New York – The last living hours of Jesus of Nazareth will get a modern-day retelling with the city of New Orleans and and array of pop music as a backdrop.
“The Passion,” a two-hour musical event that will air live Sunday night on Fox, follows Jesus as he presides over the Last Supper, is betrayed by Judas, and then put to trial, convicted and crucified.
Cuban-American star Jencarlos Canela has been tapped to play the lead role – a part which he said is an honor to do.
I feel they are telling [Jesus'] story no longer to one specific group. Now they are telling it to the world and to my generation which is extremely important to me.
“This is a story, whether you are religious or not, that I think the world really needs to hear right now," he told Fox News Latino recently. "And when I say the world, I’m including myself,” he told Fox News Latino recently.
“Whether you are believer or not, you can’t deny that Jesus and his word changed the world we live in,” he said.
Bachata singer Prince Royce as Peter, rocker Chris Daughtry as Judas, country singer Trisha Yearwood as Mary and British singer-songwriter Seal as the infamous Pontius Pilate – the man who convicts Jesus – round out the star-studded cast.
The event will be hosted by New Orleans native and filmmaker Tyler Perry and will include opening and closing numbers by gospel singer Yolanda Adams.
"There's so much negativity on TV and film that I had to be a part of something that's going to encourage and uplift," Perry told the Associated Press recently. "Love and compassion is at the heart of this story."
The Miami-born Canela, 25, said that while there is definitely a modern twist to their storytelling, it keeps the “biblical sense of it.”
“They are just surrounding it with modern elements, modern songs that we love, that we know,” he told FNL. “In that way, I feel, they are telling the story no longer to one specific group. Now they are telling it to the world and to my generation which is extremely important to me.”
Parts of the event will be staged live in New Orleans, including a procession of hundreds of people carrying a 20-foot, illuminated cross from Champion Square outside the Superdome to a stage at Woldenberg Park on the banks of the Mississippi River.
The soundtrack includes songs ranging from Imagine Dragons' "Demons" and Tina Turner's "We Don't Need Another Hero," to Hoobastank's "The Reason and Celine Dion's "Love Can Move Mountains."
Canela and Daughtry pair up for “Demons” in the scene in which Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss.
"These are modern songs with a message that are very powerful and emotional. Despite your background or beliefs, the basis of the story is universal — love, compassion, acceptance and forgiving," Daughtry told the AP.
Canela, who is currently working on his first English-language album, told FNL that the story of “The Passion” is magical.
“It’s a story about hope, about love, about betrayal, about believing in people no matter what and not letting the darkness or the mistakes or others' weaknesses get the best of you and to be forgiving, fill your heart with love,” he said. “We need that now more than ever.”