Donna at Family Theatre, Mahanoy City, PA – 30 Apr 1920

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Family Theatre in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania on 30 April 1920.

Vaudeville
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.It is not clear where Donna and “Chin Chin” played in the days before they played in Mahanoy City. We know they played at the Hippodrome in Pottsville, PA on April 26 & 27. It is unlikely the cast would have off two days in a row, particularly a Wednesday and Thursday.

Preshow Advertising

Advertising for the show began on April 24th with a page 1 announcement that the show was coming, on page 3 there was a official notification to “The General Public,” and on page 5 was a typical “Chin Chin” advertisement.

CHIN CHIN” COMING TO MAHANOY CITY FRIDAY, APRIL 30

Rich in color, pretty girls, artistic settings and the playfulness that goes with good musical comedy is “Chin Chin,” which comes to the Family Theatre, Mahanoy City, Pa., on Fricay, April 30th, night only.

A testimony of its worth is supplied by its past record of a solid two-year run at the Globe Theatre in New York City, and the summing up of the box office receipts in both the Metropolis and on tourr [sic] are convincing proofs of public estimation.

Ivan Caryll, composer of the music, is also responsible for the music of “The Pink Lady” and “The Little Café.” Anne Caldwell and R. H. Burnside wrote the libretto; Walter Wills and Roy Binder will be seen in the leading roles.

In this gigantic production of “Chin Chin” Charles Dillingham, the producer, offers more for the admission price than any other dozen musical shows ever seen. Seats on sale Tuesday.

On April 26th, the following article ran in the Republican and Herald.

“CHIN CHIN” AT MAHANOY NEXT FRIDAY

Charles Dillingham’s sumptuous and only production of “Chin Chin,” as seen for two years in New York, comes to the Family Theatre, Mahanoy City, Friday, April 30th.

This delightful and famous entertainment will be presented in its original entirety with Walter Wills nd Roy Binder in the lead. In this musically rich show such numbers as “Violets,” “The Grey Moon,” “Love Moon,” “Goodbye Girls, I’m Through” and the comedy song, “Go Gar Sig Gong-Jue” always receive hearty applause.

The book is by Anne Calddwell and H. H. Burnside, the lyrics by Anne Cldwell and James O’Dea and the music by Ivan Caryll, so well remembered for his ingratiating melodies in “The Pink Lady” and “The Little Café.”

Seven gorgeous settings make up this stupendous production—dresses, swift and grotesque dancing and lots of prankish amusement, including Tom Brown’s Clown Band as the famous Saxophone Sextette. Seats on sale Tuesday.

The newspaper on the 27th carried the exact same article.

On the 28th, a new article was presented. Much of it the same as the 26th and 27th. And on the 29, the exact same articles as what ran on the 28th ran again.

Finally, on April 30th, the “Republican and Herald” ran an abbreviated article which contained the same information as previous articles.


Family Theatre

Photo courtesy the Mahanoy Area Historical Society.

The theater was originally built in 1895 by John Hersker (Schone Horsker) and named the Hersker Opera House.  It also went by the name of Hersker’s Family Theatre and had a seating capacity of 1,250. In 1909 the theater was renamed the Family Theater. Later it was renamed the “State Theater.”[i]

Specifications for the Family Theatre

Proscenium opening: 34 ft
Footlights to back wall: 83 ft
Between side walls: 48 ft
Apron 5 ft
Between fly girders: 42 ft
To rigging loft: 63 ft

Nearby info

Nearby hotels included the Mansion House, Pennsylvania Hotel, and the City Hotel.

Today

After the building stopped being used as a theatre, it was a furniture store for several years. Today it is a gas station and mini-mart.


Disclaimer

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Endnotes

[i] “Mahanoy Area Historical Society”. 2020. Mahanoyhistory.Org. Accessed January 15, 2020. http://www.mahanoyhistory.org/charter.html.

Donna in the News – Special Act on Thanksgiving

25 November 1925

Vaudeville – Jewel Review

 “Donna in the News” is my reporting of newly discovered newspaper 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 for my grandmother’s exciting show business career of the 1910s and 1920s.

This week’s article is from page 4 of the Kenosha News (Kenosha, WI), dated 25 November 1925.

VAUDEVILLE ON THANKSGIVING.
——-
Special Act to Accompany Feature Picture, “The Pony Express.”

