'The Passion' Puts a Musical Spin on the Last Days of Jesus

Singer Michael W. Smith shares how the show modernizes the story of Christ and how filming it has changed his life. 

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- Posted on Mar 18, 2016

Chris Daughtry and Trisha Yearwood star in The Passion.

Fox is readying to launch their latest live-programming event The Passion and it’s like nothing we’ve seen on TV before.

The two-hour musical tells the story of the last hours of Jesus Christ through a modern lens, using the city of New Orleans as a backdrop. Hosted and narrated by Tyler Perry with a cast that includes recording artist JenCarlos Canela, Chris Daughtry, Trisha Yearwood and Seal, the live event is a mix between mini-movie, a musical and a newscast with real reporters interviewing the hundreds of volunteers from across the country who will be carrying a supersized illuminated cross through the French Quarter to the city’s superdome.

When contemporary Christian singer Michael W. Smith heard about the project, he knew he had to be involved. He connected with Nashville buddy Robert Deaton who’d been tapped to direct and the two found a part for him in the production, playing a disciple of Jesus.

“This whole thing has been life-changing for me,” the musician tells Guideposts.org.

Smith taped most of his contribution months ago – the logistics of moving a group of actors across various parts of a city as large as New Orleans meant there wouldn’t be enough time between commercial breaks to film each scene live.

The actor shared that the experience deeply affected his own faith.

“I just realized the humanity of who Jesus was and how he loved these guys, these disciples, and how he was deeply in love with the world,” Smith says.

He also explained how the show plans to bring a 2,000 year old story to the 21st century.

“Everything that’s said is right out of the Bible. They haven’t taken any liberties there to make it hip or cool,” Smith says. “But we’re singing a song on a boardwalk beside the Mississippi River. We’re having a latte at a coffee shop. It’s like if Jesus came back in 2016; no ropes or sandals.”

Sandals being swapped for Jordans isn’t the only change that makes this re-telling unique. The musical also features hits you’ll hear on the radio.

“At first I scratched my head; pop music and the last days of Christ? Then I read the script and I listened to the songs and it all just works,” Smith says.

The singer hopes the show can leave its mark on viewers.

“I hope it will reconnect people with why they’re here. There’s a lot of people that don’t have purpose, that are jaded. I hope people will go, ‘Maybe I’m not here by mistake. Maybe God really has a call for my life.’”

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