Donna and Chin Chin in Pueblo, 18 Nov 1919


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We do not know if the company took off on November 16th and 17th or played somewhere we do not have a newspaper record of. Based upon Walter Wills and Nora Seiler being married on the 15th, I suspect that the company had two days off before they began shows again. In any event, the Chin Chin company passed by Colorado Springs to go to Pueblo for one night show, on November 18th,  at the Grand Theater. 
Small towns, like Pueblo was in 1919, often have the greatest coverage of an event like “Chin Chin” coming to town.  Pueblo was no exception to having a lot of coverage of the event.  Pre-show coverage for the Pueblo engagement began November 9th, 1919.  The Pueblo Chieftain reported:

“CHIN CHIN” COMING NEXT

The Pueblo Chieftain used this photo, however, due to the quality of the
Newspaper copy, this is a better quality image from jass.com
It is with a great deal of pleasure, in fact pride, that Manager Anderson of the Grand theater announces the coming of Charles Dillingham’s greatest musical comedy success, “Chin Chin” on Tuesday, November 18.
This play appeared first at at the Globe theater in New York for two solid years, and is now on a transcontinental trip touring the west for the first time. 
In the leading roles will be seen Walter Wills and roy Binder, who came to us with the stamp of approval won in such productions as “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Red Mill,” “Hitchy Koo,” etc., etc., etc.
The company is acceded to be the largest musical comedy aggregation on the road today, comprising sixty-five people, mostly girls and Tom Brown’s famous Clown Saxaphone band. Charles Dillingham’s name is associated with the biggest and best theatrical enterprises, such as the Hippodrome and Glove theater in New York. Some of his latest productions are “Jack O’Lantern,” with Julia Sanderson and Joe Cawthorp; “Hip, Hip, Hooray,” with 1200 associates, and “Everything,” which has surpassed all records at the New York Hippodrome during the season 1918-1919.
“Chin Chin” is a fantastic production, rich in Oriental and Old English costuming. In seven sets, including the most startling surprises, ingenious trickery and grotesque dancing in plenty, affording an entertainment that is clean and wholesome, proving hilarious amusement for both young and old, which qualities are the making of and particular success of the theatrical magnate, Charles Dillingham.
Absolute capacity houses have greeted “Chin Chin” everywhere, therefor mail orders should be dispatched immediately to insure location desired.  
The next day, November 10, 1919, the Pueblo Chieftain reported on page 2 more about the show.

“CHIN CHIN”

Charles Dillingham’s production, “Chin-Chin,” one of the biggest hits emanating from Broadway, will be presented at the Grand Opera House on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

Altho the name savors of the Oriental the show is intensely American.

Aladdin and his lamp, toys coming to life. Teddy bears dancing and similar things give the watcher the feeling of taking part in a good fairy tale and recall of the Teddies for more of their amusing dance is expressive of the sort of fun one has through the play.

In Fact, a chorus which can really dance, adds to the rhythmic effect in tone and motion which the designers of such entertainment mean to give. Really pretty chorus girls who can sing and dance, wearing the most picturesque Chinese and fancy costumes, effective stage settings, giving colorful backgrounds for the work of the principals and chorus, much fun and clever solo work make up n entertainment of unusual merit.


The Pueblo Chieftain continued the “Chin Chin” hype on the 11th were it reported:

“CHIN CHIN”

At the Grand Opera house Tuesday night, November 18, the everlasting “Chin Chin” is announced. There is but one company presenting this, the greatest American musical comedy.

Seven gorgeous settings make up the stupendous production of Charles Dillingham’s “Chin Chin.”  The principal comedians are Walter Wills and Roy Binder.

The book is by Anne Caldwell and R. H. Burnside, the lyrics by Miss Caldwell and James O’Dea, the music by Ivan Caryll, so well remembered for his ingratiating melodies in “The Pink Lady” and “The Little Cafe.”

This riot of run, feast of music, bevy of feminine beauty with pretty dresses, swift and grotesque dancing and lots of prankish amusement, including Tom Brown’s Clown Band as the famous Saxophone Sextette, promises a most enjoyable entertainment, with Charles Dillingham’s own company presenting this wonderful spectacle. 

In this musically rich show such numbers as “Violet”, “The Grey Moon”, “The Love Moon”, “Good-bye Girls, I’m Thru”, and the comedy song, “Go Gar Sig Gong-Jue”, always receive spontaneous applause. Seat sale opens Saturday.

A similar article appeared in the November 12th Pueblo Chieftain newspaper.  Besides the above information, it added that “‘Chin Chin‘ has rivaled even ‘Flordora‘ in its popularity.”  It also added that, “even during war times ‘Chin Chin‘ has been doing a record business on the road, near army camps and elsewhere.” It also reiterates that, “‘Chin Chin’ is a show that is clean and wholesome fun, offending no one.”
   
