The Tooth Fairy usually just dispenses money, but with the help of Cambridge Savings Bank, she's also leaving behind some financial wisdom.
The Cambridge, Mass., bank has teamed up with the Youth Underground, a teen ensemble of the Underground Railway Theater, to present "Money Matters," a show about money management and financial literacy.
The play uses the Tooth Fairy as a narrator to tie together lessons about sound financial practices taken from interviews with 30 people in the community. The Tooth Fairy is used since she is usually one of children's first experiences with money, said Susan Lapierre, Cambridge's senior vice president of community relations.
"This makes it fun and interesting as these individual stories are being weaved together," Lapierre said. "The Tooth Fairy character brings in the educational elements to make sure the message is coming across."
Cambridge provided financial literacy training to the teenage actors, who imitate the mannerisms of the people they interviewed, and also consulted on the script.
Many banks provide financial literacy programs to their communities, but Cambridge's efforts are more effective because the bank presents the information in an interactive and visual way, said Evan Diamond, Cambridge's financial education program manager. For example, the show includes the tale of one person who had to decide whether to buy groceries or pay the utility bill. The person chose groceries, Lapierre said.
"When the lights go off because the utility bill is not paid, it has a dramatic effect," Diamond said. "Kids respond to the visual."
Money Matters will do its first three shows this weekend and will eventually travel to schools for additional performances.
Besides the Money Matters show, Cambridge also has a financial curriculum that includes interactive games like Red Flag Alert. In Red Flag Alert, Diamond, who has done a bit of acting himself, including a stint in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as a child, acts out some of the most common scams. Students wave red flags when they hear something suspicious.
"This is engaging the audience in a non-textbook way," Diamond added.