“Chin-Chin” – Regina Theatre – Regina, Saskatchewan – April 15-17, 1920

Donna Montran
Chin-Chin
Vaudeville

We know that Chin-Chin played in Calgary, Alberta on January 8th through the 10th, but don’t know where it played on the 11th thru the 14th.  Possibly Saskatoon, they probably played in another city or two as well on their way to Regina.

A full twelve days before opening in Regina the first advertising began for “Chin-Chin.”

“CHIN-CHIN” HAS MELODIOUS AND ARTISTIC SETTINGS

Melodious, artistic and diverting is “Chin Chin,” scheduled for the Regina theatre for three days, commencing Thursday, January 15. To Walter Wills and Roy Binder are entrusted the principal parts, supported by a company of clever comedians and a beautiful chorus. In their songs “The Chinese Honeymoon, “Go Gar Sig Gong-Jue” and “Temple Bells,” the two clever comedians, Wills and Binder, make a decided bit and are always recalled again and again. In this charming fantasy with a Chinese atmosphere there are also a score of other songs that are the fascinating, whistling kind, and several unique dances that carry the snappy comedy along delightfully.

On January 9th, there was a standard “to the General Public” announcement similar to many of the “Chin-Chin” shows. On the 10th was a “What the Press Agents Say” article plus the first regular advertisements.

On January 14th, the day before the show, the Regina “Leader-Post” newspaper had a very interesting article containing background information regarding the Arabian Nights tales.

CHIN CHIN’ FANTASY
COMEDY KNOCKS’EM
ALL COLD AT REGINA

Charles Dillingham’s only company of “Chin Chin,” which comes to the Regina theatre tomorrow, Friday and Saturday, with a matinee on the latter day, with Walter Wills and Roy Binder in the leading roles is founded upon the most popular tale in the immortall eastern Saga book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, Aladdin or the Wonderful Lamp.” In fact it is frankly called a modern Aladdin, in which the two drolls disport themselves as a couple of Chinamen. Chin Hop Lo and Chin Chop Hi. Outside of the Holy Bible there is perhaps existant no more universally popular book than this same Arabian Nights, one of the best known English versions of which, is by the late John Payne, well known to scholars for his powers in English Verse. His translation of the poems of Mas­ter Francois Villon remain a monu­ment to his genius.

The wonderful collection of Mos­lem folklore translated into every language known to civilization is
read with eagerness by each successive generation, but nowhere are the tales read or listened to with greater delight than in the Arabian desert itself, where travelers record as a common sight, Sheiks and white-beards sitting gravely in their places at evening around the camp fire, women and children motionless as silhouettes outside the ring, all breathless with attention as they drink in the words with eyes and mouths as well as ears. while the Rawi or reciter. to whose wit the task of supplying details is left, entertains the groups with picturesque and oriental effect.

In spite of the fact that Thomas Carlye called the Arabian Nights a pack of downright lies, it is incontrovertible that the general tone of The Nights is exceptionally high and pure and devotional fervor often rises to the boiling point of fanaticism. They have pathos, sweet, deep, and genuine; tender, simple and true. They depict life as strong and splendid, though everywhere flavored with that unaffected pessimism and constitutional melancholy which strikes its deepest root under the brightest skies.

The whole of the stories are dominated everywhere by that marvelous oriental fancy wherein the spiritual and the supernatural are so common as the material and natural

“Chin-Chin” continued east to play the Walker Theatre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on January 19-24.

Once again, Donna played “The Goddess of the Lamp” in “Chin-Chin.” She was not mentioned by name in any of the Regina newspaper articles that I found, however, her role in the production was mentioned.

Regina Theater

Regina Theatre, Regina, SK (ca 1939)

The Regina Theatre was built in 1909 and opened on February 7, 1910. Some references indicate it a capacity of 870 seats[i], but according to the “Cahn-Leighton Theater Guide[ii] for 1913-1914” it had a seating capacity of 809.  The theatre closed in 1929 after a fire and was demolished in 1939.[iii]

Theater Statistics

Seating Capacity: 809 Total
Lower Floor: 445
Balcony:         258
Gallery:          60
Boxes:            46

Proscenium opening was 30×20
Footlights to back wall: 28ft
Between the sidewalls: 55 ft
Apron: 3 ft
Rigging Loft: 34 feet
Fly Gallery: 17 feet

There were 9 dressing rooms
Barney Groves was the manager

Further Research:

Determine the activities of the Chin-Chin cast immediately before and immediately after playing at the Regina Theatre.

