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.

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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/.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 60 – Parkway Theatre

Donna Montran – Vaudeville
Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at eight images all relating to the Parkway Theatre. None of the clippings indicate what city the show is taking place in and none of the clippings provide a date. Donna’s 1924-1925 show went by many different names, Hollywood Bathing Beauties,” “California Bathing Beauties Revue,” and “Bathing Beauties Revue featuring Donna Darling. A film mentioned, “The Painted Flapper,” was released in October 1924, so Donna’s show most likely within the three months after the film’s release.

From other research, I knew that Donna played at the Parkway Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin from January 11 to the 15th. Could this be the Parkway Theatre of Donna’s Scrapbook?

A quick review said, yes, these clippings came from that show. Many of the clippings were identical to articles I found online so, I feel comfortable these clipping for the Parkway are from Donna’s Madison Show.

PARKWAY

Clipping from the Donna Darling Collection.
Clipping from newspapers.com

THE CALIFORNIA BATHING BEAUTIES REVUE

Direct from the Studios at Hollywood
In Person
featuring

DONNA DARLING
Creator of principal role in “Chin Chin” star of “Girl Behind the Gun;” winner of Madison Square beauty contest.
MR. MURRY EARLE Late feature dancer for George White Scandals
ALL ROSS & ALICE LOUISE Dances and Comedians
MISS BETTY BRYANT – Know for her comedy team work.
MISS MILDRED O’BRIEN – In Mack Sennett Comedies
MISS CLARICE ALLYN – Toe Dancer
MISS KATHERYN KOLLEEN – Dancer
MISS MYRTLE CARLSON – Dancer


PARKWAY
Same info as the previous ad, plus additional info about the accompanying motion picture, “The Painted Flapper: An Ultra Modern Jazzology” starring James Kirkwood and Pauline Garon.

(Note: Donna cut off the ads for coming attractions. )


Parkway

Clipping from the Donna Darling Collection.

The much heralded Bathing Girl Revue headed by Miss Donna Darling and her motion picture studio girls made it bow to Parkway Patrons yesterday and won applause. Their offering is fast, clean and colorful and thoroughly devoid of anything that smacks of the sensational often associated with the miniature revues.

Identical article in the Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI) · 12 Jan 1925, Page 7.

The plot, though not a new one, is unique in development. In a short half hour one is whipped through a mirage of singing and dancing numbers following in quick succession, telling a history of the bathing suit from Grandmother’s day down to the present time, with a side trip around the world including stop offs at various beach resorts. The costumes are elaborate, the setting pleasing and the lighting effects unusual.

Of the cast Miss Darling stand out by right of her personality, beauty and grace. She was ably assisted by Murry Earl, a dancer of accomplishment. Miss Betty Bryant, for her demon dancing in the Mars episode and dainty Clarice Allyn’s Chinese bathing girl number deserve special mention.


BATHING BEAUTIES OF MOVIES IN REVUE AT PARKWAY

Bathing girls from various California motion picture studios will make a personal appearance in a colorful Hollywood Revue at the Parkway this week, beginning today. This review is a clever musical and dancing number which will show the Parkway patrons that these versatile girls can do other things than merely pose before the camera.

Miss Donna Darling, who comes direct from the Mack Sennett studios, is the charming star who introduces the Bathing Beauties dressed in bathing costumes dating from 1860 to the present day. Betty Bryant is the “Miss America of 1925.” Bathing costumes of various countries and fashionable sea-shore centers are introduced. Chief among these numbers is Mildred O’Brian, who appear as the beauty from Palm Beach. Miss Darling’s life guards, Murry Earl and Al Ross, add comedy to the Egyptian dance while petite Clarice Allyn as the Chinese bathing girl enhances the offering with clever toe dancing.

Elaborate costumes have been selected for this sparkling revue. The music is snappy and the production has brilliant scenic and lighting effects.


There was a large ad that ran across two pages in Donna’s scrapbook. It shows Donna on the left and two of the other girls. I have not identified either of them yet. I suspect one of them is probably Betty Bryant, but the other could be Mildred O’Brian or Clarice Allyn or even one of the other two girls. I’ll need to research that further.

Conclusion

The Donna Darling Collection provided new information about her show at the Parkway Theatre, Madison Wisconsin on January 11 to the 15th, 1925.

Follow-up Actions

I’ll need to search for photos of the other individuals of the show that are in the advertising.

Sources

Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin) · 12 Jan 1925 · Page 7.

Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin) · 14 Jan 1925 · Page 15.

Chin-Chin – Wilkes-Barre – May 4, 1920

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Grand Opera House in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on 4 May 1920.

Vaudeville
Chin-Chin
 

“Chin Chin” played at the Lyric Theatre in Allentown on the 3rd and cast and crew headed the 60 plus miles north to Wilkes-Barre.

