I haven’t discovered where the “Chin Chin” cast were immediately before they arrived at the Nelson Theatre in Logansport, Indiana on February 19th. We know they were in Madison, WI for Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14th, but are still unsure where they were from the 15th through the 18th, immediately before the one night show in Logansport.
The trials and tribulations of a show on the road is evidenced by the Logansport Pharos-Tribune on February 13th. Apparently, back on February 8th, the Barnett Hotel caught fire and was destroyed. With the “Chin Chin” cast coming to town there were not enough hotel rooms available for the cast of 55 members. Because of that, the cast would use sleeper cars during their stay[i].
Logansport Pharos-Tribune – Feb 13, 1920 · Page 2
HOTELS ALL FULL SO
SHOW COMPANY WILL
STAY IN SLEEPERS
Logansport’s loss in hotel accommodations, occasioned by the fire that destroyed the Barnett hotel last Sunday afternoon, made itself conspicuous yesterday when Jack Goettler, advance agent for “Chin Chin,” the Charles Dillingham production to be staged at the Nelson next Thursday, was unable to secure hotel accommodations for the company that will present the attraction here.
There are 55 members in the company, and Goettler sought all the local hostelries in his efforts to make reservations for the members. Before leaving the city last night, the advance agent said the company would come to Logansport in sleepers which would be used to house the people during their stay here.
|Donna is probably the 2nd from Left
Source: Logansport Pharos-Tribune
February 14, 1920, Page 5
Also on the 14th was a picture of “The Four Leading Ladies of Chin Chin” Although the quality of the photo isn’t very good, it appears that Donna is the woman 2nd from left.
News on the 15th focused upon the show being an extravaganza and included photos of the bareback riders in the show which we have seen before.
An article on the 17th was really interesting as it explained something of the unknown previously [ii].
Salaries Are Higher
In “Chin Chin”
“Handsome is as handsome does,” is not applicable in the selection of the chorus of the present day musical comedy. The demand for a beauty chorus has increased the salaries of the fair young girls more than 100 per cent in the past ten years. In 190? the average salary was $15.00 per week. Today the lowest salary of a “Chin Chin” girl is $30, and range from that figure to $50.00 for the “first row girls.”
The American chorus girl recognized as the best in the world, receives many times the amount paid to the “flappers” of London or the “ensemble” of Paris. In London two pound is the average, while in Paris 132 francs is the highest salary paid.
In “Chin Chin” which comes to the Nelson theatre Thursday night, there are thirty girls, the average salary is #35.00 and the season last 40 weeks, bring the total charged to $42,000
In 1900 a company in a musical comedy usually had twenty-four girls with the salary of $15.00 the total paid was 0 the total paid was $12,499. So today the manager charges $29,600 to the “high cost of beauty.”
We know Donna was a “front row girl” so we can assume she earned $50.00 per week.
On the 18th, there is an article which mentions that “Chin Chin” will be greeted by a Full House and there was an unusual demand for tickets. There is also mention of an article in the Memphis Tenn. News Scimstar that the show played at the New Lyric apparently the Sunday night proceeding. [Possibly the 15th.]
|1920-02-14 – Logansport Pharos-Tribune|
On show day, February 19th, 1920 there is a very interesting photo of two of the cast members. There are errors between the header & footer. It shows Aladdin and the American Girl but it mentions that it is playing at the Colonial Theater for three days. A definite mistake but the costumes clearly appear to be “Chin Chin.” There is also a photo of the 16 “Chin Chinners” (women staring in the show, a short article, and the regular “Chin Chin” advertising.
The day after the show, an after show review ran in the paper as well. In it Donna is mentioned.
Miss Montran as the Goddess of the Lamp, was delightfully charming, and her rich, musical voice captivated the audience with her first solo, “Violet” and gained her more favor when she sane “The Gray Dove.”
The Nelson Theater
The Nelson theatre opened in 1908[iii]. It was renovated in 1917 and reopened to the public on 6 November, 1917, as the Majestic Theatre.[iv] Sometime between then and 1920 it must have changed its name back as it was called the Nelson Theater when Donna and Chin Chin played there on 19 Feb 1920. According to Cinema Treasures it was renamed the Luna Theatre in 1921. This is confirmed by the 1922 Supplement to the Julius Cahn Gus Hill Theatrical Guide, which lists the theater as the Luna. Interestingly enough the manager in the 1922 supplement, H. R. Byerly must be the same person as the Harlow Byerly who announced the “Chin Chin” show coming to the Nelson in 1920[v]. Apparently there wasn’t a management change between the Nelson and the Luna theatres as is typical when theaters are renamed or change hands. The 1922 Guide also indicates that the theater capacity didn’t change between during the 1917 renovation and 1922. The theater held 1190 people, 422 on the floor level, 320 in the balcony, 400 in the gallery, and 48 in the boxes[vi].
According to Cinema Treasures, the theater was renamed the Roxy Theatre in November 1934 and operated into at least the early 1950s. It was closed in the late 1950s and stood unused into the 1970s[vii].
I have been unable to find a photo of the Nelson Theater that may be used on this site. There is an excellent photo on Flickr at https://c2.staticflickr.com/2/1182/5126153267_4793abb028.jpg which shows the Barnett Hotel and the Nelson Theater were next door to each other. I’ll bet you could smell the Barnett during the show at the Nelson only 11 days after the fire.
Look for “Chin Chin” playing at the New Lyric in Memphis, TN, possibly the 15th of February. Check the News Scimstar for articles.
[Update: I have been unable to find any Memphis newspapers from February 1920 on line. Also, the Logansport paper mist named the Memphis paper. It should have been the News Scimitar. The Library of Congress indicates that
Tennessee State Libr & Arch, Nashville, TN
Univ of Memphis, Memphis, TN
are both holding, however, neither have February 1920 issues. The Tennessee State Library & Archive indicates that they may have the issues in question. I will put a visit there on my wish list.]