'When Jenny Lind Came To Town'
Play focuses on Lind's 1851 Madison performance
Thursday, October 04, 2012 11:00 AM
A play about European soprano Jenny Lind's performance in Madison in 1851 will premiere this month.
"When Jenny Lind Came To Town," which is called a fact-based, fictionalized play, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14. It is an independent production that will be performed at Fitzgibbon Recital Hall in the Lynn Center for Fine Arts at Hanover College.
The production will include Jenny Lind songs and other music of the period.
The play is about Lind's performance in a Madison hog slaughterhouse at Second and Mulberry streets during her American tour, which famous promoter P.T. Barnum had arranged because "The Swedish Nightingale" drew such large audiences in Europe.
That's the fact part. The fiction part is how Madison resident Billy Wilson - there really was such a person - persuaded Barnum to bring Lind to Madison. Little is known about Wilson, said Mike Smith of Shelbyville, Ky., who wrote the musical and is the producer. So Smith used his imagination to come up with reasons Wilson just had to have an international star perform here.
"Wilson not only wants to give Madison something spectacular to be proud of, but also wants to impress a young schoolteacher who has captured his heart," according to a press release for the show. "Unfortunately, her parents do not approve of their daughter's suitor because of his many hair-brained schemes. But Wilson pulls this one off..."
Most of the cast members are professionals, mostly from the Louisville, Ky., area. Jenna Underhill, who will portray Jenny Lind, is the assistant director of the production.
Smith was a longtime journalist and as a hobby collected tickets from various performances. A Jenny Lind ticket from 1851 was in a collection on e-Bay, so he bought the collection, but did not know much about Lind. He read that she had performed in Louisville and at a pork house in Madison, and became intrigued.
The 1851 Jenny Lind ticket will be auctioned at the Friday night production, and Lind memorabilia will be raffled to help raise funds for the show, Smith said.
Tickets are on sale now. Tickets for adults are $12.50 in advance and $15 at the door; for seniors 65 and older and for Hanover College staff, faculty and students, $10 in advance and $12 at the door; and for high school age children and younger, $5.
To order tickets, call Smith at (502) 633-9100, or co-producer Pat Whitney of Madison at (812) 265-6296.
Playwright/Producer: Mike Smith
Co-producer: Pat Whitney
Director: Bill Breuer
Musical director: Lynne McReynolds Chenault
Assistant director: Jenna Underhill
Cast: Jenna Underhill, James Butterfield, Phyl Breuer, Heather Anderson, John Finnegan, Thomas Dunbar, David Despain, Herb Whitney, Emily Miller and Heather Anderson
Acting ensemble/chorus: Emily Miller, Madison Anderson, Kelley Amaya, Norma Thieman, Gary Crockett, Rachel Robinson, Ken Weikel, Judy Crippin, Heather Anderson, Cindy Schrader, Josh Smith, Mary Nelson Litty, Anna James Litty, Zachary Hisle.
Stage manager: Julie Yates Mayfield
Operations crew: Ken Weikel, Debra Wilkins
Dramaturg: Phyl Breuer