Advertising

Advertising for the show began a week before with a page 3 photo and both a display and a short writeup telling the readers about the coming show. Eventually, three papers[i] would all let the people about the show.

It must have been a big deal to play at the Grand Opera House. It was one of the few theaters at the time that hadn’t added silent films to their schedule and remained a strictly live theater establishment. Advertising copy was upscale and thoughtful. For example, “‘Chin Chin’ at the Grand” spoke about the popular translation of The Thousand Nights and One Night, translated by John Payne, even though “Chin Chin” only used the concept of many stories in one and not having a plot.

Sadly, Donna was never called out specifically, although some of the songs she sang were mentioned as part of the “Musically Rich Show.”[ii]

Post Show Info

I still have not determined where Donna and Chin Chin played on May 5th or May 6th, but by May 7th, they were 140 miles east to Patterson, New York.

Grand Opera House, Wilkes-Barre, PA

I have never had such a difficult time learning about a theatre as I have in learning about the Grand Opera House in Wilkes-Barre. I’ve been unable to find photographs or postcards of the venue. I cannot even find a reliable source for its build date. Certainly, the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of 1891 shows that the Theatre was NOT there.  Likewise, the 1892 City Directory doesn’t mention the Opera House as either a “Hall” or by address. However, the 1893 City Directory does indicate that the Theatre was there at 13 South Franklin and that Moses Burgunder was the manager. So, I believe that the Opera House was probably built in 1892.

The Joseph Cahn – Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory for 1921 reported that the theater seated 1290 people, 464 on the main floor, 280 in the Balcony, 500 in the Gallery, and 46 in box sets.

Specifications for the Grand Opera House, Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Proscenium opening: 36×34 ft
Front to back wall: 36 ft
Between side walls: 60 ft
Apron 2 ft
Between fly girders: 46 ft
To rigging loft: 60 ft
To fly gallery: 38 ft
and there were 12 Dressing rooms

I have been unsuccessful in determining what happened to theater, although I know that it has been demolished.

Today the site is a parking lot.

Further Research

I have contacted several organizations in hopes to learn more about the Grand Opera House in Wilkes-Barre. I will incorporate that information when I learn more. 

Endnotes

[i] The Evening News, The Wilkes-Barre Record, and the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader.

[ii] The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) · Mon, May 3, 1920 · Page 5, “At the Grand.”

 

Donna Montran – Lyric Theatre, Allentown, PA – 3 May 1920

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Lyric Theatre in Allentown, Pennsylvania on 3 May 1920

 The cast of “Chin Chin” arrived in Allentown on May 2nd. Some of the cast, including Donna, performed at a church benefit “Sacred Concert” that night. (See post.) On Monday, the cast and crew continued with their regular schedule with a performance at the Lyric Theatre in Allentown, PA.

Preshow Advertising

The earliest advertisement I’ve found for the show was on Saturday, April 24th. It said:

“Chin Chin.”

The Morning Call – 23 Apr 1920, Page 10.

Seven gorgeous settings make up the stupendous production of Chas. Dillingham’s “Chin Chin” which is scheduled to appear at the Lyric or the evening of May 3rd.

In this musically rich show such numbers as “Violet,” “The Grey Moon,” “The Love Moon,” “Good Bye Girls, I’m Through,” and the comedy song “Go Gar Sig Gong-Ju” always receive spontaneous applause.

The riot of fun, feast of music, bevy of feminie ????ity with pret-dresses, swift and grotesque dancing, lots of prankish amusement including Tom Brown’s Clown Band as the famous Saxophone Sextette, promises a most enjoyable entertainment.

Additional articles on April 27th and 28th, further described the show, Walter Wills and Roy Binder are in the lead. The show has practically no plow. In the first act, Aladdin and Violet Bond and the remaining acts occur because of the lamp found in the tea shop of Widow Twankey. The show makes you think you “awakened in a Hong Kong dream bazaar.”

On the 29th, we see our first display ad for the show. That ad was carried on in subsequent display ads.

The day of the show, besides the display ad there was a short article:

IN THE THEATRES
LYRIC
“Chin Chin”

Chas. Dillingham’s famous musical comedy, “Chin Chin” comes to the Lyric this evening. 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 Alladin—a very modern Alladin—very much in love with an American girl appears in Charles Dillinghan’s “Chin Chin” which comes to the Lyric for just one performance. 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.

Reviews

There were no published show reviews.

Post Show Info

The next stop for the show was the Grand Opera House in Wilkes-Barre for a Tuesday performance.


The Lyric Theatre

Photo of the Lyric Theater, Allentown, PA ca. 1905.
Lyric Theater, Allentown, PA ca. 1905

Originally built as a Central Market in 1896, it was converted to a theater in 1899 and named the “Lyric Theater” as the result of a naming contest.

