MOST EXCELLENT
THEOPHILUS
A MUSICAL by THOMAS COMBS MILLER
© 2016 T.C. Miller

BOOK PLOT: Theophilus, a grieving widower, receives the Gospel message from his physician, Dr. Luke (who has just rescued him from his attempted suicide). When alone, Theophilus talks to his deceased wife, Teodora. Ten months earlier, lying in her death bed (seen in flashback), Teodora exhorted Theophilus to believe in Jesus. Until that morning when her fatal disease claimed her, Teodora’s deep faith in the Lord was unbeknown to him. Now, enabled by the Holy Spirit to truly hear Teodora’s testimony, Theophilus vows to her that he will learn all that he can about Jesus. While reading Dr. Luke’s sacred narrative, he pauses often to share his thoughts with Teodora. During what will be the most important night of his life, the “living Word” opens the mind and heart of Theophilus to God the Holy Spirit’s ministry of conviction at work in his soul. He discerns that he is being asked to make his decision about Jesus’ calling on his life (“Who do you say that I am?”) As sunlight illuminates his bed chamber, the audience witnesses Theophilus’ transformation from a bitter and hopeless man into a joyful new believer trusting in God’s promise of eternal life: lived in that place prepared for him (and his Teodora, he is now certain) by Jesus Himself; fulfilling His Father’s perfect will for His adopted-by-grace human sons and daughters, dwelling with God in a community of true peace and great joy.

CAST REQUIREMENTS: MET requires a thirty member cast (fifteen men, fourteen women and one pre-adolescent boy). Half of those cast members must be vocal soloists (SATB). Every cast member will perform multiple character roles. Smaller-size theater groups-congregations with fewer singers available to them can utilize the split-track soundtrack’s “Music with Background Vocals” option (allowing their non-singing actors-actresses to lip-sync the background vocals). The actor-singer performing the lead role of Theophilus must be capable of “carrying” a one-man play. He will be interacting with just three other actors, in the opening and closing scenes only. MET is a hybrid theatrical form that merges an opera with the aforementioned one-man play. However, like more traditional musicals, MET’s leading man will sing five of the show’s twenty five songs so, he must be a strong tenor (or high range baritone). The Gospel events Theophilus reads of-comments on are depicted operatically through contemporary-style songs.

PRODUCTION NOTES: The soundtrack makes hiring and rehearsing an orchestra unnecessary. The running time for the show is two and a half hours, including a fifteen minute intermission. The optional overture can also be used as prelude music while the audience seats themselves. There is also an optional closing sung by the entire, now-out-of-character cast as their “witness in song” after the curtain call (with the house lights up for interacting with their audience). The audio technician’s song files, the vocalists’ sheet music, the book, scene outline and director’s production notes are available via MET’s website (www.metmusical.com). Minimalist sets and costumes are required to accommodate very quick scene changes. The book’s time and place context is the New Testament era but, a contemporary vs. traditional approach to biblical sets and costumes might better suit the show’s contemporary-style songs and their production.

TERMS OF USE: The authorized use of this copyrighted intellectual property will be granted by the author-owners after receipt of their signed (electronically) licensing agreement and paid (via PayPal) licensing fee. Christian congregations-theater groups who perform MET onstage serve Christ as evangelists through their performance art so, there will be no additional cost to them for receiving MET production materials. However, if tickets are sold in advance or at the door by any venue presenting MET onstage, the author-owners do ask that 10% of those ticket sales be paid (via PayPal) to them. This monetary transaction depends upon integrity between brothers and sisters in Christ. Half of that money will be donated to Dramatix, the online source of Christian theatrical material and primary means for marketing MET internationally. The other half will help support the evangelical mission of GM Performance Art Ministries (the author-owners’ production company). GMPAM’s mission is: to tell the sacred Gospel message of the human soul’s eternal salvation by faith in Jesus Christ through gifted Christian performing artists, evangelizing in diverse theatrical venues of a never-more-secularized world never more in need of the Lord’s mercy and grace.

