By Cecily Markland
Some things get better with age.
Such is the case for the 40th anniversary version of Saturday’s Warrior, the family-friendly hit musical that debuted in the ‘70s.The original Saturday’s Warrior became a blockbuster hit, starting with its first performances in California in 1973,then attracting record crowds, selling out more than 200 shows in Utah. The musical, by Douglas Stewart and Lex de Azevedo, is still considered a classic that won thousands of fans with its catchy music and heartwarming story, and that ushered in an all-new LDS art form.
Now, 40 years later, a contemporized version of the all-time favorite will open in Arizona in June.
Produced by Dreamweaver Productions and directed by none other than Norlan Jacobs, the director of the legendary Utah production, the Saturday’s Warrior is “bigger, more beautiful and better than ever,” the producers say.
The musical tells the story of the Flinders family and the eight children, who, while waiting to be born in the pre-existence, promise each other that they will always be there for each other. On earth, two of the children, Jimmy and Julie, encounter personal struggles which bring to light questions about the eternal nature of family and about foreordained missions in life.
The script and song lyrics have been updated and modern costuming, sets and highly technical artistic effects will add to the appeal for today’s audience.
Plus, Brother Jacobs says, “We’ve got an excellent, wonderful, amazingly talented cast. All of the roles are double cast, and every one of these performers are amazing. They’re even better, more professional, than my original cast.”
Michele Baer, who plays the matron and opens the show with the lyrics, “Who are these children coming down?” saw the original show as a teenager. “There is magic in the songs and power in the story. Together, it becomes an unforgettable experience for audiences,” she says. “Even for the youngest, it gives a feeling of heaven, an eternal perspective. And, people won’t believe how professional and exciting this production is. They will be blown away.”
Ryan Edwards, cast as Mr. Flinders, says, “I saw the show as a youth and I felt the spirit really strong. It strengthened my testimony, and I wanted to help recreate that and give that back to youth today.”
Carson Saline, will play the lead role of Jimmy. Although he has studied musical theater and has a great deal of experience, this “makes me a little nervous,” Carson says. “This really is a dream role. I feel a strong personal connection to the music Jimmy sings and what he goes through, and I really want the message to come through. I want to be sure I do the role justice.”
Brother Jacobs says they are already seeing some ticket sales, both at local Deseret Book Stores and at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts, co-producer of the show and where Saturday’s Warrior will be performed.
Brother Jacobs says, “Everyone has been so supportive and wonderful. We’ve seen people volunteer and provide financial support, and, we need more of the same. Most of all, we need help in spreading the word and encouraging people to purchase tickets and attend the show.”
For more about Saturday’s Warrior, visit www.saturdayswarrioraz.com, where you can find a complete cast list, updates about the performance and links to purchase tickets online.