On Palm Sunday (March 20th), the Fox network brought a live reactment of "The Passion." With a huge electric cross, a cast of stars and a budget of $11 million, the live national broadcast tells the story of Jesus Christ's final hours, to the streets of New Orleans on Palm Sunday. Hosted by actor Tyler Perry, the show was backed by a jubilant gospel choir and live orchestra.
The performers were dressed in contemporary attire (Jesus will be costumed in an orange jailhouse jumpsuit at one point late in the story) and the performers covered pop hits that fit the context of the story. The songs were arranged by Adam Anders, who, in addition to serving as executive music producer for Fox's "Glee," has written and produced for the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus and the Backstreet Boys.
"It's incredible, when we start looking through the U.S. pop catalog, how many spiritual undertones there are, because most artists have a spirituality to them, and the songs are written from those moments in their lives," said Anders, who said he plans a "surprise" nod to New Orleans' musical legacy during the broadcast. "It's incredible how you can tie those songs into the moments."
The show began with Kelly Rowland andDavid Guetta's mega-hit "When Love Takes Over," sung by gospel singer Yolanda Adams to open the show from the main stage. Next up, the story kicked in as Jesus and his apostles filed into Jerusalem. The Passion cast performed Celine Dion's "Love Can Move Mountains" to announce the opening of the familiar story.
Then, Yearwood belted her first solo song, as she announced Mary's presence with Whitney Houston's "My Love Is Your Love" from the main stage. Jencarlos sang Creed's "With Arms Wide Open" and the Christian rock mega-hit became a prelude to Jesus' revelation that one of his closest friends would betray him. This was manifested in Daughtry singingEvanescence's "Bring Me to Life" as his jealousy of Peter led him to sell out Jesus to the Roman authorities. Jencarlos responded with Train's "Calling All Angels" as Jesus remained in the garden with his apostles.
The night took another impassioned turn as Prince Royce sang Hoobastank's "The Reason" as Jesus was taken away by the Roman soldiers. From here, Seal emerged, playing Pontius Pilate, and joined Jencarlos in Tina Turner's "We Don't Need Another Hero," as the Roman citizens elected to crucify Jesus. Seal ended with "Mad World" as the scene gave way to Perry describing the crucifixion in grizzly detail.
But of course, Perry and the cast made sure to end the story on an uplifting note. With the giant cross now carried to the stage, Jencarlos and the backing gospel choir wowed the audience with Katy Perry's "Unconditionally," to proclaim Jesus' rising three days after the execution. And to send off the NOLA crowd, Adams and the Preservation Hall Brass Band ended the night with "When the Saints Go Marching In."