The Discovery Cube Orange County children’s science museum Friday will debut its first theatrical production, a holiday-themed educational musical produced by a local Tony Award-winning team.
“Winter Lights: A Journey Home,” was created by the husband-and-wife team of Tim Kashani and Pamela Winslow Kashani.
“Back in 2019, (Discovery Cube CEO Joe Adams) took us to lunch and said they wanted to reach the younger generation of science students, especially to empower female science students through a story,” Tim Kashani told City News Service.
“So we came up with the idea of a short-form holiday musical that would inspire the kids and excite them and also have a deep message about a young scientist wanting to change the world to make it a better place and thus we began writing the first draft of the show.”
The production team was on a retreat in February 2020 and “everybody was super excited” about working on the show, which was scheduled to open in December 2020, Kashani said.
“Obviously, all of that changed,” Kashani said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We continued to work on it so in a way it helped us refine the linkage between STEM and STEAM, so we had enough science in the show, but now much more story so it didn’t feel like a lecture.”
The story “takes place here in the heart of Santa Ana and our scientist, Lumina, is a senior in high school who has entered a science contest… Her experiment to clean up the world is failing miserably and she doesn’t know what to do.”
A “science fairy ultimately teaches her that science is all about failing, which is how you learn,” Kashani said. “You pick yourself up and keep trying and eventually something hopefully works out, so it has a core message to what the Cube wants to do to empower people and at the same time it’s a festival.”
The production features a snow machine that brings the white stuff to stage, Kashani said.
One of the actresses playing Lumina is Sophia Ruiz, a student at the Orange County School of the Arts. There are two other actresses who play the part when Sophia is in class.
Erin Warady, a marketing vice president for the museum, said the Cube is aiming to provide more interactivity with exhibits and attractions. Before and after the show visitors can enjoy various interactive exhibits related to the production that includes dozens of Christmas trees and light shows.
The show will continue through Jan. 8 every day except Christmas Day. A livestreamed version of the show will be offered Dec. 29 on the Discovery Cube’s website.
Plans are to present the show annually for 10 years and to also take it on the road to other kids museums.
“If we can inspire some scientists 15 years from now who started taking science classes because they saw this show then we succeeded,” said Kashani, who along with his wife won Tonys in 2010 as producers of “Memphis,” that year’s best musical.