Chin Chin – Bennington Opera House – 13 May 1920

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Bennington Opera House, Bennington, Vermont, on 13 May 1920

Vaudeville
Chin Chin

We know “Chin Chin” played in Paterson New Jersey on May 7th and 8th. However, we don’t know where the show played during the four-day gap before they played at the Bennington Opera House.

Pre-show Advertising

Pre-show advertising began with a standard “TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC” announcement signed by J.B. Harte that the show would be at the Opera House Thursday, 13 May, for one night only. Along with the display ad was a brief text note that read:

“CHIN CHIN” COMING

Melodious Chinese Fantasy Coming Next Week.

Manager of the Bennington Opera house announces Charles Dilling’s only company presenting that wonderful spectacle “Chin Chin” as his attraction for Thursday night, on May 13.

This play appeared first at the Globe Theatre in New York for two solid years, and has since proven a big sensation to the playgoers in every town where this popular play was presented. 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 Ox,” “The Red Mill,” “Hitchy Koo,” etc., etc.

The ensuing newspapers contained regular “Chin Chin” displays ads and a few short show descriptions, such this ad the day of the show:

Bennington Evening Banner – May 13, 1920, Page 2, Column 1 & 2. Courtesy Chronicaling America

“CHIN CHIN” TONIGHT

Chinese in Name Only—Full of Fun and Harmony

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 Opera House this evening.

Though the title of “Chin Chin” suggests a Chinese setting, it appears that the scenes are not laid anywhere near the Celestial Land.

There is no leading lady in this organization. Although a number of beautiful women, principals and otherwise, songbirds and actresses are in the cast, it appears the she who is to enjoy the place of honor as the first favorite is left to the choice of the public.

Tom Brown of the Six Brown Brothers’ famous Saxophone clown band composed “The Moaning Saxophone Rag,” which is one of the hits of the play.

Post Show Info

I haven’t discovered where the show played the next night, but the night after, 15 May, it played at the Empire Theatre in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Bennington Opera House,
Bennington, Vermont

Bennington Opera House – The entrance was under the tower section to the right of the telephone pole.

The Bennington Opera House was built by Henry Putnam and opened with a production of Macbeth on December 10, 1892. On May 31, 1915, the venue opened with moving pictures – Two reels of William Submarine Pictures and the “seven-reel” film “The Black Box.”

A fire destroyed the theatre on February 10, 1959.

Specifications for the Bennington Opera House

The theater seating capacity was 1,036, which consisted of 529 seats on the main floor, 135 seats in the balcony, 350 in the gallery, and 22 box seats.

Proscenium opening: 36×38 ft
Front to back wall: 40 ft
Between side walls: 61 ft
Apron 3 ft
Between fly girders: 44 ft
7 Dressing rooms

The theater was set way back from the entrance, as this Sanborn map portrays.

All of my newspaper sources were from the Bennington Evening Banner However, the “Democrat” of Hoosick Falls, NY, and the “Journal” of Manchester, VT may also have articles and advertisements about the show which should be reviewed.

Today a replacement building (a bank) is vacant.

Sources

Newspaper articles, Bennington Evening Banner, Library of Congress, Chronicling America.

The Cahn-Leighton Official Theatrical Guide 1913-1914, Page 644 – Vermont,  Bennington paragraph.

Cinema Treasures – General Stark Theatre in Bennington, VT accessed 15 April 2020. http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/14074 

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Bennington, Bennington County, Vermont -Image 2 – Library of Congress.

Bennington Museum website. Photo Records. “Opera House Search.”

Vermont Digital Newspaper Project (VTDNP) – THE BENNINGTON OPERA HOUSE, THROUGH THE LENS OF HISTORIC NEWSPAPERS, Accessed 15 April 2020. http://library.uvm.edu/vtnp/?p=1101

 

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