4/20 doesn't fall until next Tuesday and Moon Rock is opening at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium at the Saint Louis Science Center this Saturday, April 17, but it doesn't really matter since Moon Rock is not that kind of space show.
Instead, says John Lakey who worked on the production, it's a short film geared toward kids between kindergarten and second grade. That's right: It's educational. It does feature two original songs, co-written by Raquel Kislinger and Jennifer Boxer, who works at the Science Center. The first, "Moon Rock", Lakey describes as "poppy rock and roll." The second, "I Wanna Be an Astronaut" is "more ballad-style."
The show, which meets state requirements for space education (elementary-school science teachers take note!) concerns the experiences ("adventures" is probably too strong a word) of a young girl named Emily, played by 12-year-old St. Louisan Emily McKenzie, who brings a band called The Cosmic Rays to the planetarium to visit her friend Mr. Wiman, played, in a remarkable coincidence, by Al Wiman, a former TV reporter and current Vice President of Public Understanding of Science at the Science Center.
Ultimately, says Lakey, Mr. Wiman comes to accept the intrusion of the band into his domain, although he's initially "a bit reluctant." Emily and the Cosmic Rays learn about the phases of the moon and the Apollo missions (although no golf is played, as happened during the Apollo 14 landing), Emily discovers an ambition to become an astronaut and everybody sings. The audience can even join in: The lyrics to "Moon Rock" will show up onscreen with a little bouncing moon to help everyone follow along.
"Mostly you hear voices," Lakey says. "We do a lot of stuff with the planetary projector."
Moon Rock lasts 18 minutes and will be followed by a 10-minute presentation of the Live Night Sky by members of the planetarium staff. Normally it would cost $5 for adults and $4 for children, but on Saturday the show will be free because of Des Lee Day, meant to honor the late benefactor of so many St. Louis institutions, including the Science Center. Lakey says it will run at least through the summer and possibly into the fall.