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BOOK
OVERTURE
_________________________________________________ACT I__________________________________________________

SCENE 1 (Book-Part 1)
(Theophilus lies in his bed. Onesimus, his house servant, stands at the bedside. Dr. Luke enters the room, lays his satchel on a table by the door, and quickly walks towards the bed while addressing Onesimus.)
Dr. Luke: Is he alive?
Onesimus: Yes, Dr. Luke. I ran back to him as fast as I have ever run. I poured your antidote down his throat. His stomach emptied quickly. (Theophilus begins to stir, loudly, in his bed.)
Dr. Luke: Leave us, Onesimus. I will talk to him. Thank our Lord that he is still alive. Go. Rest.
Onesimus: I thank God our Father for your help tonight, Dr. Luke.
(Onesimus exits. Theophilus sits up in his bed, his back turned to Dr. Luke standing behind him. Placing his feet on the floor yet still seated, Theophilus slowly turns to see the family physician who saved him from his attempted suicide. He turns away from Dr. Luke’s concerned gaze.)
Theophilus: Whatever you did, it was no kindness to me. Leave. You’re called to heal the living. I’ve been dead for ten months.
Dr. Luke: I was trained to be humble in my study of the medical arts, Theophilus. The best of my teachers told me, “Let the death of a patient make you even more grateful for the patient you were able to save.” If dying is what you want, then you’ll have it. I can’t stop you. But the God Who created and sustains you and every other life is a good God, my friend. And He wants you to have a new life, one very much worth living. I ask you to seek and choose that new life, Theophilus!
Theophilus: (As the introduction to a song begins, Theophilus stands.)
You say that God is “good”. Is he? Then, let me ask…
(begins to sing)
If God is Good, Then Why?
(Theophilus sings to Dr. Luke)
If God is just, then why does evil have its way?
Hearts are broken every day
Tell me friend, and I will listen to this one to whom you pray
If God’s in charge, then why does power crush the weak?
Truth is not allowed to speak
Tell me friend, and I will look for this one whom I should seek
If God is good, then why did he let her die?
Why did my Teodora have to die?
If God is here, then why am I facing life alone?
This empty house was once our home
Tell me friend, because I wonder if his heart is made of stone
If God loves us, then why does he let us struggle so
Learning things we need to know?
Tell me friend, because, in truth, I think he just enjoys the show
If God is good, then why did he let her die?
Why did my Teodora have to die?
Yes you believe, I’m happy for you
You’re a better man than I
You can hold my doubts against me
Still again I ask you why
If God is good, then why did he let her die?
Why did my Teodora have to die?
Why did my Teodora have to die?
Why…did…my…Teodora…have…to…die?
(Book-Part 2)
(Theophilus sits on the edge of his bed with head bowed, drained by his bitter lament. Dr. Luke places his hand on Theophilus’ shoulder.)
Dr. Luke: I can’t answer your questions, Theophilus. But, I trust the One Who can. I’m not alone in this faith. Or do you forget that I stood here in this room, ten months ago, as Teodora gave you her testimony of faith with her last breath?
(The lighting changes to flashback. Teodora appears in the bed. Theophilus kneels on the floor beside her. Dr. Luke moves away. Theophilus’ back is turned to the audience as a soft spotlight focuses on Teodora’s face.)
Teodora: Theophilus, ever-best friend, there’s something you need to know. I am a follower of Jesus. Forgive me for not telling you. I was afraid. I knew how angry you’d be over the danger I placed myself in. You told me about the horrible things being done to His disciples.
During your journeys for Rome, I invited many of those disciples to meet here, safe from their persecutors: free to sing their praises to Him,… free to pray to His Father…in… His…holy name… Free to worship Jesus, …as… I do, Theophilus.
(She pauses to regain her strength)
Theophilus, …if you believe in Jesus, … He will save you…for true, eternal life…with God, His Father, in… heaven. He is our Father too. Dear husband, …Jesus is God! When we come to God, we can never be separated from Him…, not even by death, which I do not fear.
This faith I have, it is…a… gift …from God. Theophilus…, our love for each other …and the children …it comes from God. Oh, my ever-best friend, … believe…in Jesus. I …have always…loved…you, Theophi---.
(Teodora dies. Theophilus plunges his face into his hands. Teodora disappears in a fade away as the lighting changes back to the present. Theophilus stands and turns to Dr. Luke, standing again where he had been.)
Theophilus: I was deaf to her testimony. Deaf to anything but the struggle of her breathing. When that vile disease finished its hateful work, most of my life slipped away with her that morning. And every morning since, the emptiness rushes in to darken the day that lies ahead of me.
Dr. Luke: Theophilus, Jesus is our Great Physician. My skills are like that of a child at play compared to His healing power. Jesus can cure the brokenness in a human heart no matter what injury it has suffered in this broken world. God used my antidote and the swift feet of Onesimus to save you for your purpose not yet fulfilled.
Those who believe in Jesus have much more than hope. We have the sacred promises of God the Son! One of those promises was made to you, Theophilus. Jesus says: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
