It’s time for another live TV production for everyone on the Internet to comment on! We’ve previously covered The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, The Wiz, Grease: Live! and now we’re giving our thoughts on everyone’s favorite musical, The Passion. Although it’s technically not a musical, but more of a story with music.
What even is The Passion? It’s basically the story of the final days of Jesus’ life. This passion play has been done for years around the world, but this specific show is derived from a British TV production, where celebrities paraphrase certain Bible passages which tell the story of Easter, and in between, they sing live performances of pop songs relevant to the story. Meanwhile, a group of people carry a huge cross towards the main stage in the center square where all the action takes place.
The Passion has been huge in The Netherlands over the past few years, and each year it takes place in a different city. In the American version,
Tyler Perry’s The Passion took place in New Orleans on Sunday, which was Palm Sunday aka the Sunday before Easter. Whether you’re a believer or not, there’s still a lot to talk about regarding the actual show, so here are some questions, comments, and concerns that came up while watching this musical event for the first time.
Question: What is this stage?
It looks like it could double as Justin Bieber’s latest tour stage.
Concern: This is not a play
Apparently this show is more of a presentation than a theatrical play. I thought it was more along the lines of telling the Easter story with music, but according to Tyler Perry, it’s not. He is the emcee/host/storyteller/narrator of this show, and I also didn’t realize he was going to be doing an opening monologue and continuously explain what’s happening or what’s about to happen. He starts on the Bieber stage in the middle of New Orleans’ Woldenberg Park, and at one point, he’s trying to get through his speech but people start cheering and he pauses to let them continue cheering. It’s… weird? He also says, “…As New Orleans becomes our Jersusalem” there are more cheers from the crowd, who are v excited to see their city turned into the big JC’s hometown.
Comment: Yolanda Adams is serving Jesus chic in this dress
Gospel singer Yolanda Adams sings the first song of the night, When Love Takes Over, originally by David Guetta and Kelly Rowland. I guess it works.
Comment: I’m thrown by the pre-taped packages
Tyler Perry throws to the huge video screens which show Jesus (Jencarlos Canela) rolling with his crew aka the disciples featuring Prince Royce (Peter), Chris Daughtry (Judas) and Christian singer Michael W. Smith (misc. disciple) singing Celine Dion’s Love Can Move Mountains. They’re initially on a famous New Orleans trolley and make their way to some large park and it’s clear this was one of the pre-taped segments for the show. I’m still trying to get my head wrapped around what’s happening. Like there are these folks on the trolley who I think are acting as if Jencarlos is Jesus, but the folks near Tyler Perry are regular audience members. So I guess the Bieber stage is present day and everywhere else is “Jerusalem”? Does it even matter that I have to delineate which one is which?
Question: Is Tyler Perry going to keep telling us what’s about to happen?
Is it necessary to give a character breakdown of all the people in this show? Tyler Perry gives a brief description of the main players in JC’s crucifixion story, but I feel like we can figure it out? But I guess if no one’s saying lines describing what happened in makes sense? And I get that if people are tuning in and not familiar with the Bible/this story and have no idea who the “characters” involved in this story are, you have to explain it… but why are they watching anyways?
Comment: I see you Pontious Pilate
Comment: Tricia Yearwood is still a solid singer
Trisha is playing the role of JC’s mom Mary. By “playing” I mean Tyler Perry tells me she’s Mary and Trisha sings a song describing how Mary felt towards her son Jesus. On the bright side, I will say it’s hard to cover a Whitney song and be good at it but Trisha’s doing My Love Is Your Love justice.
Concern: All of the disciples’ scenes are possibly pre-taped
We cut to JC and his disciples in a coffee shop and JC is all, ‘Yo Peter, you gonna be the main man to build this whole Christianity thang’ and Peter’s all… ‘Imma dip out byeeeeee’.
Comment: This is giving me Left Behind vibes
Right now, I feel like I’m watching a Christian movie and Kirk Cameron is going to pop up at any second.
Concern: Jesus is… offputting
Is it horrible that I do not care for the way Jencarlos is playing Jesus right now? It feels forced and he has a hint of cockiness to how he’s playing it, and I don’t like it one bit.
Comment: Cross bearers are part of a glorified news report
Throughout the show, a giant illuminated cross is being carried through the city with more and more people joining the group as they go along the route. Joining them is Nischelle Turner, who is a reporter on Entertainment Tonight – I only know this because I have to watch ET every day but they didn’t mention it during the show. She’s basically like the man on the ground with the cross bearers and talking with some of them as they go. So that’s a thing we didn’t see in Grease: Live!
Comment: “Celebrity” cameos are happening
Jesus goes up to a food truck and asks for loaves and fishes (see: parable). Top Chef alum and The Chew host Carla Hall works on the Fish & Bread (???) truck and happily gives it to him, but did we need a cameo from a familiar face in this?