A special vaudeville act will be given on Thanksgiving Day at the Orpheum theater in conjunction with the feature picture, “The Pony Express.” The act will be Donna Darling and girls in “Her Little Jewel Revue.” There will be singing, dancing and special scenery.

The picture which starts Thursday for the rest of the week has one scene on the mammoth location set near Cheyenne, Wyoming, that was directed by Vice-President Charles G. Dawes. The vice-president extended the range of his versatility when he assumed the role of motion picture director. Aided by an occasional word from James Cruse, the producer, and Betty Compson, who has the featured feminine role in this epic production, the general appeared to enjoy the experience, shouting “Camera” like a veteran.

Thanks to this new posting at Newspapers.com, I learned that on Nov 26, 1925, in Kenosha, Wisconsin at the Orpheum Theater, Donna Darling and girls presented the “Little Jewel Revue.” I was able to add another venue for Donna’s “Little Jewel Revue” tour.

“Chin-Chin” at Hippodrome, Pottsville, PA on April 26 & 27, 1920.

Donna and “Chin Chin” play at the Hippodrome in Pottsville, Pennsylvania on 24 & 25 April 1920.

Donna Montran
Vaudeville
Chin Chin

My grandmother, Donna Montran, joined the cast of the vaudeville show “Chin Chin” on October 30, 1919, and toured with the production until the production ended playing on May 31, 1920.  

Before the cast of “Chin-Chin” arrived at Pottsville, they had had a tough series of one-night shows and were probably pleased to have off on Sunday, April 25th before playing at the Hippodrome in Pottsville, PA. Also pleasing to the cast had to have been they would play at Pottsville for two days in a row.

“The Hippodrome” that must be the place where Hippo’s roam. That sounds good but isn’t right. The word “Hippodrome” comes from a Greek word, hippos, which means horse, and dremon, meaning path or way.[i] I doubt very much that horses ever raced at the Hippodrome in Pottsville, however, Mademoiselle Falloffski surly rode her horse in circles on stage during the production of “Chin-Chin” at the Hippodrome.

Continue reading ““Chin-Chin” at Hippodrome, Pottsville, PA on April 26 & 27, 1920.”

Donna Darling Collection – Part 57

The Orpheum and the Majestic

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at a page from the Donna Darling Collection that includes two clippings.

“Leon The Great” Pleases Orpheum

The mystery act of “Leon the Great,” advertised as the headline stunt on the bill current at the Orpheum, went over with a bang, but is forced to share honors with Primrose Semon and the Donna Darling revue.

The former is the snappiest and hardest working redhead to appear here in several months. Shad had a stock of clever songs and with her partner got across some original quips.

Donna’s singing, two comely toe dancers, and a comedian who was actually funny at times constitute the Donna Darling revue.

Stone and Leever get some good stuff across, but should get together with the comedian in Donna’s revue and flip coins for a couple of comic songs that both acts use.

“Leon the Great” is mysterious enough….

Analysis

This clipping comes without any date or location information.

  • Donna played the Orpheum in Clinton, IA on December 9th thru the 11th, 1926.
  • Donna Played the Orpheum in Des Moines on 2nd thru the 5th of January 1927.
  • Donna had a return engagement to the Orpheum in Clinton, IA on January 16th thru 19th, 1927.

According to the advertisement[1], Donna played at the Orpheum in Des Moines with The Great Leon, Miss Primrose Seamon, Stone & Leever, and Hartley and Patterson on January 2nd 1927. I have been unable to find any ads or articles for Donna in Clinton (either date) so far. However, it is unlikely that the same 5 acts played in both Des Moines and Clinton. As such, I’m confident this article relates to Donna’s show in Des Moines.

Majestic Theatre Program

MAJESTIC
THEATRE

IOWA’S FINEST
AND SAFEST
PLAY-HOUSE

Program
Season 1926-1927
Program (Continued)

DONNA DARLING REVUE

—With—
Sammy Clark
Assisted by Hal Dixon & Co.
A Super Song Revue—A Dazzling dance fantasy—A Novel
Comedy Oddity in Five Scenes

Analysis

Handwritten on the clipping are the words “Dubuque Iowa.” From previous work I know that Donna performed the Donna Darling Review at the Majestic Theater in Dubuque, Iowa from December 12th through December 15th. I wrote about some other clippings from that show in the Donna Darling Collection #55. I added DDC-57 to the listing for that show.

