“Chin Chin” – Empire Theater, North Adams, MA – 14 May 1920

100 Years ago Today….

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Empire Theater in North Adams, Massachusetts, on 14 May 1920

Chin Chin
Vaudeville
Donna Montran

The “Chin Chin” production played at the Bennington Opera House on May 13th. Then they traveled the 16 miles south to North Adams, MA to play at the Empire Theater the next day.

Preshow Advertising

Advertising for the show began on May 5th when the regular Empire ad indicated, “Coming FRIDAY, MAY 14th, “CHIN CHIN.” Along with the display ad was a short advertising article.

“CHIN CHIN”

Booked for Empire May 14th With Fun Makers of Unusual Calibre

The management of the Empire Theater has booked Charles Dillingham’s only company presenting that wonderful spectacle of “Chin Chin” for one evening’s showing Friday evening, May 14th.

This riot of fun, feast of music, and bevy of feminine beauty appeared at the Globe theater in New York for two solid years and is justly heralded as the greatest musical comedy success emanating from the gay white way. In the leading comedy roles are Walter Wills and Roy Binder supported by a cast of about 65 people including Tom Browne’s Saxaphone band.

The book is by Anne Caldwell and R. H. Burnside, the lyrics by Anne Caldwell and James O’Dea, the music by Ivan Caryll, whose lingering and lilting melodies carried “The Pink Lady” and The Little Café” to success. “Chin Chin” is blessed with a big company.

In this musically rich show spontaneous approval is always accorded melodious tunes as “Good Bye Girl, I’m Through,” “Love Moon,” “Violet,” “The Grey Moon,” “Go Gur Sig Gong-Jue” the comedy song and “The Ragging of the Rag of Rags.”—adv.

This article is a bit unusual in that it actually mentioned “—adv.” at the end indicating it was an ad. Often these articles are ambiguous as to their source.

The Saturday paper had a special ad for the show, a text article ad, and an image of:

The North Adams Transcript used this photo, however, due to the quality of the Newspaper copy, I have used a better quality image from jass.com.

THE FAMOUS TOM BROWN’S CLOWN SAXOPHONE BAND IN CHARLES DILLINGHAM’S STUPENDOUS PRODUCTION OF “CHIN CHIN” AT THE EMPIRE THEATER FRIDAY EVENING.

Reviews

Unusual for a one-night engagement, but the North Adams Transcript ran a review of the show the day afterwards. It read:

AT THE EMPIRE

Charles B. Dillingham’s “Chin Chin” Draws full house. Wills the Star

Another full house responded las night to the Empire theater’s offering of another musical comedy, the occasion being the presentation of Charles B. Dillingham’s “Chin Chin.” It is a fair generalization of the production as given here to say that Walter Wills in the role created by Fred Stone, was pretty much all there was to the show. Mr. Wills’ grotesque contortions and classical humor lifted the show out of the commonplace and saved it. It would be asking too much to expect that the play as presented by last night’s cast equal that given by Montgomery and Stone and their associates some five years ago, although not a few who saw the original production in New York drew in invidious comparison last night.

Aside from Wills, it may as well be said first at last that the show was a series of blithe, sometimes crisp and wellordered, but always interesting tableaux. Musical umbers here and there betrayal tuneful purpose, but none of the singers could sing very well.

In addition to Wills, Roy Binder his companion, Starr Dunham as Alladin, Donna Montran, Bessie Franklin, and Joseph Robinson, carried the bulk of the work and displayed a certain amount of ability.

The Saxophone band, the trick horse, the fake piano playing and ventriloquist dodge were also features worthy of more than passing notice. The mechanical effects and stage settings were striking and clever, many of them being new to these parts.

The chorus was a good-sized and well-costumed one the pale pastels of the Orient predominating in the color scheme.

Empire Theater

The Empire theater was built in 1913 to replace an earlier theater built in 1866 that had burned in 1912.[i]

The Publix Theater Corp. took over the empire and changed the name to “Paramount” effective 2 Sept 1929. Theater Manager: J. F. Sullivan[ii]

Seating Capacity: 1,200

Stage (Proscenium opening): 32×26 ft
Front to back wall: 35 ft
Between side walls: 62 ft

Today

The theater was demolished in the 1970’s (possibly 1980’s). However, the lobby can still be seen if one looks carefully at the interior of the Capital Restaurant. Also, the name continues on with “The Empire” restaurant in the same building at that location.