(Dr. Luke walks to the table by the door, grabs the satchel, and returns to Theophilus. He opens the satchel and removes a scroll)
I planned to give you this (
holds out the scroll) before leaving the city. When report of your self-poisoning came to me from the frightened Onesimus, I grabbed it on my way out. As I hurried, I prayed that you would survive to read it.
This is the record of Jesus’ life on earth, Theophilus. I make no claim of authorship. God the Father called me to write this. God the Holy Spirit illumined me for telling you and many others what the Father has done, and will do, through God the Son,…Jesus Christ.
This (
lifting the scroll higher) is the Word of Life, Theophilus.
I wrote the salutation to you. I thank God for having this good news to give to you during this darkest season of your life.
Theophilus: (He turns away from Dr. Luke, unwilling to receive the scroll from his outstretched hands.)
Give your “good news” to someone who can still hear anything good. Goodnight, doctor.
(Reluctantly, Dr. Luke walks over to the desk and lays the scroll upon it, then he continues to the door, opens it, stops and turns, pausing a brief moment.)
Dr. Luke: Think on what I’ve said. Let Onesimus tend to you until your strength returns. Tomorrow, l leave on a journey with a powerful servant of Jesus. His name is Paul. Only God knows when our return will be. I will pray for you, Theophilus.
(He exits, closing the bedroom door behind him.)
Theophilus: (He talks to his deseased wife as he often does now when he is alone.)
Oh, Teodora, ever-best friend. How small I have become after shrinking before the mystery of death. The children are worried. They tell me that our grandchildren miss you terribly.
One of the little ones asked our son, “Father,
did grandfather die, too?”
My solitude has only confirmed what I feared the most after losing you. I’ve also lost whatever gives a man hope for better days. Life without hope is death walking, Teadora. Sleep is no escape. There’s been little of it in this empty bed.
(He stands and walks downstage center)
Good Dr. Luke asked me if I remembered that morning I’ve tried so hard to forget. But, I will never forget. I remember that all my fears for your safety made you afraid to share with me what was so important to you. Forgive me, wife. You, who loved even the stranger, of course you helped those frightened people, giving them sanctuary from Rome’s brutality. How brave you were, my darling.
(He notices Dr. Luke’s scroll on his desk. He walks over, picks up the scroll, returns downstage center, partially unrolls the scroll, and speaks to Teodora.)
Because
you believed that Jesus was worthy of such great trust, I will read this account of his life. Because I want to understand you more, I will learn more about Jesus. If this prescription (he lifts the scroll) for “new life”, as Dr. Luke claims it to be, can give me the peace that I saw in your face on that terrible morning then, yes, I will take my medicine.
Right now!
(He walks to his desk, unrolls more of the scroll and begins reading ‘The Gospel According to Luke’. As the lights dim, underscore becomes the introduction to the first of four scene/songs depicting the birth narrative of Jesus Christ.)
SCENE 2 Go to Them Gabriel
(Holy angels sing to the Archangel, Gabriel)
Every holy angel, sing His name
Tell all heaven what you’ve heard
If we don’t sing out His praise, who will
They don’t know He is the Word
We will sing about His mighty works
In this place far beyond their day
Their salvation is the Father’s will
But, they don’t know about the way
Go to them, Gabriel
Tell them that Emmanuel will be coming soon
A blessing to all
Every man, woman, child one day He will call
Go to them Gabriel
Tell them Emmanuel will teach them to love and forgive
If they eat of this bread, they shall live
Will they choose God, like we holy angels did?
Oh, Go to them Gabriel
He will listen to His Father’s voice
And tell them many holy things
Anyone who really hears His words
Will receive the gift He brings
Sacred promises He vowed to keep
The Father’s mercy must be shown
When He’s finished what He comes to do
They’ll be able to come home
Go to the Gabriel
Tell them that Emmanuel will live in their world
But He will not sin
Many lives will be changed, to show where’s He’s been
Go to them Gabriel, tell them Emmanuel
Will teach them to love and forgive
If they eat of this bread, they shall live
Will they choose God, like we holy angels did?
Oh, go to them Gabriel
Oh, go to them Gabriel
Oh, go to them Gabriel
SCENE 3 O Favored One
(Gabriel sings to the young Mary)
Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you
Blessed are you among women
Be not afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God
And behold, you shall conceive in your womb
And bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus
And He shall be great, and shall be called
The Son of the Most High
And the Lord will give to Him the throne of David
And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever
And His kingdom will have no end
SCENE 4 His Name Shall Be Jesus
(Mary sings to Joseph)
An angel told me I will bear a Son
The virgin mother of the Lord
Most blessed of women
Chosen as the one
I put my trust in God’s word
When the angel spoke this promise God has made
I gave thanks in my heart, for the souls He will save