Conclusion

December 12-15, 1926 – Dubuque, IA – Majestic Theatre – Donna Darling Revue – Newspaper Archive – DDC-55, DDC-57.

ENDNOTES

[1] “1 Jan 1927, 8 – Des Moines Tribune At Newspapers.Com”. 2019. Newspapers.Com. Accessed October 24 2019. https://www.newspapers.com/image/324007959/?terms=%22Donna%2BDarling%2BRevue%22.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 56

Majestic (Harrisburg, PA) and York Opera House (York, PA)

Treasure Chest Thursday
Vaudeville
Donna Darling & Boys
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at three clippings from one page (0110) of the Donna Darling Collection.

Majestic Theatre

The first two clippings relate to Donna’s playing at the Majestic Theatre.

The first is a simple ad.

MAJESTIC
The Talk of the Town

Frederick V. Bowers
Popular Musical Comedy
Star and Song Writer,
In His
The first is a simple ad.
With a Bevy of Pretty Girls
— — —
COMING THURSDAY
Another Musical ComedFavorite
DONNA DARLING & BOYS

Sadly, nothing in this ad indicates which of the many Majestic Theatres this was nor does it indicate when. Luckily, an accompanying clipping on the same page provides a likely location and date for the show.

Majestic Theatre,
Harrisburg Pennsylvania
Week of April 3, 1922

MAXINE & BOGGY
The Comedy Dog

STEIFF PIANOS used in this Theatre

Spencer—CASE & MAYNE—Edith
In
“I WOULDN’T DO THAT”

Beautiful Musical Comedy Favorite
MISS DONNA DARLING & CO.
Assisted by Murry Walker and Jack Finney
In a Song and Dance Cocktail
“AS YOU LIKE IT”

MORGAN & MORGAN
“Making you Laugh”

MELODY LAND
In
Abbreviated “VARIETIES”
A Cycle Of
Songs and Dances
With
White and Mills
Juliet Beaumont
Kathleen Harrington
Ethel Cook
Assisted by

Olga Sirlis……………….Pianist
Martha Conwell …… Saxophonist
Charlotte Maloney…Violinist
Verna Dorn …………… Drummer
Scenery by Robert Law Studio
Staged by Douglas Royce

Newspaper articles, found at Genealogy Bank, confirmed that Donna played at the Majestic in Harrisburg on April 6th, 7th, and 8th. Also, in the Harrisburg Patriot on April 4th was the same ad in the clippings.

York Opera House

The third clipping is part of a York Opera House show.  No date is provided, but articles at Newspapers.Com confirmed that Donna played at the York Opera House in York, Pennsylvania, on April 3rd to 5th. The clipping shows many of the same acts seen in the Majestic clipping.

In place of Case & Mayne is:

Ralph                 Jim
KITNER AND REANEY
In “An Ocean Episode”

And in place of Morgan & Morgan was:

Lorraine         Verna
HOWARD & SADLER
Presenting their Harmonious
Comedy Songalogue
“Wedding Belles”

Program items A and B are missing in both the clippings, it appears that all other filler films started the two showings. For example, at the York Opera House, instead of “Case & Mayne” and “Morgan and Morgan” was the last chapter of “Breaking Through” and “Aesop’s Fables.”

Conclusion

The “Life of Madonna Montran” was updated with the following:

April 3-5, 1922 – York, PA – York Opera House – Donna Darling & Boys – News May 2019. DDC-56.

April 6-8, 1922 – Harrisburg, PA – Majestic Theatre – Donna Darling & Boys (Murry Walker & Jack Finney) in “As You Like It.” – Genealogy Bank – DDC-56.

Actions

  • Write about Donna playing in York, PA, and the York Opera House.
  • Write about Donna playing in Harrisburg, PA, and the Majestic Theatre.

Sources

  • Clipping: Majestic Theatre – Harrisburg, PA – Coming Thursday – SCAN0110
  • Clipping: Majestic Theatre, Harrisburg, PA – Week of Apr 3, 1922 – SCAN0110
  • Clipping: York Opera House – SCAN0110
  • Genealogy Bank – The Patriot (Harrisburg, PA) dated 4 April 1922, Page 14.
  • Genealogy Bank – The Patriot (Harrisburg, PA) dated 7 April 1922, Page 18.
  • Newspapers.Com – The York Daily Record (York, PA) dated 5 April 1922, Page 9.