North American TV networks have been experimenting with live musicals lately, from 2013’s The Sound of Music Live! to last month’s The Wiz Live! and next month’s Grease: Live. So it’s not too surprising that the Fox network announced this week that it will air a live musical about the death of Jesus on Palm Sunday (March 20).
What is surprising is that the source material will be not one of the other ’60s or ’70s musicals that is well-known over here, such as Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar, but a Dutch musical that has aired live in the Netherlands every year since 2011.
Here is a clip from the Dutch musical in question:
The American version, which will simply be called The Passion, will be staged in New Orleans and hosted by Tyler Perry, and a press release says it will “feature a cast of today’s biggest stars . . . performing a variety of popular music, arranged by executive producer and hit music producer Adam Anders (‘Glee,’ ‘Rock of Ages’).”
The American musical won’t use the same songs as the Dutch musical, and Anders states in the press release that he is looking forward to creating “new arrangements of some of the biggest songs of all time” — so it seems that the American show won’t have much in common with the Dutch show beyond the basic format.
The musical will also feature a procession in which hundreds of people carry “a 20-foot, illuminated cross”. And to get a sense of what that might look like, check out this ad for a version of the Dutch show that aired on Catholic TV in the U.S.:
So… does anyone want to guess which big pop songs will be repurposed for this show? And whether it will strike a decent balance between the sacred and the secular?
December 21 update: Roger Friedman first reported this back on December 8.
— The photo at the top of this post is from the Catholic TV ad for the Dutch musical.