Further Research

Check the “Herald” for additional articles regarding the “Chin Chin” performance.

Disclaimer

The ads and some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” If you purchase after clicking on them, I will receive a small commission which will help me pay for this site. Please see my Disclaimer Page for more information.

Endnotes

[i] “Empire Theatre In North Adams, MA – Cinema Treasures”. 2020. Cinematreasures.Org. Accessed April 24 2020. http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/18165.

[ii] Julius Cahn—Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory – 1921.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 62

Mission Court Theater, Fullerton, CA &
Yost Broadway Theater, Santa Ana, CA

Vaudeville
Donna Montran
Treasure Chest Thursday
Donna Darling Music Review
Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at a page from the Donna Darling Collection. Scan #1437 consists of three clippings. One clipping is generic and doesn’t include the theater name. The other two are the Mission Court Theater and the Yost Broadway.

Mission Court Theater

Clipping - Mission Court Theater - Vaudeville - Donna Darling
Clipping – Mission Court Theater – Vaudeville – Donna Darling Collection

The Donna Darling Music Review played at the Mission Court Theater, Fullerton, Cal., on one Thursday night. Donna’s show was in Northern California in the early part of June and made it to San Bernardino, CA, by June 28th. It is possible that she played in Fullerton on Thursday, June 26th, however, it is more likely she played in Fullerton on Thursday, July 3rd. Donna played in Whittier on June 30th and in Santa Ana on July 5th, so playing her playing at a theatre between those to venues on July 3rd, makes sense. As such, I’ve added the following venue to Donna’s Career Listing.

July 3, 1924 – (Probable) – Fullerton, CA – Mission Court Theater – Donna Darling Music Revue – DDC-62

Key features:

  • The venue is the Mission Court Theater, Fullerton, CA. She headlined the five acts at the theater that night.

Yost Broadway Theater

Clipping - Yost Broadway - Donna Darling Revue
Clipping – Yost Broadway – Donna Darling Revue – 8 October 1926

The second clipping has “Oct 8-9 Santa Ana” written above the clipping in the scrapbook. That coincides with articles found at Newspapers.Com which indicated that Donna and Sammy played at the Yost Broadway Theater on October 7-9.

October 7-9, 1926 – Santa Ana – Yost Broadway Theater – Donna Darling Revue – Newspaper Archives. Newspapers.com – DDC-62.

Key features:

  • The venue is the Yost Broadway Theater, Santa Ana, CA. She headlined the five live acts at the theater.
  • With Donna were:
    • Zuhn and Dreis “Nuts”
    • Morrell and Elynor “Beauty and Grace”
    • Princess Winona “Indian Prima Donna”
    • Curtis and Lawrence “Customs”
  • Movie: The Campus Flirt starring Bebe Daniels.

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.

Continue reading “Chin Chin – Bennington Opera House – 13 May 1920”

Donna Darling Collection – Part 61

Rivoli Theater

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at clippings from the Donna Darling Collection that talk about the Rivoli Theater.

The first item is a newspaper clipping from the Rivoli Theatre where F. L. Koppelberger was manager. It says Donna played there January 7, 8, 9, &10 January 1925. Previous research found that Donna played at the Rivoli theater in La Cross, Wisconsin on those dates. So that is a clear add-in clipping for.

January 7-10, 1925 – La Cross, Wisconsin – Rivoli – California Bathing Beauties Revue.

This is a particularly interesting clipping. It shows the two-dozen vignettes that comprised of Donna’s 1925 Bathing Beauty Show.

  • Clarice Allyn
  • Betty Bryant
  • Katheryn Carlson
  • Donna Darling
  • Murry Earl
  • FNU Flaherty
  • Alice Louise
  • Mildred O’Brien
  • Al Ross

Donna was “Miss Prolog” and “Miss 1860.” She starred in “The Globe Trotter,” “Donna” (herself), “You Bet Your Life,” “The Jazzbo Bathers,” and in the closing review.