Comment: No one likes Creed
Jesus is singing Creed’s With Arms Wide Open during The Last Supper but I think JC would still be on the side of most people by saying Creed isn’t the best.
Concern: Time is going slowly
Trisha Yearwood is currently singing contemporary pop hit Hands by Jewel and legit I feel like I’ve been watching this for 2 hours but it’s only been 30 minutes.
Comment: The cross just went down Bourbon Street
The illuminated cross was brought down New Orleans’ famous Bourbon Street, which if you don’t know is home to a bunch of bars and a lot of Mardi Gras celebrations. So that’s a first. Nischelle interviewed a man who is in the military and also a woman whose teenage son was killed due to violence, so in addition to the Christian story they’re telling, they’re also incorporating social issues. Tyler Perry made a few (horrible) jokes too. I’m just so confused as to what this whole thing is.
Question: Why is Judas singing Evanescence in an empty factory
Judas is having some internal struggles while he battles betraying Jesus, so he decides to since Bring Me To Life by Evanescence in a dark, empty, creepy factory building. I find it impressive yet unnerving due to the location, but Tyler Perry has a different response, saying of the (pre-taped) scene, “Wow, I believe he’s in turmoil.”
Comment: The audience is feelin it
A lot of the audience members are really feeling the show and are getting emotional. It looks like it could be a scene from Jesus Camp. But then there are some who are the folks who constantly are aware they’re on TV and wave every chance they get.
Comment: Jesus Christ: The Unauthorized Musical
I just realized the best way to describe this show – an unauthorized musical about the final days of Jesus’ life. Remember how a couple of producers in LA have made the Unauthorized Cruel Intentions musical and the Unauthorized The O.C. musical (which I pitched songs for) and the upcoming Unauthorized Friday Night Lights musical? This is what that is. Retelling a story with the characters singing “modern” pop songs is exactly what The Passion is and I wish I truly understood that before I watched this.
Question: Why is it taking so long for Judas to kiss Jesus
Honestly, there’s no time for singing. He needs to betray him immediately. I will say that this is a powerful scene with the police taking Jesus away while the other disciples fight back and an eerie reminder this is what’s happening in America and not just fictionalized Jerusalem.
Comment: Lil Wayne tho
This commercial featuring Lil Wayne just aired and I am dying. He’s actually really funny! And maybe the most entertaining part of this show!
Question: Where is Hoobastank?
Because they’re still getting royalties off The Reason 12 years later and honestly, good for them. But was I missing Hoobastank in my life? No.
Concern: How heavy is this cross tho?
I know a bunch of folks are carrying the cross and the weight is distributed evenly, but still, it can’t be easy to carry a large illuminated cross for 2 miles.
Comment: A real musical in a faux musical
Trisha’s singing You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel and I’d honestly rather watch Carousel right now.
Comment: Seal as Pontius Pilate
Jesus is in custody and brought to the Bieber stage for the first time since the show started an hour and a half ago. Seal also shows up as Pontius Pilate and I’ve always thought that if Seal played a villain it wouldn’t be a stretch. Also, they’re singing a song I’ve never heard before called We Don’t Need Another Hero, which is apparently by Tina Turner for Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
Comment: I think I’m biased against Seal
Remember last week when I said Kiss From a Rose was overplayed and I ended up hating it because of its heavy rotation? I think that has made me subconsciously dislike Seal and throughout his entire rendition of Mad World, I tuned out.
Question: Is Lifehouse a Christian band?
Trisha Yearwood is singing Lifehouse’s Broken, which is not only a song I’ve never heard of but, seamlessly fits as a song Mary sings as she says goodbye to her son. It’s such a good match that I’m wondering if Lifehouse made a foray into Christian music.
Comment: Tyler Perry has confidence
The way pastor Tyler Perry is talking and saying how “amazing” the show is makes it seem like he’s overly confident like he is well aware all of America is watching and tweeting about this show right now. Update: 6.61 million people tuned in to see The Passion, which is way down from when Fox did Grease: Live in January. To put it in perspective, more people watched Steve Harvey’s new kid talent show Little Big Shots than The Passion.
Question: Is Jesus about to pull a Michael Scott?
After the crucifixion (that Tyler Perry described to us instead of it being acted out), Jesus rises from the dead and Jencarlos shows up on the roof of a building overlooking the Bieber stage and the reveal of his location is legit like Michael Scott going on roof of Dunder Mifflin and threatening to jump. Also, it’s really windy which is a bit concerning.
Comment: I guess that was ok
I think the main problem is that although I knew what the idea of the show was, I still thought it was going to be more like Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar. Not to say it was horrible. You know who probably really liked this show? My parents. My parents who are super in the big JC and are probably talking about it like we talk about the last episode of Scandal. So, glad they finally have a TV program to chat about.