‘Fun With STEM’ musical entertains and educates

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From March 28-April 6, the Broadway-style musical “Fun With STEM” debuts at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. The interactive show is designed for ages 5 to 8, and showcases the fun side of science, technology, engineering and math through artistic clowning around onstage and with the help of robotics.

During the performance, audience members interact with robotic puppets, such as a Tucan who is made up of more than 22 motors that allow him to flap his wings. The Disney-quality puppets are activated by young ones’ stomping their feet and clapping their hands. Guests are also asked to help cast members solve challenges that arise throughout the show. Cory the Clown, one of the six cast members, provides slapstick comedy, unicycling, juggling, singing and dancing, and asks for a ton of help from the audience.

Cory Riback, the creator behind “Fun With STEM” and who also plays Cory the Clown, came up with the show idea in 2011. He has since worked hard to get funding needed for the program to be a success, as well as taking time to focus on building each robotic puppet. Originally designed for only Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools elementary students, the nonprofit Fun With Laughter and CMS decided to open the performance to the public. Although designed specifically for children, the humor involved is sophisticated enough for parents to enjoy, too.

“Instead of being passive participants, Cory the Clown will get people to help him come up with ideas on how to water the plants, or whether or not he should be using something,” says Linda Watt, director and producer of the show. The fun continues with an after-show party, giving an allinclusive tour of the technology involved in the show. Cory the Clown also takes apart a few of his friends allowing guests to see the different motors involved in making the production work. Tickets are $18. For showtimes, go to blumenthalarts.org.