“Chin Chin” – Colonial Theatre – Pittsfield, MA – 15 May 1920.

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA, on 15 May 1920.

Vaudeville
Chin Chin
Donna Montran

“Chin Chin” played at the Bennington, Vermont, Opera House on May 13th and the Empire Theater in North Adams on the 14th. Then the show moved the 20 miles south to play at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA on Saturday, the 15th.

Advertising for the show began on the 8th of May with an ad showing “Chin Chin” would be coming for “One Night Only” on May 15th. On the 10th, a quick little note said, “’Chin Chin’ at Colonial – Manager Raymond has booked Charles Dillingham’s ‘Chin Chin,’ with Walter Wills and Ray Binder for the Colonial Saturday night.”

The Berkshire Eagle reported Monday, after the show:

The Berkshire Eagle – May 17, 1920

“Chin Chin” with Walter Wills and Roy Binder in the leading roles played to a good-sized audience at the Colonial theatre Saturday evening. It was the second one night stand in two days despite this that there was a large attendance. Like other Dillingham shows it was a wonderful production.

The play is a modern version of the famous old Arabian Nights tale of “Aladdin, or the Wonderful Lamp.” Messrs. Wills and Binder become a couple of Chinamen who have more or less adventures in the pursuit of the lamp which brought its possessor all kinds of happiness. The musical numbers were very sweet and catchy.

Among the many features in this gigantic show are the Teddy Bear dance, Tom Brown’s 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. Tom Brown’s band was one of the big hits of the evening.

Theater

Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield, MA – (Photo courtesy of Granola via Cinema Treasures)

The Colonial Theatre was built in 1903 but burned in 1912. It underwent extensive renovation and reopened with state-of-the-art theatrical technology, in 1912.

The 1921 Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory indicated that the Pittsfield Colonial Theatre was operated by the Goldstein Bros. Amusement Co. and managed by L. H. Raymond. The theater played legitimate theater, stock, and picture attractions.[i] It had a seating capacity of 487 on the main floor, 309 in the balcony, 350 in the gallery, and 72 in the Box seats for a total capacity of 1218.

Specifications for the Colonial Theatre

Proscenium opening: 32 ft
Front to back wall: 45 ft
Between side walls: 58 ft
Apron 5 ft
Between fly girders: 46 ft
To rigging loft: 64 ft
Between fly galleries: 40 ft
The theatre had 8 Dressing rooms

Photo courtesy: Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/masstravel/ (CC BY-ND 2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
Photo courtesy: Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).

The theatre operated until 1934 when it closed due to the Depression. It reopened in 1937 as a movie theater with occasional community performances. It closed in 1952 and became a paint and art supply business. In 1998, the theatre was designated a National Historic Treasure. In 2001, the Colonial Theatre Association began a restoration of the building. In 2006, the theatre reopened to the public with its vaulted gilded enterence, elaborately decorated boxes and balcony, and exquisite ornamental detail.[ii]

Today

The Colonial Theatre of Pittsfield, MA, is a beautifully renovated facility.

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Endnotes

[i] (1921). The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill theatrical guide and moving picture directory. New York, N.Y.: Julius Cahn-Gus Hill via Hathi Trust – https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924063709764&view=1up&seq=7 – Accessed 21 July 2020.

[ii] Internet: Berkshire Theatre Group website, “History of the Colonial Theatre” https://www.berkshiretheatregroup.org/berkshire-theatre-group/history-of-the-colonial-theatre/ – Accessed 21 July 2020.

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