The magical family drama about a teenage girl and a wishing well, BYUtv’s newest original show, has actually been bouncing around in their heads as long as the married couple has been writing together, nearly 15 years.
“‘Ruby’ was actually the second project we ever collaborated on,” Brian Adams said. “We originally wrote it as a feature and obviously, we’ve adapted it many times over over the years.”
The years of patient development will finally come to fruition as the first two episodes of “Ruby and the Well,” premiere on BYUtv on Sunday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. All 10 episodes will also be available to stream on the BYUtv app and BYUtv.org the same day.
“It’s been a beautiful journey for us,” Brian Adams said. “To see all the different innovations come and go, to have our hopes get really high and then get crushed when it didn’t happen. To now see ‘Ruby’ come to the screen is a dream come true.”
“It’s not unlike watching our own children grow up,” LeeAnne Adams said.
“Ruby and the Well” is also a “wish come true” for BYUtv, said Andra Johnson Duke, head of content for BYU broadcasting.
“At BYUtv, we are always looking for the elusive combination of intriguing entertainment that also inspires and ‘Ruby and the Well’ delivers on the promise of both elements,” she said in a news release. “Watching it will make every member of the family want to go out and grant wishes themselves, making the world a better place like Ruby.”
What is ‘Ruby and the Well’ about?
In “Ruby and the Well,” viewers meet 14-year Ruby O’Reilly, played by actress Zoe Wiesenthal, who has just moved with her father Daniel (Kristopher Turner) to the rural, rundown town of Emerald. As curious Ruby explores the orchard on their new property, she discovers an old wishing well with the power to grant wishes for residents in the town.
In each episode, Ruby visits the well and is given a series of mysterious visions connected to a community member’s innermost hopes and dreams. Ruby and her friends then must piece together the puzzle to help the person while keeping their heroic activities a secret from the rest of the town.
“‘Ruby and the Well’ has always been a show that is literally and figuratively about wish fulfillment,” Brian Adams said. “It’s a story about how a young girl fulfills her own wish to find her place in the world by first focusing on serving other people and helping make their wishes come true.”
Inspiration for the show came from research into the folklore of Irish Holy wells.
“We became inspired by the notion that we could tell a story where the wishing well is the protagonist. The well is full of all these wishes that people have placed in it, but it’s powerless to do anything about those wishes on its own, because it’s just a pile of inanimate rocks,” LeeAnne Adams said. “It needs a partner, it needs a helper, and that’s where the story exploded in our minds to be about a well and a little girl. They have to team up and work together to grant the wishes that have been storing up inside of this well. That’s where the idea really came from.”
“No one has ever done that mash up before — ‘Gravity Falls’ meets ‘The Secret Garden,’” LeeAnne Adams said. “It’s a pretty unique show.”
Lessons from ‘Dwight in Shining Armor’
Brian and LeeAnne Adams are best known as the creators and showrunners for BYUtv’s adventure-comedy series “Dwight in Shining Armor,” which premiered in 2019 and recently aired its fifth and final season. It is now airing in 45 countries worldwide.
Chronologically, the Adams created “Ruby and the Well” first, but they did learn some lessons from “Dwight” that helped make “Ruby” better.
“The first one, and the most important, I think, is that we learned that the show has to be about the world of the show, the community of the show, the ensemble of the show, and not so much about just one character,” LeeAnne Adams said. “We took that understanding and tried to put it into ‘Ruby.’”
Although told through the eyes of a teenager, “Dwight” had something that appealed to whole families, from young children to grandparents, which is BYUtv’s goal.
“That experience of building our co-viewing storytelling abilities really helped us,” Brian Adams said.
What are the core themes of ‘Ruby and the Well’?
Faith, service, forgiveness and reconciliation are among the central themes in the show, the Adams said.
“The value at the heart of ‘Ruby’ is faith,” LeeAnne Adams said. “Ruby has faith in the power of the well. She has faith in herself. She has faith in her friends. She has faith because she really can make people’s lives better one wish at a time. That’s central to the story.”
The hard-luck town of Emerald also grows as the characters help one another.
“Of course service is a big part of that,” Brian Adams said. “The whole community rises up through her service to them.”
Read about the cast and learn more about “Ruby and the Well” at BYUtv.org.