When the angel left me silent, in my room
Then I knew it was true
I had life in my womb
An angel told me, an angel told me His name shall be Jesus
An angel told me, an angel told me His name shall be Jesus
(Joseph sings to Mary)
An angel told me not to be afraid
God knew our faith would be strong
I’ll stay right beside you
For you will be my wife
We know that God’s never wrong
When the angel gave me peace within my soul
I gave thanks for this Child Whom the prophets foretold
When the angel said that we would raise God’s Son
Then I knew it was true
Our Messiah, He has come
(Mary and Joseph hold hands while singing to each other)
An angel told me, an angel told me His name shall be Jesus
An angel told me, an angel told me His name shall be Jesus
(Holy angels sing to the audience as the Holy Family approaches the village of Bethlehem)
Mary held Him in her arms that holy night
Such a beautiful Boy, with His face in starlight
And, when
Gabriel told those shepherds where He lay,
They went to see that holiest Child, sleeping in hay
Gabriel told them, Gabriel told them His name shall be Jesus
Gabriel told them, Gabriel told them His name shall be Jesus
SCENE 5 Where is He?
(The Shepherds sing to Joseph)
Where is He? We must see
The angel told us where to go
All of us have come to know if this could be
A Savior, born to set us free
Oh, tell us, where is He?
(The Magi sing to King Herod)
Where is He? Yes, we three
Have come so far with gifts in hand
The moving star brought us to your land
A King is here
Your prophets say He’s very near
Please, tell us, where is He?
(King Herod sings to his soldiers)
Where is he? This cannot be!
I’m the king, and no one else!
I rule these people by myself!
Find the child in his bed!
Don’t come back until he’s dead!
Now, hurry! Where is he!? Tell me! Where is he!?
SCENE 6 (Book-Part 3)
(Theophilus is seated at his desk, reading. He stops, and speaks to Teodora)
Theophilus: A miraculous birth? A great, new hope in this world of endless violence? The promise of redemption and peace for all of humanity? Teodora, this testimony asks too much of me! You know so well that I believe only our love for each other and the children ever seemed worthy of my faith in this world.
You told me your faith was a gift from God. How could I ever expect to receive such a gift? No
(shaking his head slowly), I only want peace.
(He looks up at the shelf above his desk, filled with the scrolls of his personal library)
I turned to this library looking for peace.
(He stands and reaches for one of the scrolls)
I re-read the science of Aristotle, the philosophy of Plato, the logic of Socrates, those great minds my Greek forefathers entrusted for their view of the cosmos. I used to believe that they knew all truth about all the important things. But, how quickly their musings were reduced to the conjecture of mortal men. I have found no comfort in my education.
Tonight, all I know is how little I know.
(He puts his scroll back and sits down)
Did your faith in Jesus resolve every doubt, Teodora; those mysteries we all face?
As a young man, I listened to those who spoke of Jesus. I dismissed their claims as entirely incredible. The religious passions of others held no interest for me. What would I want with a Jewish martyr?
When the Emporer made belief in Jesus an act of treason punishable by death, I pitied their devotion to him. Anyone who asked my opinion of such irrational suffering heard me call it a tragedy of misplaced loyalty and misused courage.
But I confess, dear wife, Dr. Luke’s report
(pointing to the scroll on his desk) is challenging my understanding of power. Remember how I was seduced by the great show of Roman authority. Oh, my! When the Emperor first granted me my official title, Most Excellent, giving me an ambassador’s voice, those subject to his rule and taxation too often heard me threaten them.
Yet how humbly Jesus came into this world, with its evil kings and helpless people. But, Teodora, if Jesus’ birth ushered in “peace on earth” over sixty years ago, where is that peace? In this and so many others lands ruled by the fear of Roman garrisons, I’ve seen little of it.
People still talk about Herod’s savagery against the Jewish boys in that village of Bethlehem. Why give such a vile order? What threat could’ve ever come from a people as oppressed as the Jews? If Jesus was the king of a new kingdom, why do his followers suffer so? Why have they been ruled over by the worst tyrants?
Dr. Luke shares your testimony, Teodora, that Jesus is the Son of the only God there is. I know that you believed Jesus loved all people everywhere. Is God really present in every place, with every people? Can we truly live as sons and daughters of God? This is too amazing.
Where’d I leave off? Yes,…here.
(pointing to a text in the scroll)
Jesus is twelve years old, and he’s missing! Mary and Joseph were headed back to Nazareth after their annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but now they’ve turned around to go back to the city, to look for Jesus.
Do you remember when our Athenaeus ran away from home? We were so frightened. We gave him a scolding that he still remembers, and tells his children about!
(he smiles) I wonder? How do you scold God?
(Chuckling to himself, he continues on with his reading from the scroll.)
……………………………………….

This is only a portion of the script. To obtain a full copy of Most Excellent Theophilus, contact the author, at tcjmmiller@gmail.com