‘The Passion’ Live, Palm Sunday on Fox: Should Your Family Watch?

Prince-Royce-Peter-The-PassionTo answer the question in the title — honestly, I can’t tell you.

“The Passion” could be amazing. It could be awful. It could be, meh. We won’t know until it happens live on Fox, at 8 p.m. EDT (tape-delayed at 8 p.m. PDT; and as with most live events, there will probably be a lag even on the live broadcast), on Sunday, March 20 — Palm Sunday.

In terms of production details, here’s what I know so far. From Fox:

THE PASSION, written by Peter Barsocchini (“High School Musical”), tells the 2,000-year-old story of the last hours of Jesus Christ’s life on earth through passages from the Bible and a variety of contemporary popular music, sung by the cast, and arranged specifically for this event by executive producer and hit music producer Adam Anders (“Glee,” “Rock of Ages”). Set in modern day, the event will follow the dramatic and inspirational story of 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 event will unfold live at some of New Orleans’ most iconic locations, while featuring a procession of a thousand people carrying a 20-foot, illuminated cross from outside the Mercedes Benz Superdome to the live stage at Woldenberg Park on the banks of the Mississippi River.

THE PASSION stars Jencarlos Canela (Jesus Christ), Chris Daughtry (Judas), Prince Royce (the disciple Peter), Seal (Pontius Pilate) and Trisha Yearwood (Mary, the mother of Jesus). Tyler Perry will serve as host and narrator, and Grammy Award-winning singer Yolanda Adams will perform a special opening number.

And the social links:

Like THE PASSION on Facebook at facebook.com/FOXTV.

Follow the event on Twitter @FOXTV, and join the discussion using #ThePassionLive.

See photos and videos on Instagram @FOXTV/.

And the online info:

Viewers in 17 select markets  will have the opportunity to stream THE PASSION broadcast LIVE on Fox.com and FOX NOW mobile apps using their iOS or Android devices. Just sign in with your participating cable, satellite or telco provider credentials to experience this inspirational musical event in real time! Our exclusive FOX NOW pre-show will stream in the Pacific time zone at 7:30 PM local time, followed by a simulcast of the local broadcast at 8 PM. Our exclusive FOX NOW pre-show for THE PASSION starts at 7:30/6:30c, followed by the live simulcast at 8/7c. Streams will run at the same time as the show airs in each local market.

Click here for more detailed information, but the markets are:

  • Atlanta (WAGA)
  • Austin, Texas (KTBC)
  • Charlotte/Belmont, NC (WJZY)
  • Chicago (WFLD)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth (KDFW)
  • Detroit (WJBK)
  • Gainesville/Ocala, FL (WOGX)
  • Houston (KRIV)
  • Los Angeles (KTTV)
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul (KMSP)
  • New York City (WNYW)
  • Orlando/Daytona Beach (WOFL)
  • Philadelphia (WTXF)
  • Phoenix (KSAZ)
  • San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose (KTVU)
  • Tampa/St. Petersberg (WTVT)
  • Washington DC (WTTG)

OK, basically this means that, even if you’re in the Pacific time zone, you won’t be able to watch it actually LIVE online, but still on tape-delay. The show will be a mix of pre-taped and live elements, which includes a procession of people carrying a big lighted Cross (that’s in the video below; probably a scene taken from the original Netherlands productions of “The Passion.” Yes, the Netherlands — which is one of Europe’s most secularized countries, but apparently it’s been quite popular there).

Here’s what one 2013 article about the Dutch production said:

Three years in a row now, famous Dutch entertainers – actors, singers, comedians – have participated in a musical performance of the Passion of Jesus. Using secular pop songs, yet sticking quite closely to the biblical text, the Passion is a joint venture by Dutch Christian television stations, the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, the Roman Catholic Church and the Dutch Bible Society, but also supported by secular stations NOS Journal, Goede Tijden Slechte Tijden, Blik op de Weg and Half Acht News on RTL. The performance is free, live and takes place across various urban sites.

So, far, so good. If you’re familiar with New Orleans, here is the street route that’s marked off for Sunday’s procession (courtesy NOLA.com/Times-Picayune):

City officials define the route like so: “The procession will begin on Perdido St. at Duncan Plaza, continue toward Loyola Ave. turning left, continue on Elk Place, turn right on Canal St., turn left on Burgundy St., turn right on Conti Street, turn left on Royal St., turn right on St. Ann St., turn right on Chartres St., turn left on St. Peter St., turn right on Decatur St., continue on N. Peters St., turn left on Bienville St. and continue toward Woldenberg Park where the procession will end.”

In a piece in Time magazine, here’s what Perry had to say:

I wasn’t worried about anything other than being true to the actual story in the Bible. And once I read the script, I knew it was accurate, and once I sent it to many pastors and they saw it and thought that it was accurate, I was in. That is what is always important to me, to make sure it is true to the word of God.

To sum up, I recommend …

If you’re in Eastern time, and you’re worried that someone in the household might have issues with the content — or if you want to be there when they watch it, or want to pre-screen it — put it on the DVR or VCR, or wait to see if it’s available afterward on On Demand, or if Fox repeats it.

There will also be a lot of live-tweeting at @ThePassionLive and @FOXTV, and if you’re waiting a few minutes to get into the show on the DVR, check out Twitter to see what the official tweets are saying or what the reactions are.

In later time zones, you can, again, watch Twitter — especially feeds of people whose takes on faith you respect — and see what they’re saying as the Eastern time feed airs. Sadly, we here at @FamilyTheater1 are in Pacific time, so unlike the Academy Awards, I won’t be able to live-tweet during the original broadcast.

But, if things look good, I’ll swing in for the Pacific time feed, and you can check in to see what I think. Also, if it looks not-so-good, I’ll say so on our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Here’s hoping it turns out to be both entertaining and faithful!

Image: Prince Royce as Peter; courtesy Fox.

Visit the Family Theater Productions homepage and Facebook page to learn more about how FTP is reaching out to Hollywood and producing its own projects.