Few men have impacted the world like the apostle Paul. His remarkable background provided a platform from which he was able to literally challenge and change his world — and that legacy continues even today. He was known by friend and foe alike as “Paul the zealot.” He was a pharisee, a rabbi, Greek philosopher, Hebrew, AND Roman citizen. But, in spite of his talent, heritage, and education, Paul ultimately declared that the relationship he had with Jesus Christ was his ultimate triumph. Paul’s titles, birthrights, and associations opened doors afforded to few other men of his day.
The musical opens with the chilling stoning and martyrdom of Stephen which was personally overseen by Saul (Paul’s given name at birth). Saul argues publicly with Stephen and insights a riot which leads to the dramatic, eerie, and disquieting “slow motion” stoning. As a final and arrogant act after Stephen’s death, Saul takes center stage and declares, “One less heretic!” The lights go black.
In many ways Saul serves as both antagonist and protagonist in the story. Torn between family and tradition, Saul was an extremist whose love for “religion” blurred the reality of God’s very nature. Paul’s sister (spoken of in scripture in Acts 23:16 and named Daphne in our musical) is a central figure and by definition also an antagonist in the story. The anger and distress caused by Saul’s conversion is a constant frustration to her. Daphne’s conversion to Christianity late in the story is an astonishing testimony to God’s faithfulness.
When Saul meets with the high priest in Jerusalem he receives a letter granting permission to “stop the blasphemers” (followers of Christ) and drag them back to Jerusalem to be imprisoned. On the journey to Damascus Saul has an extraordinary encounter with Jesus. He is blinded by a bright light and soon led to the home of Ananias. While alone, waiting for Ananias and pondering his life, Saul sings the poignant and heartrending song, “Blind to God’s Truth” revealing his new heart to the audience as he sings, “I’m ashamed of all the harm that I’ve done, for now, I know You are God’s Son.”
Skeptical because of Saul’s reputation, Ananias, a firm believer in Christ, provides a comical moment in the show by “testing” Saul’s blindness. Finally, when convinced Saul is genuinely remorseful, Ananias prays that Saul’s heart and eyes will be opened. They sing, “Holy Spirit, come to me and open wide these eyes, let them see. Only Jesus can set the captive free.” At that moment the scales fall from Saul’s eyes and he is gloriously set free.
Once Saul begins going by the Roman version of his name, Paul, he seems to take on new strength and zeal. At last, able to hear God’s voice, he finds his life redirected as he travels with Barnabus, John Mark, and eventually, Silas, Luke, and others to spread the message of Jesus Christ. His relationship with the various colorful characters in the story are all lessons in life itself. Even the great apostle Paul didn’t get along with everyone!
Paul, Fearless Lion of God takes the audience on an unforgettable journey. They experience a personal side of Paul that has perhaps been forgotten. He was a man of passion and conviction and his life has been an example for men and women throughout the ages.
In the final scenes Paul’s relationships with Barnabus and his sister are restored. Even Daphne finds a place for Jesus in her heart as she quotes Paul’s words and says, “Whatsoever you do in word or deed, do ALL in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father.”
In prison, Paul leads his guard to Christ, and later sings, “But my pride causes me to sin; I push aside the Holy Spirit within. Help me be strong; don’t let my human nature win, though the road be long. There is victory in the end.”
Paul, Fearless Lion of God is permeated with scripture and the truths of the scriptures. The inherent power of God’s word seems to affect the audience in a rare and tender way. Outside of Jesus, there is no other person in the New Testament who had so much personal biography written about them as did Paul. The themes of restoration, reconciliation, God’s love, and God’s forgiveness leave the audience virtually overwhelmed. The musical is ultimately important because it helps patrons see the hope they can have for themselves when they discover that God could take a man like Paul and turn him into a powerful missionary, apostle, and writer of the vast majority of the New Testament. The words of the earthshaking finale sum it all up: “I press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God; my goal.” We promise there won’t be a dry eye in the house following this production. All the missionaries of the world will applaud!
When performed in its entirety, Paul, Fearless Lion of God is about 2 hours long. The show can be cut nearly in half by trimming back scenes and songs at the director’s discretion.
Cast of Characters
Daphne* (Paul’s sister)
Tryphaena* (Paul’s niece)
Lydia (Seller of Purple Cloth)
* Principle Character
THE USE OF A CHORUS
A chorus can easily be incorporated into this musical. Due to stage size, the original production did not utilize a chorus. However, a chorus of virtually any size could be added to a number of the scenes throughout the musical. In the first act these would include the stoning scenes of both Stephen and Paul, the town meeting where Ananysis and Barnabus introduce Saul as a new convert to the believers, the believer’s meeting where it is agreed that Paul and Barnabus will take John Mark with them on their first missionary journey, and nearly every scene in the second act.
As a point of interest, (and so you know it is possible), in the original production the following roles were played by the same actor:
Male: Philip, Lucius, Luke, and the soldier guarding Paul in prison
Male: Stephen, David, Ananias, John Mark, and Silas
Male: The High Priest, Barnabas, an extra Guard
Female: Alexa, and a female Servant
Doubling roles was accomplished with makeup, wigs, costumes, and some fine acting! We mention this because it demonstrates the possibility of doing a larger scale show such as this with a relatively small cast. (The original cast was made up of four men and five women.) However, you can easily utilize several dozen (or more) actors in this production by allowing different individuals to play each role and adding a chorus.
SET AND PROP REQUIREMENTS
As with all of our musicals, the sets can be very simple with only minimal scenery—leaving it up to the audience to “fill in the blanks.” Or, you can go all out and create sets that include several meeting rooms, an outside courtyard where Stephen and Paul are stoned, inside Daphne’s house, a pathway representing the road to Damascus, a small bedroom in Ananias’ house, and a prison cell. There is some very inexpensive special effects equipment you can purchase (fog machine for $69.00, flame lights for the prison scene for $15, etc., that add immeasurably to the visual aspects of the show. This information, and dozens of other production helps, are all found in the DIRECTOR’S NOTES which come free as part of the Musical Production Kit. Sample pictures of sets used in the original production of this, and many other Gloria Emmerich musicals, can be found by going to the photo gallery on this website.