‘Re­vival!’ brings mostly black cast to movie de­pic­tion of Gospel of John

The Beaufort Gazette - - Lowcountry Life - BY ADELLE M. BANKS

For cre­ator Harry Len­nix, the new movie “Re­vival!” – a retelling of the Gospel of John with a mostly black cast – is a film whose time has come.

“I think to be able to imag­ine your­self as some­body like Christ is a great, pow­er­ful tool that has been de­nied us, not nec­es­sar­ily even from out­side sources,” said Len­nix, a black writer, pro­ducer and ac­tor in the film.

Nei­ther John nor the other gospel writ­ers de­scribe Je­sus’ skin color, but Len­nix, in an in­ter- view just af­ter the film’s world pre­miere Tues­day (Dec. 4) at the Mu­seum of the Bi­ble, said de­pict­ing him as a man of color is some­thing black peo­ple of­ten “don’t have the dar­ing to delve into, and that’s a shame.”

The movie, which fea­tures singers Chaka Khan as Hero­dias, Michelle Wil­liams as Mary Mag­dalen and Mali Mu­sic as Je­sus, opened Fri­day in 10 cities from New York to Los An­ge­les. It is ex­pected to ex­pand to more cities in Jan­uary.

Len­nix, co-star of NBC’s “The Black­list,” said the pro­duc­tion – which mixes on­stage, movie-set and tech­nologi- cal per­for­mances – was con­ceived at his New An­ti­och Church of God in Christ in Los An­ge­les, with an aim to in­clude spir­i­tu­als and gospel mu­sic.

“New An­ti­och is made up of mostly black peo- ple,” he said of the Pen­te­costal con­gre­ga­tion. “When it comes to sing­ing that kind of mu­sic, it is vi­tal to have the au­then­tic voices.”

Len­nix’s twin goals for the look and the sound of the movie were met in his choice for the char­ac­ter of Je­sus. Mali Mu­sic is a Grammy-nom­i­nated gospel and R&B artist who added orig­i­nal songs to the movie, in­clud­ing “Not My Will,” sung in the Gar­den of Geth­se­mane as Je­sus con­tem­plates his pend­ing cru­ci­fix­ion.

“Act­ing as Christ and por­tray­ing Christ is so pow­er­ful, but por­tray­ing Christ in a mu­si­cal is even more be­cause no one thinks how he would sing,

TriCoast World­wide

Mali Mu­sic por­trays Je­sus in a scene from the new film “Re­vival!”

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