The buzz was kept alive with an article, in the November 13th, 1919, issue of the Pueblo Chieftain, which included photos of some of the cast.
The photographs printed aren’t of sufficient quality to determine if Donna is shown in the cast photos.

Aladdin In Modern Setting In “Chin  Chin”

Do you remember when you were just a tiny chap, how you would read the “Thousand and One Nights” or the wonderful adventures of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” and “Sinbad, the Sailor,” and all the rest of those fascinating characters, and how from out of them all emerged “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” as the prime adventure of them all?  And not Aladdin – a very modern aladdin – very much in love with an American girl appears in Charles Dillingham’s “Chin Chin” which comes to the Grand Opera house Tuesday, November 18. In this musical concoction everything comes Aladdin’s way upon wishing and rubbing the wonderful lamp, thereby causing many strange and wonderful situations.

Walter Wills and Roy Binder as the two slaves of the lamp keep the audience in constant laughter through seven scenes and the three acts that cover one hundred and fifty minutes of the most enjoyable fun. 

Among the many features in this gigantic show are also the Teddy Bear Dance, Tom Brown’s Clown Saxophone Band, a real circus tent with an “honest-to-goodness” big white circus horse circling around the ring while Mlle. Falloffski performs the most daring and screamingly funny bareback stunts.

On November 14, 1919, the Pueblo Chieftain ran another article regarding “Chin Chin” titled. “The Evolution of ‘Chin Chin.’”

There appears to be no doubt that Charles Dillingham’s stupendous production of “Chin Chin” with Walter Wills and Roy Binder in the lead will duplicate its record of absolute capacity audiences at the Grand theater on next Tuesday night.
It was during the run of “The Lady and the Slipper” that “Chin Chin” was evolved.

The idea of a circus horse and Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp found favor with Charles Dillingham for a production of magnitude and wonders.

Several months elapsed before Mr. Dillingham was in a position to send for Anne Caldwell and R. H. Burnside and to hand them over the matter that had been collected by manager and comedians. Upon completion of the book, lyrics had to be written. Miss Caldwell had to submit a series of songs and those in turn were discussed carefully.  With the book and lyrics in completed form, Ivan Caryll, the composer, was called into conference. He went to the South of France to write his music. In the meanwhile Charles Dillingham put himself into communication with Wilhelm, an eEnglish artist, and the scheme of coloring seen in “Chin Chin” was evolved. Then came into action those responsible for the mechanical construction of the scenery — electricians and property makers.

After months of labor and research everything was in shape for Burnside to begin his labor in making the whole matter practical by rehearsing the company. The final outcome of the matter was an expenditure of $75,000 before the curtain could be raised on the first presentation of “Chin Chin.” The result was the biggest Charles Dillingham success. Seat sale opens tomorrow.


On the 15th, The Pueblo Chieftain ran another story in anticipation of “Chin Chin’s” arrival.  I pretty much covered the same information that previous articles covered, however, there was a new photo of Walter Wills and Roy Binder shown. 

The 16th saw the first ads for Chin Chin in the Pueblo Chieftain along with an article that included a large photo of 12 of the girls in the show along with photos of Walter and Roy.  Again the quality of the newspaper image is not good enough to tell if Donna is included.  The accompanying article is multi column and multi-page. Although the article provides much of the color and sounds of the show, it doesn’t provide much additional insight.

The Grand Opera House in Pueblo was built in 1890. When built, it was the largest theater in Colorado seating 1,200 people at a cost of $350,000. The building was destroyed by fire March 1, 1922. The loss was put at $700,000. Photos of the building after the fire show lots of ice so it must have been a miserable fire to fight.

Grand Opera Theater after 1922 fire

Today, the northwest corner of 4th and Main does not have the splendor that the old opera house had. It is a rather plain, nondescript, four story building.  

Sources: 

Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO), November 9, 1919, Page 17 via Genealogy Bank
Jazz Roots, Before Coleman Hawkens

Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO), November 10, 1919, Page 2 via Genealogy Bank
Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO), November 11, 1919, Page 9 via Genealogy Bank
Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO), November 13, 1919, Page 8 via Genealogy Bank
Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO), November 14, 1919, Page 6 via Genealogy Bank
Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO), November 15, 1919, Page 8 via Genealogy Bank
Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO), November 16, 1919, Page 15 via Genealogy BankUS Gen Web Archives (Colorado Postcards)
Opera in Old Colorado, Opera Houses, Pueblo, Grand Opera House.
Gen Disasters, Pueblo, CO Grand Opera House Fire, Feb 1922

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