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'Mission the Musical' hits the stage

Eric Malizia and Jed Christensen are hoping their new musical will enjoy the same kind of success "Saturday's Warrior" found with the Mormon audience."Mission the Musical" is designed for the LDS culture with a story about two missionaries — one modern-day man who isn't sure he wants to go and Meekum, a Nephite lad who is certain he does.In both cases, the plans for a mission clash with parental wishes.And, as the story unfolds, both young men learn lessons about faith, life and the power of making decisions as they fight the same "simple war.""This is a story with a message about decisions that has a kind of parallel to the show. Once we made the decision to just go ahead with it, things fell into place," said Christensen. "Before that, we had some difficulty."Because "Mission the Musical" is new, no one in the theatrical world was willing to risk putting it on their stage. Christensen and Malizia have had to use their own money to rent a stage, purchase sound equipment, build sets, costumes and fund the production.They only had four people show up to each of the first couple of auditions so they held a third and then recruited to fill out the cast.They're sandwiching directing and producing the show in between their day job duties. (Malizia is a media buyer for a marketing company. Christensen installs granite counter tops.)"Every other night, I get a full night's sleep," said Malizia, who wrote most of the songs for the show.Christensen directs the show and wrote the script. "The reason I did this is when (Christensen) showed me the script I was impressed that it wasn't a parody of the LDS religion," Malizia said.Christensen said the songs and the story just kind of came to him over the past two years as he went about his normal routines."I've written a couple of screen plays before and a children's book but always in the back of my mind, there was a story about a troubled kid going on a mission," he said. "Some songs just came to me — one I wrote down on a napkin at Arby's — and other ones I just knew what I needed. That's when I called Eric and sent him the script."Michael Cram plays George Preston, the father in the new show. He was in the original touring company of "Saturday's Warrior" and sings with the Utah Opera.He thinks enough of the show and it's potential to have missed a couple of important rehearsals with Utah Opera to rehearse with "Mission the Musical.""I think it could really build into something," Cram said. "The concept is a really good one.""The music is a little more modern (than music in 'Saturday's Warrior')," he said, "but Eric has done a great job with the music. Both (Christensen and Malizia) have put their heart and soul into this."