[Updated March 17 to include street closures]
Did you know that Tyler Perry is mounting a massive Jesus-themed musical event live in New Orleans? He is!
It should be very exciting, or very inconvenient, depending on how you feel about Tyler Perry, musicals, crowds and Christianity. Here is all we know about this thing, so you don't accidentally get caught up in a televised rock-and-roll baptism if that's not what you want to be doing that day.
What is it? In the vein of Grease Live and other recent televised live musical specials, The Passion will air live on Fox on March 20 (Palm Sunday, for all you heathens). And no, it's not a production of Jesus Christ Superstar in which Tyler Perry plays Jesus and all of the apostles (if only). The Passion is a two-hour long musical set in modern times and featuring "today's hits," arranged by music producer Adam Anders, who has worked on Glee and Rock of Ages (Gambit has the full tracklist for the show here). It's a Jesus jukebox musical, basically. Trisha Yearwood, Chris Daughtry, and Seal are some of bigger names of the cast.
The live, immersive format of the show is based on a popular annually airing production in the Netherlands (see a clip from that below). So this could be a yearly thing, everyone.
So it's happening in New Orleans? Where exactly? Yes, New Orleans, a modern-day Galillee. Tyler Perry was born in New Orleans, and wanted to bring The Passion to the city because it "literally rose again" after Katrina.
Scenes in the musical will be performed "on the streets of New Orleans," and judging from promos it seems like it will mostly happen in the downtown area, with a few exceptions.
Yesterday, producers put out a call for volunteers to carry a 20-foot illuminated cross from Champions Square at the Superdome to the production's main stage at Woldenberg Park. As of today, there's a notice on the show's website saying the volunteer casting is now "at capacity."
You can still register to watch the performance at Woldenberg Park, though.
Some Instagram evidence shows scenes being filmed in McDonoghville Cemetery in Gretna and Cafe Envie.
What else can we expect to see, based on the promos/other things we know? Jesus walking on water, Jesus riding a streetcar, Jesus singing "With Arms Wide Open."
How do I avoid this if I want to? The city released a map for the cross procession. Street closures will be in effect 7:20 p.m. until 8:40 p.m. for the live broadcast, as well as for two rehearsals on Friday, March 18 from 7-9 p.m. and Sunday, March 20 from 2-4 p.m.
Anything else? Here's a video of the 10-story stage going up at Woldenberg Park.