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‘The Passion’ Live Blog: Find Out About the Surprises and Songs of Fox’s Jesus Christ Musical (Updating Live)

Hallelujah! Jesus (Jencarlos Canela) ate at a food truck, clung to a fence and mounted a building in Fox’s The Passion, a live musical event broadcast from New Orleans on Sunday, March 20. Don’t get it twisted, though: Jesus wasn’t the only superstar (oops, wrong musical!). Mary (Trisha Yearwood) brought the ballads, Judas (Chris Daughtry) delivered the drama and host Tyler Perry presented the whole thing via the live broadcast from his hometown. 

Trisha Yearwood
Trisha Yearwood rehearses on stage for ‘The Passion’ at Woldenberg Park on March 19, 2016, in New Orleans, LA. Trisha Yearwood rehearses onstage for 'The Passion' at Woldenberg Park on March 19, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Read Us Weekly‘s full #ThePassionLive blog below for all the highlights, including the most emotional moments and musical performances.

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10:01 p.m. ET: The last moments of the broadcast showed the cast getting down to a jazzy version of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” They were all smiles, and you would never guess they just pulled off performing a live two-hour, emotionally exhausting musical in famous locations all around New Orleans. Clearly, they made it look easy in the Big Easy!

9:57 p.m. ET: Let your colors burst! The show ended with Jesus and the choir singing Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally.” As the camera showed sweeping shots of New Orleans at night, Jesus appeared atop a nearby building dressed in all white, singing the hit tune’s lyrics, “Acceptance is the key to be, to be truly free. Will you do the same for me? ‘Cause I love you unconditionally.”

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9:52 p.m. ET: He is risen! Tyler Perry explained to the crowd that after the crucifixion, which was long and painful, Jesus was wrapped in a shroud and placed in a tomb. Three days later, he wasn’t in there. Perry told the crowd and Us at home that by rising from the dead, Jesus proved his love for the world and that while we could all believe whatever we want religion-wise, Jesus’ idea of a hate-free world is one we should all aspire to make a reality.

9:43 p.m. ET: After a shocking and graphic explanation of crucifixion, courtesy of Tyler Perry, Mary sang Lifehouse’s “Broken” as she stood next to the gigantic lighted cross, which had finally completed its journey through the city. Some audience members were so moved that they lifted their arms skyward.

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9:37 p.m. ET: The crowd demanded that Jesus be crucified, and Pontius Pilate agreed to it, saying it wouldn’t be right for a governing official not to heed the wishes of the people. As Jesus was marched away by the guards — and here, we must give big ups to Jencarlos Canela (Jesus) for actually crying real tears — Pilate despairingly sang “Mad World” by Tears for Fears. (It gave Us major Donnie Darko flashbacks, too — don’t worry!)

9:31 p.m. ET: Pontius Pilate shrugged, renouncing culpability for Jesus’ condemnation, and then the two of them totally bodied their duet of Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome).”

9:24 p.m. ET: The “Pilate” episode was next! Jesus was hauled front and center at Woldenberg Park, where the audience was gathered to watch the musical on large screens. Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, he answered Pontius Pilate (Seal) when he asked, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Pontius Pilate explained that every year, he released one prisoner at the request of the crowd. When he called upon them to release either Jesus or Barabbas, a murderer, they chose Barabbas, even though Pontius Pilate had told them that Jesus was guilty of no crime that he could see. 

9:13 p.m. ET: Peter — who was told he would deny knowing Jesus three different times following the leader’s arrest — ran around the city, paranoid and terrified that everyone blamed him for what happened to the Messiah. To prove how emotional the situation was making him, he sang “The Reason” by Hoobastank. He only stopped singing long enough to, well, deny knowing Jesus to three different people who asked. 

As his best friend pretended he never met him, Jesus comforted a fellow prisoner, telling him that an eternal reward was waiting for him in heaven.

9:02 p.m. ET: Shots of Jesus praying under the bridge flickered in and out. During one of those scenes, the cops rolled up, Judas in tow. Judas leaned in and kissed Jesus on the cheek. Then they broke out into a duet of “Demons” by Imagine Dragons. Bonus points to Judas for slyly nailing the “I am hell-bound” line, since, you know, betraying the Son of God is definitely one way to make that statement true.  

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8:57 p.m. ET: She’s yours! Once again, Mary sang to the crowd gathered in the park. This time, as night fell around the audience, she belted “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz

8:52 p.m. ET: Don’t fence him in! Jesus sang “Calling All Angels” dramatically from under a bridge. When he grabbed a nearby chain-link fence in angst, his choreography was truly complete, and when he prayed out loud, begging God to alleviate his suffering, it was pretty deep. The audience at Woldenberg Park watched the projection screens quietly. Some looked like they might be crying.