Other shows on the bill included “Douglas MacLean in “Never Say Die” and Larry Semon giving the news and in “Trouble Brewing.” That will help confirm the other clippings. In 1925, two years before the first “talkies” theaters often provided a news segment that was narrated by a local individual. In this case, Larry Semon was the narrator. His name on other advertising shows which Rivoli theater would be correct. Other clippings show that his Rivoli theater had unique rivets in the theater logo.

The ads use different names for two of the cast – Miss Katheryn Kolleen and Miss Myrtle Carlson are identified as members of the show.

Also, the clippings include two advertisements from the Rivoli. One shows a woman diving, but the other shows a woman sitting in a shell. I’ve not seen that image before in Donna’s advertising.

Actions

There is another set of “Rivoli” Theatre clipping that appears to relate to Donna and Sammy playing at the Rivoli in Portland, Oregon.  I’ll look at those closer next time.

Chin Chin – Lyceum Theatre – Paterson, NJ – May 7th & 8th 1920.

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Lyceum Theatre in Paterson, New Jersey on 7 & 8 May 1920.

Donna Montran
Chin Chin
Vaudeville

“Chin Chin” played in Wilkes-Barre, PA on May 4th.  I haven’t determined where the show was on May 5th or 6th. However, by the 7th, it had progressed the 110 miles east to Patterson.

Preshow Advertising

Advertising for the show began with a May 1st article:[i]

“Chin Chin” to Come to Lyceum

Manager Guggenheim of the Lyceum Theatre, Patterson, has secured Charles Dillingham’s only company presenting that wonderful spectacle of “Chin Chin”, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 7 and 8, with a matinee Saturday. This riot of fun, feast of music and bevy of feminine beauty appeared at the Globe theatre in New York for two solid years and is heralded as the greatest musical comedy success emanating from the gay white way. In the leading comedy roles are Walter Wills and Roy Binder.

In this musically rich show spontaneous approval is always accorded such melodious turns as “Good-Bye Girls, I’m Through”, “Love Moon”, The Grey Moon”, “Go Gar Sig Gong-Jue”. The comedy song, and “The Ragging of the Rag of Rags”.-adv.

Show Advertising

The Morning Call – Sat, May 8, 1920

Advertising continued daily through the last ad in both the Patterson and the Passaic newspapers. The show played on May 7th and the May 8th issue of The Morning Call (Patterson, NY) had a call-out which mentioned Donna. It said, in part,

Interwoven into this sparkling comedy of melody is a fairy-tale romance, bringing into play Aladdin and his lamp. Donna Montran, impersonating Violet, meets Aladdin (Star Dunham) at a toy bazar. You all know the story of the mysterious lamp. Suffice it to say that whoever secures the lamp may have any wish granted as it is wished. Aladdin wished for Violet. He got her. Not until the lamp had brought many complications, however.

Post Show Info

I’m not sure where the show went from there, but five days later it had worked its way 175 miles north to Bennington, Vermont.

Lyceum Theatre – Patterson, NJ

The theater was located at 125 Van Houten St., next door to the local fire station, and had a seating capacity of 1,950.

Specifications for the Lyceum Theatre[ii]

The Lyceum is on the right beyond the fire station.

Front to back wall: 45 ft
Between side walls: 80 ft
Between fly girders: 10 ft
To rigging loft: 52 ft

Newspapers —”Chronicle,” “Call,” “News,” “Press,” “Passaic News,” “Herald.”  I haven’t found the “Chronicle” or the “Press” issues.

What Happened to the Theater

On March 22, 1931, the Paterson Lyceum theater burned to the ground.[iii]

Today

Today, the location the Paterson Lyceum theater occupied is a parking ramp.

Disclaimer

The ads and some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” If you purchase after clicking on them, I will receive a small commission which will help me pay for this site. Please see my Disclaimer Page for more information.


Endnotes

[i] Passaic Daily Herald (Passaic, New Jersey) · Sat, May 1, 1920, · Page 4, Column 1.jpg

[ii] The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide And Moving Picture Directory. New York, N.Y.: Julius Cahn-Gus Hill, 1921. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/coo.31924063709764?urlappend=%3Bseq=300 accessed 12 March 2020.

[iii] “PATERSON FIRE JOURNAL & NORTH JERSEY FIRE HISTORY”. Patersonfirejournal.Blogspot.Com. Accessed March 12, 2020. http://patersonfirejournal.blogspot.com/2015/.