Excerpt from Actor’s Devotional for March 15th

Posted: April 11, 2009 in Devotionals

March15

 

Actor’s Devotional

 

And the little ugly ducklings

Are swans that got away

‘Cause Cinderella stories,

They still happen every day – Nicole C Mullen

 

Broadway historians have called it “the perfect musical”.  And indeed from the moment “My Fair Lady” debuted on Broadway on this day in 1956, it has lived up to that title. 

 

Henry Higgins is a famous linguist who lives in a posh section of London.  He has a friendly wager, with his fellow linguist Colonel Pickering, that anyone, given the proper training, can pass for someone in High Society.  “Why even that girl”, he quips referring to Eliza Doolittle a local flower girl, with a thick Cockney accent who live in Covent Garden.  The bet is taken and so begins the adventure and misadventures of the play.

 

Higgins works tirelessly with Eliza, and at first she seems hopeless.  But little by little she “gets it” and she is ready for her first real test.  Higgins takes her to his mother box seat at Ascot Racecourse, one of the premiere social functions of the London season.  Everyone is taken by her good manners, only to be later on shocked by her vulgar Cockney observations as she lets her façade slip as the encounter goes on.  Her cultured-ness is only skin deep it would seem, but she still manages to catch the mind and heart of a young bachelor named Freddy.  He follows her home and throughout the remainder of the play tries to win her heart.

 

The training continues, and the grand finale test finally draws near.  This is to be an Embassy Ball at which Eliza must pass for a Duchess.  A Hungarian “spy” is even enlisted in hopes of revealing Eliza’s secret, but she even convinces him that she is royalty… of Hungarian decent!  For Higgins, this is the sum and total of the operation.  They sought to prove that social distinctions rely mainly on how a person speaks and acts, and has little to do with the blood running through their veins.  They had done that and so Higgins is through with the whole thing.  Feeling used, Eliza blows up at the confused Higgins who meditates for a time on what he could’ve possibly done wrong.  Making a visit to his mother, he instead finds Eliza having tea with her.  He overhears her telling his mom that Higgins has always thought of her as a flower girl, but she transformed because Colonel Pickering saw her as a lady.  Eliza confronts Higgins and says that she doesn’t need him anymore and she never really did, and now she has resolved to marry Freddy who loves her as she is.    Higgins leaves to go home in a huff, but over the next few days he realizes how much he misses Eliza.  He’s “grown accustomed to her face”.  So much so that he puts on some recordings he had made of her, and realizes, when he hears himself interacting with her, that he had treated her rather shabbily.  As the recordings end the Cockney voice is still speaking saying, “I washed me face an’ ‘ands before I come, I did.”, the lines she used when she first met Professor Higgins.  We are left to imagine, but given to understand they live happily ever after, as to what happens after their sweet reunion.  The play was a smash hit.  “My Fair Lady” played for record setting 2,717 consecutive performances before its original Broadway run came to an end.

 

The reformational context of the play is unmistakable.  After all, what were we when the Lord found us?  Weren’t we poor, broken, and abandoned? God uses much the same language in Scripture that the writers of the play used. The plots are similar too.  God, finding us broken down and seemingly worthless, raises us up, refines us, dresses us in white, and redeems our lives.  The great attraction for “My Fair Lady” then is not merely the conflict of class distinction, but even more so it is the very Gospel, the Divine romance being retold to us in musical theater … and we are moved.

 

·      Ezekiel 16:4-5 “‘On the day you were born your umbilical cord was not cut, you weren’t bathed and cleaned up, you weren’t rubbed with salt, you weren’t wrapped in a baby blanket. No one cared a fig for you. No one did one thing to care for you tenderly in these ways. You were thrown out into a vacant lot and left there, dirty and unwashed—a newborn nobody wanted.  6-7 “‘And then I came by. I saw you all miserable and bloody. Yes, I said to you, lying there helpless and filthy, “Live! Grow up like a plant in the field!” And you did. You grew up. You grew tall and matured as a woman, full-breasted, with flowing hair. But you were naked and vulnerable, fragile and exposed.  8-14 “‘I came by again and saw you, saw that you were ready for love and a lover. I took care of you, dressed you and protected you. I promised you my love and entered the covenant of marriage with you. I, God, the Master, gave my word. You became mine. I gave you a good bath, washing off all that old blood, and anointed you with aromatic oils. I dressed you in a colorful gown and put leather sandals on your feet. I gave you linen blouses and fashionable wardrobe of expensive clothing. I adorned you with jewelry: I placed bracelets on your wrists, fitted you out with a necklace, emerald rings, sapphire earrings, and a diamond tiara. You were provided with everything precious and beautiful: with exquisite clothes and elegant food, garnished with honey and oil. You were absolutely stunning. You were a queen! You became world-famous, a legendary beauty brought to perfection by my adornments. Decree of God, the Master. 

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