AP NEWS

‘Hi, My Name is Ben’: Musical shares tale of man who seemed to have nothing, but changed everything

May 6, 2019

“Hi, My Name is Ben,” the inspirational true story of a man who impacted the lives of everyone around him, without uttering a word, will be onstage at The Terris Theatre in Chester, Friday, May 17, through Sunday, June 9.

Ben will be portrayed by Joel Rooks, who has performed in films and on Broadway and television, in shows such as “New Amsterdam” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

This new musical tells the “story of one ordinary man and his extraordinary life,” the theater says. “From his tiny room in New York City, Bernhardt Wichmann III changed the lives of those around him without ever speaking a word. Using just his notepad, pen and open heart, Ben turned a neighborhood of strangers into a community of friends, before finally encountering a miracle of his own.”

“Hi, My Name is Ben” was written by Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie, while in residence at the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed. The two said they were inspired by an obituary they read about a mute man who lived on East 74th Street in New York City. They interviewed people who had known him and wound up with a modern-day fairy tale about hope, friendship, grief and more.

Gilmour and McKenzie, graduates of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, create original works that challenge the expectation of musical theater. They are the creators of the award-winning writing partnership, Noisemaker.

Directed by Andrew Panton, the production features an uplifting, folk-inflected score by Noisemaker in association with Dundee Rep, one of Scotland’s leading theaters. The show also represents Goodspeed’s first transatlantic collaboration with Scottish artists.

For over three decades, The Terris Theatre has been Goodspeed’s home for developing original musicals, some of which have gone on to Broadway. Because it’s a developmental theater, shows can change on a day-to-day basis. New scenes are added, songs are moved, costumes are changed, dialogue is tweaked ?• all based on audience response and feedback, the theater says.

Led by Executive Director Michael Gennaro, Goodspeed Musicals produces three musicals each season at The Goodspeed in East Haddam, and additional productions, such as this one, at The Terris Theatre.

The Terris Theatre, 33 N. Main St., Chester. Friday, May 17 - June 9. Wednesday 2 and 7:30 p.m., Thursday 7:30 p.m., Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 3 and 8 p.m., Sunday 2 and 6:30 p.m. $49 and up. 860-873-8668