During World War 1, the theatre was updated to be able to show films. In the early 1920s, the theater went back to be being the showplace for vaudeville. That is when “Chin Chin” played there.

1920 Specifications for the Lyric Theatre, Allentown, PA[i]

Capacity: 1369 — 624 floor, 337 Balcony, 400 Gallery, 8 Boxes

Proscenium opening: 32×29 ft
Front to back wall: 40 ft
Between side walls: 70 ft
Apron 2.5 ft
Between fly girders: 50 ft
To rigging loft: 64 ft
To fly gallery: 27 ft
14 Dressing rooms

Nearby Hotels: Allen, La Fayette

Newspapers & circulation

    • Chronicle 5,900
    • Item 6,275
    • Democrat 3,600
    • Reader  3,500
    • Call, 10,652
    • Welt-Bote (German) 7,000

What happened to the theater.

During the Depression, the theater stayed alive by hosting boxing matches and burlesque shows. During the 1940s the theater became a mixed venue acting as a home for the Allentown Symphony Orchestra and burlesque. In 1959, the theater was saved by Donald and Sam Miller from becoming a parking lot when they purchased the building and renamed it the “Allentown Symphony Hall.”

Major restoration projects began in 1991, 2006, and 2011 saved the deteriorating building from becoming a parking lot.

Today

Photo of Miller Symphony Hall (formerly the Lyric Theatre) in Allentown, PA
Miller Symphony Hall (formerly the Lyric Theatre) in Allentown, PA. Photo by Ken Roe, 2015 via CinemaTreasures.Org

In 2012 the name was changed to Miller Symphony Hall and the theater is in operation today with music and stage productions.

 

 

Endnotes

[i] The Julius Cahn Gus Hill Theatrical Guide 1913-1914, Page 563, Allentown.

Donna at Lyric Theater, Allentown, PA – 2 May 1920

Donna and members of “Chin Chin” supported a “Sacred Concert” at the Lyric Theatre in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on 2 May 1920

I might have missed that my grandmother, Donna, helped a “Sacred Concert” at the Lyric Theater on Sunday, May 2nd, 1920, because the newspaper so mangled her surname, “Maritram.” Luckily, they mentioned “Chin Chin,” so I was able to discover a series of articles about how some of the cast of “Chin Chin” performed for a Sacred Concert.

The cast of “Chin Chin” played at Mannoy City on April 30th. I don’t know if the show played somewhere on May 1st, but I now know that the cast moved on to Allentown and was able to support a concert on Sunday evening, May 2nd.

The Morning Call (Allentown, PA) 26 April 1920

SACRED CONCERT AT THE LYRIC ON SUNDAY NIGHT[i]

On next Sunday evening the members, friends and well wishers of St. Catherine’s new Catholic church will enjoy a sacred concert which is to be held in the Lyric Theatre. A program thoroughly in keeping with the day and the cause will be carried out. The talent to appear will in the main be composed of professional entertainers, close friends of the men in charge of the affair, who will journey here to lend their aid in proper entertainment and assist in the commenting of the citizens in general. It is to be a gathering of citizens, regardless of creed or class of worship, you are invited to enjoy this music, song and reading festival the program of which is at once entertaining and of a distintive quality.

Prominent among the many artists, more than fifty have so far volunteered, appear the names of the famous Tom Brown saxophone sextette; Alfred Hoffman, cellist, who will be remembered by those who witnessed the performance given by Chauncey Olcott a few weeks ago. (Mr.  Hoffmn will journey from Pittsburgh and will arrive here in time for his contribution); Francis Leedom Hess, a humorous reader of prominence, John Devlin in a like number, Mr. English Cody, tenor, Miss Donna Maritram [sic], prima donna, members of the Charles Eillingham’s [sic] “Chin Chin” company, and an orchestra composed of twelve musicians form a partial list of the ladies and gentlemen who have volunteered their services. The complete program will be announced in a few days.

Invitations and reservations of seats for the occasion will be made ready at the Lyric box office on Wednesday and thereafter.

On Thursday, before the show, the Morning Call had the following article:

The Morning Call (Allentown, PA) 29 April 1920

MUSIC AND SONG FESTIVAL FOR BENEFIT OF CHURCH[ii]

The Spring music and song festival to be held in the Lyric on Sunday evening under the suspices of St. Catherine’s new Catholic church gives every evidence of being one of the most appropriate and pleasing affairs given in the city in some time.

The musical part of the program seems to have been selected with great care. Conspicuous in the listing of events appear the twelve musicians who will comprise the stringed instrument orchestra, Tom Brown’s saxophone sextet, from the “Chin Chin” company; Alfred Hoffman, ‘cellist, from Chauncey Olcott’s company; Mr. English Cody, Tenor and Miss Donna Montram [sic], prima donna with the “Chin Chin” company; John Devlin, humorist; Frances Leedem Hess, reader; Carl Wallender, violinist; a quartet composed of the fine voices of William Morrison, William Porter, George Reese and Clarence Reinert, will render selections.

