Donna in Salt Lake City, November 24th & 25th, 1919 at the Salt Lake Theater.

After the one night show in Rock Springs, WY, the “Chin Chin” company packed up and headed to Salt Lake City for two nights at the Salt Lake Theater.
Salt Lake Telegram
November 15, 1919 – Page 7

Pre-show hype began on November 15th with an article, “Melody and Artistry Aid ‘Chin Chin’ to Big Success” in the Salt Lake Telegram.  The article mentions some of the songs by name and, of course, Walter Wills and Roy Binder. An ad, also in that day’s paper, let us know that the prices range from 50 cents to $2.50 (to $2.00 for the matinee).  Most important for us a display article with a photo of “the four leading ladies” was printed.  At this point, Donna was certainly one of the leading ladies of the show (see below), however, neither photos at either Genealogy Bank or the Utah Digital Newspapers site provide enough detail to be certain that Donna is portrayed.  This was a real find as I have never seen this photo anywhere before. I believe Donna is the person on the right.

The 16th brought more advertisements but also a photo of Walter Wills and Roy Binder in their roles. I had not seen that photo anywhere before either. There were a couple ads in the paper on the 20th.
On the 21st, an article, “Mock Love Leads to Real Thing by Stage Stars” The article lets readers know that Walter Wills and Nora Seiler were married the week before.  Mr. Wills takes the part of “Chin Hop Hi” and Miss Seiler [Mrs.Wills] the part of “Moon Blossom.”
Salt Lake City Tribune November 16, 1919

The November 22nd paper (Salt Lake Telegram) has a lovely article, “Chin Chin, Gotham Musical Hit, Coming to Salt Lake,” which describes the sets, costumes, and sounds of the production.  There is also a photo of sixteen of the women who are in the show. I am sure that Donna is included in the photos, but the quality isn’t quite good enough to be certain.

The November 23rd paper has an article in the “At the Theaters” section which calls Donna out by name.

DO YOU remember when 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 now Aladdin—a very modern Aladdin—very much in love with an American girl appears in Charles Dillingham’s “Chin Chin” which comes to the Salt Lake theatre tomorrow night with matinee Tuesday. 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 150 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.

Other principals with this, the only production of’ “Chin Chin” are: Donna Montran, Edna Peekham, Jessie Walsh, Violet Tree, Nora Seiler, Ethel Lawrence, Marie Cavanaugh, Helen McDonald, Margaret Sharps, Joseph Robinson, Carlton Reager, Richard Bosch, English Cody and George Phelps, also Joseph Boyle and Thomas Bell as “Frisco” horse, and a largo singing chorus of pretty girls.

The 24th brings several ads, notes regarding the schedule at the theater and an article, “‘Chin Chin’ to Open Tonight at Salt Lake. A review on the 25th mentions, in an article, “Chinesy Musical Comedy Pleases At Salt Lake,” that “there isn’t a New York cast, but that is nothing to scoff about. To the contrary, there are a bunch of people in the cast who do not appear worn to tatters by a season on Broadway. The chorus appears fresh; the girls are pretty and their costumes are new and pleasing.”


The article goes on to to mention Walter Wills, Roy Binder, Carlton Reiger and Ethel Lawrence by name.

The Salt Lake Theater

Salt Lake Theatre – Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Brigham Young announced the project and pursued its completion in 1861, eight years before the transcontinental Railroad was complete, which linked Salt Lake City with both the east and the west. The Salt Lake Theater was large for its day, with an estimated capacity of 1,500.  Amazingly large to support a city of only 12,000 people at the time.

That original theater was renovated in 1873, a renovation which gave the interior an elegance similar to the opera houses of Europe while maintaining the simple lines of the exterior.

The last performance at the theater was 20 October 1928.  A battle ensued with many people wanting to preserve the theater.

Eventually, the theater was razed to make way for a gas station.  The gas station was replaced in 1963 with six story building, which today houses an AT&T office, a Century Link office, and several other businesses.  There is an historical plaque remembering the theater, at its original location which is now 70 South State Street.

Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 15, 1919, Pages 7 & ?  via Genealogy Bank and Utah Digital Newspapers
Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 16, 1919, Pages  ?  via Utah Digital Newspapers
Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 20, 1919, Pages  ?  via Utah Digital Newspapers
Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 21, 1919, Pages 21 & ?  via Genealogy Bank and Utah Digital Newspapers
Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 22, 1919, Pages 18, 7 & ?  via Genealogy Bank and Utah Digital Newspapers
Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 23, 1919, Page ?  via and Utah Digital Newspapers
Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 24, 1919, Pages 15 & ?  via Genealogy Bank and Utah Digital Newspapers
Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 25, 1919, Pages 10 & ?  via Genealogy Bank and Utah Digital Newspapers
History to Go –  Salt Lake Theater

Historical Marker Database – The Salt Lake Theater


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