Opening night. Saturday’s Warrior. As we sat waiting for the show to begin, the SCERA theatre began to fill with families and older couples. Clearly, this was an event. A revival of Saturday’s Warrior in the middle of the Utah Valley. Classic.
Music from the 90s (fast forward twenty years from the original) plays in the theatre and the sounds of young children surround us. We were a bit wary of all the young ones in the seats, but, as my companion noticed, the children were generally more attentive than the adults. The show is fast moving and full of music that holds the attention of young and old alike.
As the show begins, a darling little girl (Annalie Johnson) with a sweet voice intones the iconic lyrics, “Who are these children coming down?”. It is a lovely way to start the show. The scenery and lighting (Elizabeth Griffiths) make this moment one of great expectation for what is to proceed on the stage.
Director, Jeremy Showgren, did a fine job of casting talented singers. The ensemble, consisting of singers of all ages, is strong enough to keep up with the main characters. They harmonize well together and add to the overall musical strength of the show.
The set is effective, thanks to the design of M’Liss Tolman, but large and heavy to move around. Kudos to all (including children) who quickly make the changes. Not an easy task to create a number of different locations on one small stage.
When my children were young, they used to watch the video production of the show and act it out at home. The girls all wanted to be Pam. Pam (McKenna Hixson) in this production does not disappoint. Her voice is beautiful and her presence emotionally gripping. Her relationship with her twin brother, Jimmy (Tanner Perkins), feels very real and natural. Perkins portrays the personality of a moody teenager with skill. His voice, both solo and in his duets, is impressive.
It is great fun to see all of the Flinders family live on stage. So many have seen the production on VHS over the years. Alex Chester and Ashley Ramsey head up the Flinders family as parents to eight lively children. They portray the joys and frustrations that come with such a task. The children are real children and not models of perfection. The middle children (David Johnson, Isabella and Cole Hixson, Bo Chester) add the humor that only middle children can. As Julie, Kelsea Kocherhans sings well and shows a good balance between humor, earnestness and ditziness. Her solos and her duets with Tod (Alex Pierson) are very well done. Emily is the youngest and is the one who opens the show.
Saying that Elder Kestler (Chris Rollins) is high energy would be an understatement. He is definitely a contrast to his subdued companion, Elder Greene (Eric Taylor). Cheesiness is an integral part of this show. The scenes performed by these elders are the ultimate in cheese. They are comic relief personified.
This musical is a charming stroll down memory lane for so many of us. It is serious, funny, cheesy and emotional. The cast and crew handle this show in a way that shows respect to our nostalgia. Well done to all. I’m thinking I need to see it again.
When: Friday through May 7 on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Where: SCERA Center for the Arts, 745 S. State St., Orem
Tickets: $12 for adults and $10 for children ages 3-11 and seniors
Info: scera.org, (801) 225-ARTS