Article Sources:

The Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) · Sat, Jan 3, 1920 · Page 17 via Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/495428769

The Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) · Sat, Jan 3, 1920 · Page 17 via Newspapers.com https://www.newspapers.com/image/495430011


Endnotes:

[i] Internet: Wikipedia – Regina Theatre (Saskatchewan) – Wikipedia, et al – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regina_Theatre_(Saskatchewan)

[ii] Source: The Cahn-Leighton official theatrical guide. (1913). New York, N.Y: Publication Office, New Amsterdam Theatre Building.

[iii] See note i above.

Huber – Surname Saturday

Name Origin

Huber and its derivatives (Hubbard, Hibbert, Hibbins, Hibbs, Hibson, and possibly Hoover) derive from the word, hube, a measure of land that could sustain and be worked by one farmer’s family. The name Huber designated the farmer who owned a “hube.”

Geographical

The name is most prevalent in Germany (over 122,000 people) and most common in Austria where it is the second most common name in the country. In Switzerland, where Mary-Alice’s ancestors came from, it is the 7th most common name with 1 in 308 people have the surname.

Portrait of the Huber Family
Huber Family Portrait – Standing: Ernie, Jak (John), Jak, & Alfred, sitting Frieda, & Kath, boy standing Hermann.

Mary-Alice’s immigrant ancestor, John Huber, came from Switzerland in 1901 and settled in Wisconsin. In 1910 he and his wife, Bertha, located to Alabama. In 1920, they moved to Saginaw County, Michigan and remained there the rest of their lives. The 1920 Census indicates there were 162 Huber families in Michigan. John’s only son, Clarence, had no children, so the surname ended with Clarence. John’s daughter, Florence, was Mary-Alice’s maternal grandmother.

John Huber was the son of Jacob Huber and Kath Stuckling of Windlach, Zurich, Switzerland. I believe he had four siblings, Ernie, Hermann, Frieda, and Alfred. I know nothing about those siblings and need to research them in the future.

Direct Huber Ancestors

  • Photo of Florence Huber (1924)
    Florence Huber at 16 (1924)

    Grandmother – Florence Wilma Huber Darling (1908-1934)

  • Great-Grandfather – John Huber (1880-1948)
  • 2nd Great-Grandfather – Jacob Huber (b ca 1835-? )
  • 3rd Great Grandfather – Jak Huber (?-?)

Known relatives.

My records have 21 direct-line descendants of Jak Huber.

Sources:

Donna Darling Collection – Part 37

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Fay’s Theater – Providence, Rhode Island

For this week’s Treasure Chest Thursday, I’m looking at a set of clippings from the Donna Darling Collection. First, we see she received top billing of “Great Acts of Vaudeville.” Her show, “Dona [sic] Montran and her Bathing Beauties” included “Eight beautiful California girls from the Golden Gate displaying the coming summer fashions at the beaches; a carload of scenery and a satchel full of costumes. 


My immediate questions were where and when. This was the first large ad I’ve seen for a theatre where Donna played that didn’t provide the name of the theater. The when was pretty easy. The bill includes the 1920 silent short, “Wedding Blues,” which IMDB indicates was released on November 28, 1920. Also, Donna began her “California Bathing Girls” show in July 1920 and it ran until May or June of 1921.


A second ad provides information about where. The ad says Donna Montran is coming Monday 8.  It isn’t clear what the 8 means, but, if it means date, then it fits that it would mean Monday,  November 8th. I’ve seen cases before where IMDB is wrong about the release date, so I’m not too concerned about the inconsistency.

Another clipping on the same page provides a bit more insight. It reads, in part, “The act held the stage at the Broadway Theatre, New York for ten consecutive weeks coming direct to Newport from Fay’s in Providence where it established a new record for attendance.

Key features:

  • The date is possibly 8 November, but more likely December 1920 or January 1921.
  • The venue is the Fay’s Theatre, Providence, RI
  • The show is the “Donna Montran and Her Bathing Beauties. “
  • Also, on bill
    • “Wedding Blues” with the Christie Follies Girls

Analysis

I have searched all of the on-line newspaper sources I could to determine an exact date for her playing in either Providence or Newport – Ancestry.com, Chronicling America (using Elephind), Genealogy Bank, Google News Archive, Newspaper Archives, Newspapers.com, etc.  Search as I may, I was unsuccessful in finding an on-line source for newspapers from that time. The closest I found was the Google News Archive and it has a gap in coverage from Oct 8 thru Nov 15, 1920.

