Last weekend, my husband and I attended the musical “When Jenny Lind Came to Town” in the Fitzgibbon Recital Hall at Hanover College. To be honest, my knowledge of Jenny Lind was limited before attending the production. I had always seen the historical marker in Madison stating that Lind visited my hometown in 1851, but I never knew what she was famous for. After viewing this weekend’s play, I now know what a big deal it was for someone like Lind to visit this town, and I have a greater appreciation for what the citizens of Madison probably had to do in order to accommodate her.
To put it in everyday terms, Jenny Lind was basically one of the world’s first pop stars. A talented soprano from Sweden, Lind was widely popular in Europe. P.T. Barnum brought her to North America where she filled concert halls in many major cities and people paid big bucks to see her. I suppose today’s equivalent would be front-row Super Bowl tickets. So this puts a little bit of perspective on the historical fact that Lind gave a concert in Madison, Ind.
In the play, a Madison resident is responsible for arranging the concert, which seems impossible to his friends and family. I won’t give away the plot, but I couldn’t help but feel proud of the dramatized version of Madison, which is portrayed as a hard-working and, mostly hospitable town. To me, this epitomizes the spirit of Madison. It is a small city with many small, but interesting claims to fame such our expansive National Historic Landmark District, providing the backdrop for two major motion pictures, and being home to the natural wonder of the 1 million year old Big Clifty Falls. Madison residents seem to know what a special place this is, and the Jenny Lind story is another jewel in the crown of Madison legacies.
If you are interested in seeing the show, it will have another run in Louisville, Ky, where Jenny Lind also performed on her American tour. The Louisville production will be April 5-7 at the Clifton Center. The play was written by Kentucky playwright Mike Smith and directed by Bill Breuer. For updates you can check the Facebook page