Donna in Denver, Nov 9-15, 1919 at the Broadway Theater


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Donna in Denver, Nov 9-15, 1919 at the Broadway Theater

Donna must have been amazed by the organized chaos that followed the show’s end in Omaha.  It was pack up everything, the trunks of show clothing, as well as the elaborate scenery.  Get it to the train station and head for Denver to be ready to perform there the next day. It was a tight venue change, but the company had done it before. 
Chin Chin ad – 6 Nov 1919 – Denver Post

The Denver pre-show buzz had begun. On November 2nd, a week before the show, the Denver Post reported in “ATTRACTIONS” that, “In the not very far distance there are several big attractions booked for the theaters and picture palaces of Denver. The Dillingham musical comedy, “Chin Chin,” will follow “Seven Days Leave” at the Broadway. On November 6th, ads began to run for “Charles Dillingham’s greatest musical comedy production, ‘CHIN CHIN’. Company of 65 mostly girls, Tom Brown’s famous clown saxophone band.”

Nov. 9th ad.

The “ATTRACTIONS” section of the paper, reported on November 9th, opening night, that “The first Musical Show of the season comes when “Chin Chin” opens at the Broadway Sunday night. This is a bright and gay conglomeration of fun and music that has been one of Dillingham’s most lucrative attractions for several seasons. The promise is that it will be played by a very capable company and that the production is in splendid condition.”

On page 46 of the paper, a large photo of Tom Brown’s famous “Clown Saxaphone Band as a part of “Chin Chin” was displayed. On page 48, we were reminded the show would be there all week with matinees Tuesday and Saturday, 9 shows in all.  With all the whoop-la the patrons must have been unhappy.  The paper on November 10th told us what happened.

“CHIN CHIN” DETAINED
“The storm in western Nebraska and eastern Colorado delayed the Union Pacific rain [sic] carrying the “Chin Chin” company for several hours and it did not arrive until 8 oclock. It was impossible then to have the scenery hung in time for a performance of that Dillingham musical comedy at the Broadway Sunday night. A crowd that would have filled the theater was turned away disappointed. The opening is deferred until Monday night.”

After opening on the 10th, the Denver Post reported on the 11th, in “AMUSEMENTS”:

“CHIN CHIN”
“Delayed but undaunted, “Chin Chin” thrust its musical comedy presence on an anticipating public at the Broadway Monday Night — Just before the fire. 

“Chin Chin” is a real old-fashion later-day musical comedy. It has a plot as thin as the ham in a 10-cent sandwich but that does not need bother. It shows itself only at fleeting and infrequent intervals. “Chin Chin” gives employment to a large bevy of merry, merry, chorus girls. Luxuriantly blonde leading ladies, hard working comedians, cabaret voiced tenors, nimble dancers, a quintette of saxophone players and other entertainers of the same sort. 

Stage at Denver’s Broadway Theater

“It is the duty of these people to furnish simple pleasure to that vast percentage of theatergoers who check their intelligence with their wraps and accept whatover tinkling mirth and melody is passed out to them. The offerings of the many entertainers in “Chin Chin” seemed most acceptable and were accorded more than perfunctory approbation in the way of applause. The greatest hit was scored by the Tom Browne Saxophone Clown band. “Chin Chin” will be played through the remainder of the week and it being the first girl and and music show of the season, will doubtless attract many capacity crowds such as was present at the opening. As for its merits — one will go farther and fair worse.

F. E. W.
The 11th of November 1919 was the first Armistice Day holiday. (WW I ended on 11 AM on 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918.) Denver, like most cities, was busy with various celebrations to celebrate the Armistice.  The Broadway Theater, along with the cast of “Chin Chin” celebrated by having a special Armistice Day matinee on a Tuesday.
Saturday was a particularly busy day for Walter Wills, the cast’s headliner and leading comedian. Besides an afternoon matinee and an evening performance, he was married in the morning.  The Denver Post reported the wedding

CHIN-CHIN COMEDIAN WEDS CHORUS GIRL
‘The tinseled pretenses of the footlights were abandoned for romantic reality Saturday morning, when Walter S. Wills, leading comedian with the Chin-Chin company at the Broadway, appeared at the court house with Miss Nora Seiler on his arm and asked to be united in wedlock. Magistrate W. A. Rice married them. Miss Seiler is a member of the Chin-Chin chorus.”

The Broadway Theater


The Broadway Theater was one of the most respected theaters of its time. It opened in 1890, and had a stage forty feet deep and seventy-five feet high. According to Cinema Treasures, the theater hosted everything from grand opera to musicals and high drama, lectures, concerts, vaudeville, benefits, and school pageants.
The theater was converted to a movie theater in 1935.  A few years later it was converted to a Trader Vic’s, which was a popular tavern. 
The Broadway Theater was demolished in 1956 to make way for the Mile High Center and a Wells Fargo branch building. 

Today the site looks like.

Next, Donna and the Chin Chin company go to Pueblo.

Sources: 
Denver Post (Denver, CO) November 2, 1919, Page 51 via Genealogy Bank
Denver Post (Denver, CO) November 6, 1919, Page 14 via Genealogy Bank
Denver Post (Denver, CO) November 9, 1919, Pages 45, 46, & 48 via Genealogy Bank
Denver Post (Denver, CO) November 10, 1919, Page 4 via Genealogy Bank
Denver Post (Denver, CO) November 11, 1919, Page 6 & 15 via Genealogy Bank
Denver Post (Denver, CO) November 12, 1919, Page 18 via Genealogy Bank
Denver Post (Denver, CO) November 15, 1919, Page 12 via Genealogy Bank
Cinema Treasurers – Broadway Theater 
Google Maps 

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