My name is Mike Smith and I am a retired writer and communications and marketing employee and recently I completed my second play, which recently opened for a two-day run in Madison, Indiana and will be coming to Louisville for five days next April. The name of the play is "When Jenny Lind Came To Town".
During my professional career, I served as a sportswriter in Kentucky, Indiana and Arizona and spent 10 years in Communications and Marketing at the University of Louisville. I have also written several books, most pertaining to basketball. I also compiled an unpublished biography about the late Patsy Cline, a coffee table book on ticket collecting, a genealogy pertaining to the Hollingsworth family and another about my growing up years in Louisville's Crescent Hill neighborhood, spanning from 1945 until the spring of 1950. I am the father of two daughters and have eight grandchildren.
As for this project:
Ever wish you could travel back through time? Here is an opportunity to witness a show that featured one of the greatest sopranos the world had ever seen – Jenny Lind – before the invention of recordings. Produced by the world’s greatest promoter, P.T. Barnum, taking Jenny Lind on tour was his chance to show the world that he could provide audiences a cultural experience. Even before an "English Invasion" in the U.S., America welcomed the "Swedish Nightingale!" Come join us in the reenactment of this event and hear the first “vocal superstar” in "When Jenny Lind Came to Town!” just as she appeared in 1851.
That’s right! Jenny Lind, who performed in Louisville and Madison, Ind., the week of April 7, 1851, is making a “return visit” in Kentucky playwright Mike Smith’s mid-1800s musical production of “When Jenny Lind Came to Town,” starting with a five-day run at the Clifton Center in Louisville April 3-7, 2013.
Featuring professional actors from Kentucky and Indiana, the production portrays pork house worker Billy Wilson who has been trying without success to move ahead in the community and win the hand of schoolteacher Mary Fremont. Upon reading reports in The Madison Courier that the great Jenny Lind is going to perform concerts in Louisville and Cincinnati, Wilson launches a plan for her to perform one concert in Madison. He must first obtain the approval of Barnum and raise $5,000 to fund the event. The tale that follows intertwines the playwright’s dream to tell an embellished version of the event that put Madison on the map and Billy’s dream to give the city a “crowning achievement.” The story is a testament to the spirit of the townspeople in 1851; the same camaraderie alive in the 1970s when Madison won the Gold Cup; the same spirit that remains strong here in both Louisville and historic Madison today. It would be 24 years before an event known as the Kentucky Derby would first be run in Louisville.
I know this is a good play and it received excellent critiques from our run at Hanover College. But in order to bring it full circle in Louisville, my budget is high. We have commitments from several top notch cast members and have obtained the services of an outstanding director and musical director, who between them probably have more than 50 years experience. There are also the usual play expenses, including stage props, costumes, equipment that must be rented, sound and lighting, theater rental, etc.
Madison, Indiana is considering making this an annual event, to be held in April of each year, adding the possibility of a Jenny Lind Festival with the play as the featured attraction. We have music from the time period, just as Jenny Lind performed at Mozart Hall in Louisville and at a porkhouse in Madison.
Please help us in this endeavor.