setting!

  5. Drew says:

    I don’t trust any network to do this right. If it isn’t made for the right reasons, it will be offensive. So will they avoid making some political or social message? Or will they try drawing parallels between Jesus and some new headline?
    So many religious films turn out badly because they’re not made from the right mindset. Somehow, I don’t see Fox delivering the next truly touching Christian event.

    • Ann says:

      True, but I don’t think someone like Trisha Yearwood would take part in this musical if she thought it was offensive. She’d be insulting her Country fan base, which is probably mostly Southern Christians.

      • Ann says:

        Plus, Tyler Perry does a lot of Christian-themed movies and a lot of African-Americans respect him for that, so I don’t think he would be executive producing this show if he thought it was offensive either. So, it’s a good bet this show will be good-hearted. I’m excited about this. Never heard of this musical, but the concept sounds interesting.

        • Drew says:

          It will definitely be worth checking out. It will just be a very hard sell. Especially with the modern approach. I might check it out, but it definitely won’t be something that I’ll be excited about. I will approach it like a live grenade until I know the end result. :-)

  6. Marcie says:

    Seriously? It’s 2 months away and they haven’t cast Jesus?

  7. Temperance says:

    Ugh, the last thing we need is more religious brainwashing… and on TV, it’s the worst.

    • Drew says:

      How is it brainwashing? Unless you are very, very easily swayed. I mean, to the point where any exposure to commercials for something religious will instantly make you give up all of your beliefs and become a monk. Or is it more that you don’t feel it proper to have anything on TV that you don’t agree with?

      • Temperance says:

        Perhaps you should do some reading on the subject. And it suggest it’s ‘just one TV show’ is absurd to the extreme (especially when 24-7-365 media saturation with Christian religion in the norm). What should happen is American values – enjoy your religious freedom and keep it to yourself! There is a reason young people are fleeing organized religion in droves, and this type of thing is part of the reason.

    • herman1959 says:

      Don’t watch…brainwashing problem solved.

  8. MM says:

    Seriously, the procession from the Superdome to Woldenburg Park live? What could possibly go wrong? They’ll be lucky if it isn’t interrupted by a gang shoot-out, and the cops will be there for more than just arresting Jesus.

  9. Jan says:

    I’ll definitely check it, if for no other reason than to hear Trisha sing. Plus, I’m intrigued.

  10. man.with.a.pan says:

    I’m Dutch and watched it once, it’s just Jezus Christ Superstar in a modern setting, nothing original about it. It’s a big hit in the Netherlands, think it will do fine in the States.

  11. Me says:

    I watched ” The Passion” until the “police” scene. Enough is enough! Ridiculous!

  12. Me says:

    I watched “The Passion” until the “police” scene. Enough is enough! Ridiculous!

  13. M. Butler says:

    Thank you Fox4 the airing of this program. Will you air it again, soon? For those who feel imposed upon by this presentation, there are channel changers, and off buttons. In these United States, with this program, there is Freedom. Fox4, thanks again.