Another local quartet of much ability, comprising the voices of Robert L. Wheeler, baritone; Wesley hawk, bass; Harold Snyder, first tenor, and Allen Conrad, second tenor, will contribute toward the making of this nothing short of a grand concert. The orchestra will be under the direction of Donald Voorhees.

Prospective patrons are requested to attend to the matter of securing reservations without delay.

The Saturday Morning Call has a short article, SPRINGTIME CONCERT AT LYRIC SUNDAY NIGHT,  that mentioned “Donna Montram.” [sic]

Monday, after the concert, there was an excellent article about the Sunday night concert. It called out Donna specifically.

The Morning Call (Allentown, PA) 3 May 1920

SUNDAY CONCERT IS ENJOYABLE AFFAIR[iii]

Large Audience Delighted With High-Class Numbers on Program

A large audience last evening gathered in the lyric theatre to witness the splendid program that featured the spring time concert that was given under the auspices of the membership of St. Catherine’s Catholic church, the new congregation that has lately sprung up in the western part of the city. It was a program composed largely of musical numbers and with interspersed with reading apropos to the occasion; in fact, it was a program that was pleasing to even the skeptical and most fastidious. The proceeds of the affair are to be used as a part of the building fund for the new church.

A number of the members of the “Chin Chin” company, which plays at the Lyric tonight, assisted greatly in the make-up of the program. The success of the affair is due largely to the willingness with which these performers, as well as the others on the program, volunteered their services for this occasion. Included in the personnel from the company on the program was Miss Donna Montram, the prima donna, who favored with a beautiful vocal solo, and as an encore sand a selection of her own composition entitled “My Mother.” The latter part of the program was ably held down by Tom Brown’s Saxaphone Band. Their performance attested to this fact. Another member of the company on the program was English Cody, who gave a vocal selection.

Alfred Hoffman, cellist for the Chauncey Olcott company, played the Irish Fantasy, his own composition, and later delighted with the “Nocturne” and “The Rosary.” Carl Wallander, leader of the Lyric Orchestra, gave a violin solo. Meditation from Hais; John Devlin delighted with a number of humorous stories. Humorous impersonations of two ladies trying to buy theatre tickets were given by Frances Leedom Hess, of Philadelphia.

Selections were given by a male quartet, composed of R. R. L. Wheeler, baritondl Wesley Hawk, bass; Edward Hagenbuch, first tenor, and Harvey Snyder, second tenor. The Aeolian Quartette, of this city, also favored with several selections. The member of this quartet are Wm. Morrison, first tenor; William Porter, second tenor; George Rees, baritone; Clarence Reinert, bass, and So. W. Unger, accompanist. The members of the orchestra, who rendered several selections, interspersing the other numbers are as follows, Donald Voorhees, conductor Messrs. Wallander, Wavrek, Hoffman, Schatlein, Heintzleman, Wavrek, Brian, Meyers, Schlicher and Schaffer.

Donna registered her song, “Beautiful Mother of Mine,” in 1923. Could this “My Mother” song of hers be an earlier version of “Beautiful Mother of Mine,” or could it be a here-to-for unknown song written by Donna before May 1920.  I’ll continue looking for the music of Donna.

St. Catharine’s Catholic Church

St. t. Catharine Chapel, 1920-1927 – Photo courtesy St. Catharine of Siena website

In October 1919, Rev. John C. Phelan was appointed founder and first rector of a new parish in Allentown. A month later they purchased land, with a house, and set to convert the home to a rectory and acted as a temporary place of worship. In November, they celebrated Mass in the new rectory; by the end of the month, they performed their first marriage.

By the spring of 1920, the parishioners began converting a stable and carriage house into a chapel. The concert to help raise money for the church took place in May 1920. By September, thy completed the carriage house conversion to a chapel. The chapel served the parishioners until 1927 when a new church and school were built.[iv]

I’m proud that Donna helped, through her talents, to raise money to build a new Catholic church in Allentown.



Discover you family history through historical newspapers at Newspapers.com

Endnotes

[i] The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania) · Mon, Apr 26, 1920, · Page 5  – “Sacred Concert at the Lyric on Sunday Night,” via Newspapers.Com

[ii] The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania) · 29 Apr 1920, Thu · Page 5 – “Music and Song Festival for the benefit of Church,” via Newspapers.Com.

[iii] The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania) · Mon, May 3, 1920, · Page 5 – “Sunday Concert is Enjoyable Affair – Large Audience Delighted with High-Class Numbers on Program, via Newspapers.Com.

[iv] “A History of St. Catharine of Siena Parish (Allentown, PA)” – 2020. Cathedral-Church.Org. Accessed January 29, 2020. https://www.cathedral-church.org/history.html.


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