LONDON: A crowd of thousands sang along to Oasis’ hit Wonderwall at the climax of a peculiarly Mancunian celebration of Easter.

Actor Darren Morfitt appeared as Jesus Christ at Manchester town hall last night, while thousands joined in a raucous chorus of the Gallagher’s hit, in a modern day version of the betrayal, crucifixion and resurrection of the Christ.

The Manchester Passion retold the last days of Jesus’ life using music from iconic Manchester bands performed by stars including James’ frontman, Tim Booth, as Judas Iscariot, narrator Keith Allen, and Coronation Street’s Chris Bisson, as Barabas, live from the streets of the city.

As a contemporary retelling of the Easter story it included Jesus singing Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division at the Last Supper, with Judas singing Heaven Knows I`m Miserable Now by the Smiths.

Thousands packed the heart of Manchester to watch the event, backed by a string orchestra and beamed to giant screens across Albert Square outside the Town Hall.

The crowd was encouraged to take part. “Crucify him!” rang out as narrator Allen asked them who should die, Jesus or Barabas.

The hour-long programme included a procession of busking disciples as an illuminated cross was carried through the city centre to join the drama for its finale.

Christian groups, including the Church of England, have been supportive of Manchester Passion, an attempt to tell the Easter story in a way that would appeal to a new audience. Originating in the Middle Ages, passion plays are religious dramas depicting Christ`s crucifixion and resurrection, traditionally performed as part of the celebration of Good Friday. The event, organised by the BBC Classical Music department, was shown live on BBC3.

The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, said: “Manchester Passion has a sincerity and an ability to shock and connect that is not far removed from how it must have been on the first Good Friday.”