Most Excellent Theophilus

A Christian Musical by Songwriter/Playwright, Thomas Combs Miller

AUTHOR’S NOTES

BOOK SYNOPSIS:

Most Excellent Theophilus is a contemporary Christian musical proclaiming the Gospel message through songs and theatrical prose. The book tells the fictional story of “Theophilus” and his spiritual journey.
Personally addressed in the salutation of his Gospel and his Book of Acts, Luke’s “Theophilus” is the true
mystery man of the New Testament. I joined that group, formed over many centuries, of those who have
speculated about the identity of this historical person (in my opinion, as a seminary trained and ordained
Protestant pastor). Who “Theophilus” was will remain an open question seeking answers with each new
generation of Bible scholars. As a Christian songwriter/playwright in need of a good theatrical device for
delivering the Gospel message on the musical stage, I put some very human flesh on ancient bones.
My “Theophilus” is the sub-plot of this show. The life and sacred mission of Jesus Christ is its core narrative.

My theatrical “Most Excellent Theophilus” is a man in his sixties, a long-time ambassador for the Roman
empire. The audience meets him in a state of suicidal grief over the death of his wife, “Teodora.” As an
educated Greek, Theophilus’ mourning finds no relief. He knows only the empty polytheism of Greece and Rome and the Satanic pagan practices of his time and place. He is ignorant about the one, true God of the universe: the One Who self-revealed the reality of His being, first to the people of Israel through their leaders and prophets, then through the Incarnation of His “begotten, not made” Son, Jesus, the “Christ” (Greek for the Hebrew “Messiah”); the “Theandric Union” (God-Man); the second Person Who lives that ever-mysterious, supernatural and holy existence of “God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.”

The personhood of Jesus will totally preoccupy Theophilus during the pivotal night for his troubled soul
in the wake of his attempted suicide (an act of despair thwarted by Dr. Luke and Onesimus, Theophilus’
loyal house servant). He begins reading “The Gospel According to Luke” from the scroll left behind by
the physician/evangelist. This effort made by Dr. Luke is not only for consoling his grieving patient and
friend (“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted”) but for saving his soul through the
convicting ministry of God the Holy Spirit. By confessing his sins and giving over his life to the Lord and
Savior of all human lives, Dr. Luke knows that Theophilus has that all-important chance of receiving, by
his true faith, his true, spiritual life.

Having learned of his beloved Teodora’s devoted belief in Jesus as she lay on her deathbed ten months
earlier (witnessed by the audience during a flashback scene), Theophilus is now very guilt-ridden over
turning a deaf ear (in his anger with God) to her dying request. His innate skepticism and the cynicism
that grew in him during decades of serving Rome as a foriegn ambassador rendered the gentle spirit of
Teodora too fearful to give her Christian testimony to Theophilus. Not until her dying breaths was she
able to tell him that she was a disciple of Jesus. Although still filled with doubt, Theophilus is now ready
to honor his wife’s dying plea that he put all his trust in Jesus, the Son of God. He vows to Teodora that
he will learn all that he can about Jesus by reading the scroll given to him by Dr. Luke. He reflects out
loud (for the necessary benefit of the audience) on that which he reads during his poignant running
commentary made to the wife he misses so much and talks to so often in the privacy of his bedroom.

As the Gospel story unfolds (through the lyrics of the songs), the truth of that sacred message slowly
reveals itself to Theophilus. His once hardened heart is softened. His once closed mind is opened. By
the invisible, powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit at work within him, he receives the soul-redeeming
Word of God. In a life-changing moment of spiritual illumination, Theophilus accepts Jesus Christ as the
Lord and Savior of his life “on both sides of eternity.” After gratefully inviting Jesus into his heart, he
joyfully sings the show’s finale (“Now I’m a Man Who’s Born Again!”, MET’s theme song melody line).

VISION FOR AND MISSION OF THIS PERFORMANCE ART MINISTRY:

THE RESPONSE THAT I PRAY FOR IN THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF ALL THE BELIEVERS IN THE AUDIENCE /

True believers in the audiences will follow along as Theophilus experiences the transforming power of
God’s living Word. They will relate to him and recall that time when they, too, were skeptical: lost souls
being prepared by God’s Holy Spirit, made ready for a righteous relationship with God the Father by His
mercy and grace granted to them while they were still sinning against their Creator. They will rejoice
when seeing Theophilus accept God’s free gift of salvation. Many will remember that point in their own
spiritual journey when they received true, eternal life by putting all of their trust in Jesus Christ. They
will give thanks to God during the powerful, biblical scenes that come alive on the musical theater stage.