8:46 p.m. ET: Perhaps Judas just wants to shop at Hot Topic? Indeed, he sang the tune that defined your middle school years, Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life.” (It was a solid song choice, since Judas is basically that fake friend who came to your 14th birthday party but then took your crush to the spring dance like a week later.) He walked around an abandoned warehouse as he contemplated whether he would remain loyal or go through with betraying Jesus for a little money.

8:41 p.m. ET: God bless the U.S.A.! Once the lighted cross got to the French Quarter (which you may recognize — or not recognize — from that time you partied in NoLa on spring break), there was another interview with a member of the crowd. This time, the man being interviewed referenced his military service as one of the things that compelled him to carry the cross through town. The next interviewee was a woman whose son was lost to a senseless act of violence three years ago tomorrow. She said she was marching for “justice, peace and healing” for her son. 

8:35 p.m. ET: Drama, drama, drama! Jesus told his friends that he knew one of them would betray him. Meanwhile, Mary was on hand back at Woldenberg Park to sing Jewel’s “Hands” as she contemplated what it meant for her son to be so near persecution and death. 

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In interviews before the show aired, Tyler Perry defended his use of secular songs in the production because the themes of kindness and unconditional love are universal. This was evident as Mary sang, “In the end, only kindness matters.” 

8:29 p.m. ET: Behold, the wisdom of Scott StappAfter taking his bread from the truck, Jesus passed it out to his friends in the famous Last Supper, telling them to eat it as his flesh, drink their wine as his blood and remember him whenever they did so in the future. Then he went into a decently moving rendition of Creed’s “With Arms Wide Open.” Modern-day Jesus is full of surprises, huh?

8:26 p.m. ET: It was a strange sight to see Jesus ordering from a food truck, but that’s what happened next because this whole musical was set in the present day! 

8:21 p.m. ET: Audience interaction! One of the coolest things about this production was the way that the individuals carrying the cross through New Orleans were pulled aside and interviewed. They were asked why they volunteered to help out and gave touching answers. The first to be interviewed was a man named Archer, who spoke about the cross as a symbol of hope in the post-Katrina city.

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8:18 p.m. ET: Jesus asked his disciples what the word on the street was about him. All of them relayed suggestions they’d heard, but only Peter (Prince Royce) correctly identified Jesus as the Son of God, causing Jesus to call him “a rock.” (The dialogue was written by Peter Barsocchini, who did script work on High School Musical, but he adapted it all straight from the Bible itself!) After that, Jesus sang “Home” to Peter. The original singer, Phillip Phillips, is an American Idol alum, just like tonight’s Judas, Chris Daughtry.

8:14 p.m. ET: “Something special is in the air as New Orleans becomes our Jerusalem,” Tyler Perry said by way of explaining why he selected his hometown as the backdrop of the story. Then, Jesus (Jencarlos Canela) began singing, “Love Can Move Mountains.” He was soon joined by the entire cast for a killer opening ensemble number.

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8:11 p.m ET: After the song was over, Perry explained that a procession of hundreds would be taking a gigantic, lighted cross from the Superdome to Woldenberg Park, the place from which he was narrating and the choir was singing. He introduced all of the members of the cast, ending with Trisha Yearwood, who plays Mary, Jesus’ mother. 

Dressed in a gorgeous blue gown, Yearwood sang Whitney Houston’s “My Love is Your Love.” The camera panned over the crowd, and everyone was smiling, dancing and singing with her. 

8:06 p.m. ET: Narrator Tyler Perry opened the musical with this: “It’s a story about friendship, betrayal, faith and forgiveness, right?” he asked. “Ultimately, The Passion is about the power of love,” he said as he introduced Yolanda Adams to sing “When Love Takes Over.” In a sparkly wrap dress, she killed the song as a gospel choir backed her up, and crowds gathered in the streets of New Orleans to dance and clap along. Off to a great start!

8 p.m. ET: The greatest story ever told — with pop songs! Fox’s latest live musical production, The Passion, is set to offer a present-day retelling of the end of Jesus’ life, and Us Weekly is live-blogging the Palm Sunday event for an up-to-the-minute recap on Sunday, March 20. Keep refreshing this post throughout the event for live updates.

Tell Us: What did you think of The Passion?

The Passion aired live on Fox on Sunday, March 20, at 8 p.m. ET. 

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