Zoom-shot children's musical, starring Potsdam student, streams on four dates
POTSDAM -- Local college student and actor Ben Johnson is starring in the first Zoom-shot children’s musical -- growth mindset story "Jean & the Wonderful Idea Machine” -- to help raise funds for at-risk kids without computer access during COVID-19.
At least 11 million students in the U.S.—the majority of which are in lower income, predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods—have been missing school during the Covid-19 pandemic because they don’t have access to computers or tablets for distance learning.“Jean and the Wonderful Idea Machine is a highly relevant and original musical that emphasizes the positive outlook necessary to change the world for the better,” said Johnson, a student at Crane School of Music. “This mindset of optimism and creativity is increasingly necessary as our society is faced with new challenges that we need to work together to overcome. As a member of this production I look forward to performing a musical that has not only never been done before but also is being performed in a truly modern medium.”
National youth empowerment speaker, author and songwriter Jenn August premiered the musical last year with the Portland Musical Theater Company, and shot the digital version via Zoom—the first of its kind—for release later this month. Eighty percent of proceeds to DonorsChoose.org, which helps classrooms in need. Currently there are more than 5,000 schools asking for computers and tablets needed urgently for distance learning. The remaining 20 percent of donations will cover the production costs, which were modest given the Zoom format. August chose the charity for its impeccable reputation and involvement of trusted luminaries such as Stephen Colbert and Yvette Nicole Brown of CBS and Johnathan Alter of MSNBC.
The musical, based on her celebrated eponymous children’s book, tells the story of Jean, who invents a machine that changes worried thoughts to wonderful ideas. Word of the invention earns her an invitation to the world peace summit to help solve global problems. August said the show’s growth mindset message is exactly what the world needs right now.
“We’re thrilled to have such a young man like Brad bring Jean’s father Rick to life,” said Jenn August. “With his winning performance, along with the young actress Natalia Pernick of Western New York who plays Jean, we hope to inspire all kids—and their parents and teachers—to believe in their ability to make the world a better place.”
Tickets to the 50-minute musical cost $20 per streaming device, to keep it as accessible as possible. The streamed performances take place on Zoom on the following dates and times:
• Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. Eastern
• Sept. 20 at 4 p.m. Eastern
• Sept. 26 at 4 p.m. Eastern
• Sept. 27 at 4 p.m. Eastern
Tickets can be purchased at www.thewonderfulideamachine.com. Included with the donation is her free resource guide on how to encourage a growth mindset in the children in your life.