‘Saturday’s Warrior’ film introduces classic story to new generations

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A reboot of the iconic Mormon play-turned-movie “Saturday’s Warrior” is premiering Wednesday, March 30, at the Megaplex 17 Theater in Sandy before hitting the big screen on Friday, April 1. Movie producers hope to use the film adaptation to introduce the beloved story to younger generations of Mormon moviegoers.

Fans attending the premier can meet actors from the original Utah and California stage productions, the 1989 video cast, the new movie’s cast and the play’s original creators, Lex de Azevedo and Doug Stewart.

Popular LDS composer and musician de Azevedo produced the original stage play of “Saturday’s Warrior” in 1974. It was the first time members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had a chance to experience their culture on stage with popular music.

The story line of “Saturday’s Warrior” focuses on the Flinders family, an LDS family who promised each other to stay true to their faith and always be there for one another in the pre-mortal life. When they come to earth, however, it turns out that keeping the promise is not as easy as they had thought. Members of the Flinders family are put through trials in their mortal life to progress eternally and discover the true meaning of existence.

Members of the LDS Church came by the hundreds following the show’s stage debut, selling out 134 consecutive shows in Salt Lake and Spanish Fork. After its success, a video version of the play, still set on the stage, was released in 1989.

Emilie Brown, de Azevedo’s daughter and an executive producer on the new “Saturday’s Warrior” movie, said there is a tremendously nostalgic feeling attached to the play.

“Today we have amazing music of all styles inspired by the gospel, but at that time, it was basically hymns,” she said. “Also, seeing an LDS family on stage, with their struggles and values, really resonated with members. That just didn’t exist at the time.”

Generations of Mormons have enjoyed “Saturday’s Warrior” for more than 40 years. The upcoming motion picture version of the musical will introduce a new generation to the story, songs and characters.

My parent’s generation knows the stage play. My generation knows the 1989 VHS. My children don’t know ‘Saturday’s Warrior’ at all,” Brown said.

Brown said it’s fascinating how the issues people struggled with then are no different from the struggles families face today.

“Faith crisis, finding oneself, social issues, true love and the importance of family … these all resonate today,” she said.

Along with her father, Lex, and sister, Rachel Coleman, Brown has been pushing to make this film for years. But it wasn’t until 2015 that it became possible.

“It all came together when Lex woke up one morning last year with a clear vision of how to adapt the story for film. After that, everything came together,” Brown said.

She said the story and characters have been adapted to fit the medium of film. The characters are more complex and real.

“You really get to know them as people,” she said.

Brown said audiences can expect to have a great time at the musical motion picture. “They will laugh and likely cry,” she said. “It will be tough to not sing along with some of these favorite songs.”

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