I recently watched a screener for a movie, that is extremely timely for this Lenten season, entitled REVIVAL – a musical theater/film experience that is based on the gospel of John the Apostle and highlights the life and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
The brain child of iconic character actor/writer/producer Harry Lennix (The Five Heartbeats, Man of Steel), “Revival” was created not only to shine a light on Black faith entertainment but to bring the story of Jesus to a contemporary audience in an innovative way. According to Lennix,
“Revival! is a project that has lived in my heart for many years. It espouses a message of love and spiritual courage, something like an open love letter that can help comfort all of us as we process the chaos of daily life.”
With an all-star cast, that includes Lennix (Pontius Pilate), Mali Music as Jesus, Kenny Lattimore (Lazarus), Michelle Williams (Mary Magdalen), Dawnn Lewis (Cleo), Wendy Raquel Robinson, Paula Newsome (Mother Mary), T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh (Rebah), Kirk Taylor (Simon/Cephas), Anthony Azizi (Judas) and the legendary Chaka Khan (Herodias), the film is filled with dynamic performances and great musical numbers. I was also impressed to see iconic singer/songwriter Siedah Garrett and friend to the site Chester Gregory (Berry Gordy, Motown the Musical) as members of the cast.
What was a bit difficult for me was adapting to the transitions back and forth from theater stage to regular scenes within the film. An extremely artsy technique, it fell a little flat for me and I believe may make it difficult for some unfamiliar with the Resurrection narrative to engage.
But what I absolutely loved was the down-to-earth/contemporary vernacular blended into telling the story, which is a fresh take on how it’s normally depicted.
Likening the Resurrection to a modern-day ghost story, “Revival” is an interesting take on an old biblical tale that shines best with its musical numbers but dims a bit with execution. I rate it 2.5 out of 5 beats on the MMTrometer.
REVIVAL is available everywhere on digital and DVD, including Amazon and Walmart. You can watch Harry Lennix and producer Holly Carter discuss the path to creating the film below and get additional info at the official website revivalthemovie.com.
Until next thought, Thomasena