News Articles

‘Jesus’ and ‘Resurrection’ among online Easter viewings as COVID-19 lingers

BRANSON, Mo. (BP) – Proclaiming the words of Jesus daily while portraying the Savior in Sight & Sound’s live musical production of “Jesus — Live” affects actor Cody Hunt like no other role in his 10-year career.

“When you’re playing the role of Jesus and you’re speaking the words that He spoke every day … and you see His overwhelming love for every person He came in contact with, and you actually have to act it out every day,” Hunt said, “and then you walk off stage and people are calling you Jesus because you portrayed Him, it holds you to a level of accountability not just to seem like Jesus, but to actually pour love into people, to actually serve the way that He served.”

Hunt, reared as a Southern Baptist but now a nondenominational Christian, has the lead role in Sight & Sound TV’s first ever live production of the musical from its Branson, Mo., studio. The musical streams exclusively on Sight & Sound TV, an outlet launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, at select times Good Friday through Easter.

Additional retellings of the Savior’s atonement are available in “Resurrection,” a new production from Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, which is streaming on Discovery Plus, and the 2019 production of the play “This Day of Resurrection,” available online from Southview Baptist Church in Lincoln, Neb.

Jesus — Live marks the first time Sight & Sound has presented the original stage production live from its new stage in Branson, Sight & Sound Chief Story Officer Josh Enck said in a press release.

“‘JESUS’ is a story about the man who strapped on His sandals, rolled up His sleeves, and reached into the lives of those sinking beneath the storms of life,” Enck said. The show is composed of vignettes of Jesus’ ministry on earth, including the crucifixion and resurrection, and will include a 30-minute pre-show, a 20-minute intermission, exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews and a sneak peek at how the production was created.

Hunt said presenting Jesus has helped his Christian discipleship after he strayed from the faith as a college student, returning to a relationship with Jesus six years ago.

“And anytime I’m discouraged,” Hunt said, “God always catches me in the middle of a show – I’ll be in the middle of a line – and He’ll speak to me in a new way, in a brand new way, like I’ve never heard Him before.”

Jesus – Live streams at 7 p.m. Eastern April 2 and at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. April 3 and Easter (April 4) for $35 each, with tickets available here, said Sight & Sound Communications Manager Katie Miller.

“We are excited about the opportunity that we have to bring Easter to life and families all across the world this coming weekend,” Miller said. “And for us this is a ministry, but it is also a business for us. We have 700 employees here. We have a crew of 35 that’s here, and it is an honor to be able to employ these amazingly creative and talented people who bring their gifts and talents to work every day to bring the Bible to life.”

Southview Baptist Church

This marks the third year Southview has streamed the 2019 production of This Day of Resurrection, as the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the live Easter season production in 2020.

The production involves the Southview congregation from babies to the elderly and features live animals. Last year’s broadcast was viewed in Rwanda, India and China, and has produced Gospel fruit, said writer and director Sylvana Airan.

“It’s humbling as to how God uses these circumstances as long as we also put an effort into it,” Airan said. “Every year, God brings unbelievers to us. God has really blessed and anointed this play.”

This Day of Resurrection takes the audience from Jesus’ birth through His resurrection, and includes a Gospel presentation and invitation to Christian discipleship with the sinner’s prayer. Airan closes the production with a liturgical presentation of the Lord’s Prayer in song and sign language.

The play would have marked its 30th production this year. It is available for free viewing at southviewbaptist.org.

Discovery Plus

Discovery Plus’ Resurrection is a 90-minute presentation of the aftermath of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, highlighting the emotional turmoil the disciples faced as they tried to comprehend the first century events.

Movieguide described the film as having a Christian worldview and presenting a Bible-based depiction of the true events of 2,000 years ago.

In its review, Movieguide said the film is “a fresh version” of the story.

“They’ve done a good job of making it entertaining and exciting, while keeping close to the Gospel story. There could be criticism of what they left out or the way they portray the apostles,” Movieguide said. “However, any time you make a movie from a historical document, you have to make tough choices to make the story entertaining.”

Resurrection has been streaming on Discovery Plus since March 27.