Mark Burnett and Roma Downey to produce live Nativity musical


Are live musical versions of popular Bible stories the next big thing?

Last month, we learned that the Fox network will be airing The Passion, a modernized take on the death and resurrection of Jesus, on Palm Sunday (March 20).

Now comes word that Mark Burnett and Roma Downey — producers of The Bible, Son of God and A.D. The Bible Continues — are hopping on the bandwagon with a live musical of their own based on the Nativity. TV Insider reports:

“This is something we looked at last year, a big live stage performance around the Nativity, something that is near and dear to my and Roma’s hearts,” Burnett says. “A lot of contemporary music fits the Nativity, but also traditional music.”

Burnett and Downey will executive produce the Nativity event along with The Voice’s Audrey Morrissey and Stijn Bakkers. Burnett is producing via MGM Television and Digital Group, where he is now president.

Morrissey, in particular, has a great deal of experience producing live musical events such as the MTV Video Music Awards and the CMT Music Awards.

“We like the fact that she has produced rock concerts,” says Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of alternative and late night programming. “We want to give the Nativity story an interesting twist.”

Unlike other recent and upcoming live musicals, all of which are based on established hits like Hairspray or The Sound of Music, the Bible-themed musicals seem to be quasi-original shows that will repurpose existing songs. Can it be long, though, before we start seeing live productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and its ilk?

Meanwhile, in related news, the producers of The Passion have announced that Trisha Yearwood will play Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Prince Royce will play Peter.

There is no word yet on what songs The Passion will use, but Deadline did quote executive producer Mark Bracco saying that the producers are “trying to tell the story as inclusively as possible, whether you are a believer or [someone who] wants to hear Trisha Yearwood sing a Whitney Houston song,” which might give us a hint.

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