Conclusion

Nov 8-10 (Possibly later) – Fay’s Theatre, Providence, RI – Donna Montran and Her Bathing Beauties. 

Actions

According to the Library of Congress, “US Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present” the following Libraries hold the Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.) 1920 issues, typically in microfilm form.

  • Boston Pub Libr, Boston, MA
  • Brown Univ, Providence, RI
  • Library of Congress, Washington, DC
  • Rhode Island Hist Soc Libr, Providence, RI
  • Univ of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
  • Wisconsin Hist Soc, Newsp Proj, Madison, WI

I will try to visit the Boston Public Library the next time I am in Boston and see if I can find newspaper article or advertising that proves the dates she played at Fay’s Theater in Providence. Alternately, I’ll add this article to my (lengthly) list of tasks when I can visit Washington DC.

Sources

Donna Darling Collection – Scan0071.

“Chin Chin” in Regina, January 15, 1920

Donna In the News
Montran Monday
 

“Donna in the News” is my reporting of newly found newspapers articles and advertising regarding my grandmother, Madonna Montran (aka Donna Montran and aka Donna Darling). I am always excited when I find a new venue of my grandmother’s exciting show business career of the 1910s and 1920s.

 Article

I discovered several articles in the “Leader-Post” (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) that are newly available at Newspapers.com. The articles showed that “Chin Chin” played at the Regina Theatre for 3 days starting January 15, 1920. Because of those newly available online articles, I was able to add another venue for Donna’s “Chin Chin” tour.

New information added to her career list:

Jan 15-17, 1920 – Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada – Regina Theater

Chin-Chin starts the new year at the Empire Theatre, Edmonton

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Empire Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 1 – 3 January 1920

 Vaudeville/Chin-Chin

We know Donna and “Chin-Chin” played at the Avenue Theater in Vancouver for three days beginning Christmas Day. There are still four days that we don’t know where the company was and it is unlikely that they would travel the 750 miles between Vancouver and Edmonton with no stops between. However, I was able to find “Chin-Chin” at the Empire Theater in Edmonton starting New Year’s Day.

Article transcription:

Edmonton Journal, Thu, Jan 1, 1920, Page 9.

BY PRESS AGENTS

CHIN CHIN AT EMPIRE

There appears to be no doubt that Mr. Charles Dillingham’s stupendous production of “Chin Chin” with Walter Willis and Roy Binder in the lead, will duplicate its record of absolute capacity audiences at the Empire theatre where it will open a three-day engagement with a holiday matinee today.

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, song birds and actresses are in the cast, it appears that the who is to enjoy the place of honor as first favorite is left to the choice of the public.

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

It is estimated that 250,000 people all from points more than one hundred miles from New York have already seen “Chin Chin” while it was presented at the Globe theatre in New York, and not Mr. Dillingham is actually bringing this his only company in its entirety to the Empire theatre.


CLEVER FANTASY
     “CHIN CHIN” HAS
           MANY BIG SCENES

Musical Comedy at Empire
Says Farewell
Today

Do you remember when you were just a tiny chap, how 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 on American girl, appears in Charles Dillingham’s “Chin Chin,” which closes its engagement at the Em­pire theatre with matinee and evening performances today. 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 one hundred and fifty 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.

Empire Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Julius Cahn – Gus Hill Theatrical Guide 1913-1914 indicates there were three theatres in Edmonton in 1913. All three were managed by W. B. Sherman. Bert Russell was the Res. Manager at the three theaters also. The theaters were the 1700 customer Sherman Theatre, the 1200 customer Empire Theatre, and the 900 customer Lyceum Theatre. Of the three, the Empire had the smallest stage, only 27×27 and 25 feet front to the back wall.[i]

History of Theater

Empire Theatre ca. 1919. Photo from the Glenbow Archives via LostYEG
(The Country Cousin was released in November, 1919.)

There were three different Empire Theatres in Edmonton.

The first Empire opened in 1906 at McDougal Avenue & Cristabelle Street (100th Street and 101st A Avenue. Three years later the building was abandoned and later demolished.

The second Empire was built as the Edmonton Opera House on 103rd Street north of Jasper and changed its name to The Empire about 1909. This was the theater that “Chin-Chin” played at in January 1920.

A third Empire was built in 1920 and opened in late December 1920.

Further Research

Learn the final disposition of the (second) Empire Theatre

Endnotes & Sources

[i] The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide 1913-1914; Page 695

Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) Jan 1, 1920, Page 9 via Newspapers.com.

Today’s History Lesson – Pantages Vaudeville Theatre – Connect to Edmonton (Powered by Yeg Tel)