THE RESPONSE THAT I PRAY FOR IN THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF ALL THE UNBELIEVERS IN THE AUDIENCE /

Unbelievers will no doubt enjoy the contemporary songs and dramatically staged theatrics. The show’s
inherent “entertainment factor” will see to that, just like any secular show they may have experienced
before. Many will relate to this fictional story of “Theophilus.” For those unbelievers in the audience
who are “in the same place” as him (grief, despair and loneliness), the issues Theophilus raises will surely
resonate with them. Even if they are not enduring their own trials and tribulations at that point in their
lives, they will most likely agree with Theophilus’ early-on disbelief. Many struggle just like he did with
that universal question for every generation; “Why, God!?” They’ll share his skepticism. But, gradually
they will be drawn in, like Theophilus, to introspective self-examination. As Theophilus becomes honest
with himself about his sins and begins to understand his great need for the Lord, his redeeming moment
has the great spiritual potential of becoming a moment of redemption for souls sitting in the audience.
Many will be feeling what the Church calls “conviction.” This is not their condemnation but, rather, God
the Holy Spirit’s gift to them. For they will have no more self-delusion about their sins. They will sense
that wonderful “blessed assurance” of just how precious in worth and how innately beloved they are in
the mind and heart of God Almighty! Lord willing, many souls in MET’s audiences will be empowered by
the Holy Spirit to act upon this holy moment in their spiritual journey. By that faith alive within me by
God’s grace, I know the third Person of the Holy Trinity will be present and doing His necessary work in
the heart and mind of every soul who listens to and watches this performance art ministry wherever it is
produced for the stage (or sanctuary) and performed, bearing good fruit in the name of Jesus Christ.

THEATRICAL CONCEPT AND LOGISTICS FOR ONSTAGE PRODUCTIONS:

Most Excellent Theophilus was conceived by this author to be a one-man play merged with a musical: a
theatrical hybrid; a unique Christian witness. The dialogues and monologs of the main and supporting
characters (book) combine with the music and lyrics (songs) to tell both the core plot (the Christian
Gospel) and the fictional sub-plot (one man’s soul-saving response to those sacred historical events).
This musical requires casting a gifted male singer (tenor) and actor performing in the leading role of
Theophilus along with just three other performers with speaking roles. However, this musical’s many
song-scenes demand that the cast be much larger than these four performers only. Cast size will be
determined by which soundtrack option is decided upon by the director for a particular venue (i.e.
music only, which requires a cast of 30 or music with background vocals, which requires a cast of 15).
The leading man will sing 4 of the 25 songs as a tenor soloist. The remaining 21 songs (depicting biblical
events) will be sung by performers portraying key New Testament characters named within the Gospel
record. Most of the male and female lead singers will be performing in multiple roles. An eight-member
SATB chorus (two singers for each range) and a male trio (two tenors and a baritone) will be needed
regardless of which option (i.e. “music only” or “music with background vocals”) is decided upon by the
director before casting auditions are held and casting decisions are made.

BOOK COPYING, MUSIC, LIGHTING, COSTUME, SET, PROP AND PROJECTION REQUIREMENTS:

Book Copies / All cast members will be provided with a complete copy of the show’s book.

Music / The music will be provided by the above-mentioned digitally recorded soundtrack. No orchestra
is required, only a professional-level sound system. Song files and sheet music will be provided for all of
the singers in the show.

Lighting / A special, notated copy of the book with a Director’s Scene Outline included will be provided
for the lighting technician(s).

Costumes / The costuming will be creatively conceived, i.e. it will not be limited to the biblical period.
Sets / The minimalist sets will be enhanced by projections on a back-dropped screen or the rear wall of
the stage/sanctuary.

Props / There will be very few props to accommodate the show’s frequent and rapid scene changes.
Projection / A DVD will be provided for multi-media technicians to utilize for producing effective visuals.
Author's Notes