Fox's 'The Passion' finds its savior in Jencarlos Canela

Fox announced Thursday that it has found its own personal Jesus, casting Jencarlos Canela as Jesus Christ in the upcoming two-hour musical event “The Passion.”

Written by Peter Barsocchini (“High School Musical”) and arranged by Adam Anders (“Glee,” “Rock of Ages”), “The Passion” is a modern interpretation of the final hours of Jesus Christ’s life, a period that includes the Last Supper, his betrayal by Judas, his trial by Pontius Pilate and subsequent crucifixion and resurrection. The events will be interpreted through passages from the Bible as well as a variety of popular music.

Canela, a singer, songwriter and actor whose work can be seen on NBC’s “Telenovela,” will be joined by “American Idol” alum and multiplatinum artist Chris Daughtry in the role of Judas. Previously announced cast members include host and narrator Tyler Perry, Prince Royce as the disciple Peter and Trisha Yearwood as Mary, mother of Jesus.

“The Passion” is airing live (though delayed on the West Coast) on Palm Sunday, March 20, from New Orleans. The event will take place at several well-known New Orleans locations and feature hundreds of people carrying a 20-foot, illuminated cross from just outside the Superdome to the banks of the Mississippi River.

The project will be the second of the network’s efforts to break into the live musical event game that has brought NBC (“The Sound of Music,” “The Wiz) such success. The first, “Grease: Live,” starring Julianne Hough and Aaron Tveit, airs at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 on Fox.

libby.hill@latimes.com

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