Donna in the News – “Chin Chin” plays the La Crosse Theatre, Feb. 10, 1920

This week from the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, WI) newspapers dated February 4th through the 10th, 1920.

I’ve long known that Donna and the cast of “Chin Chin” played at the Metropolitan Opera House in Minneapolis from February 1st through the 7th, and played in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin on February 11th.   However, it would be unlikely that the should would go three days without a show. Thanks to Newspapers.Com[i], I learned this week that “Chin Chin” also played at the La Crosse Theatre, in La Crosse, Wisconsin on February 10th.

The troupe’s February itinerary began:

I’m still wondering if “Chin Chin” played somewhere on the 9th. Probably.  Time will tell.


“Donna in the News” is my report of newly discovered 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.


Endnotes

[i] The La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, WI) dated 4 February 1920, Page 4, Column 5, et al. Accessed via Newspapers.Com on 10 Jan 2019.

Donna in the News – “Chin Chin” is Well Liked… in Saskatoon

“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 for my grandmothers exciting show business career of the 1910s and 1920s.

This week two articles from two newspapers in Saskatoon.

  • Saskatoon Daily Star (Saskatoon, Canada) dated January 13, 1920.
  • Star Phoenix (Saskatoon, Canada) dated January 13, 1920.

“Chin Chin” in Saskatoon – January 1920

I have long known that Donna and the cast of “Chin Chin” played in Calgary on January 8th through the 10th and in Regina on January 15th through the 17th.  I suspected that the show played in Saskatoon, SK, in between the two shows but had no evidence of it. Sure enough, newly digitized newspaper pages at Newspapers.Com showed two callouts for Donna among some 18 articles and advertisements for “Chin Chin” playing in Saskatoon on January 12, 13, and 14.

On January 13th, the Daily Star wrote, “Outstand among the other principals were Donna Montran as the goddess of the lamp, Neva Larry….”

Also, on January 13th, the Star Phoenix wrote, “Donna Montran has a nice voice and puts two very pretty songs across to advantage. Star Dunham.…”

New information added to the Madonna Montran career list:

Jan 12-14, 1920 – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada – Empire Theatre (Newspapers.com)

 

Chin Chin – Weller Theatre – Zanesville, OH – April, 13 1920

“Chin Chin” played at the Weller Theatre in Zanesville, Ohio, on 13 April 1920

Donna Montran
Vaudeville
Chin-Chin

The company of “Chin Chin” played at the 6th Street Theater in Coshocton, Ohio for one night, April 12, 1920. Then the show headed on the train for their next stop, Zanesville, Ohio and the Weller Theater for another one-night show on April 13th.

The “Chin-Chin” show agent arrived in Zanesville about April 7th to begin his promotion of the show.  The Times Recorder of April 9th, reported:

“CHIN CHIN” BREAKING ALL ATTENDANCE RECORDS

Charles A. Goettler, the representative of “Chin Chin” the musical extravaganza, which will appear at the Weller theater, was the guest of Manager Charles Ransbottom Wednesday, and while in the city held an impromptu levee for his many friends at his hotel. He is well known among the theatrical colony having been out with some of the biggest shows on the road in years past. Mr. Goettler said that “Chin Chin” was breaking all attendance records in the prominent theaters of the country this season and was a greater success than when seen here before. Willis and Binder, former stars with “Hitchy Koo,” “Wizard of Oz,” ant the Winter Garden shows, have succeeded Doyle and Dixon in the leading roles.

Times Recorder 4/9/1920

Manager Charles Ransbottom, along with Joseph West Junior began managing the Weller Theatre just three months earlier (January 8).[i] They were then replaced on April 13th with the opening of “Chin Chin” by Caldwell H. Brown and Charles W. Crawley.[ii]

Another article, Saturday, April 10, 1920, in the Times Recorder, page 5, reported:

CHIN CHIN COMING TO THE WELLER TUESDAY

At the Weller theater next Tuesday, the everlasting “Chin Chin” is announced. There is but on company presenting this, the greatest American musical comedy.

Seven gorgeous settings make up one stupendous production of Charles Dillingham’s “Chin Chin.” The principal comedians are Walter Wills and Roy Binder. This riot of fun, feast of music, bevy of feminine beauty with pretty dresses, swift and grotesque dancing and lots of prankish amusement including Tom Brown’s clown band as the famous saxophone Sexted, promises a most enjoyable entertainment with Charles Dillingham’s own company presenting this wonderful spectacle.

In this musically rich show such numbers as violet,” “Good-by Girls, I’m Through,” and the comedy song, “Go Gar Sig Gong-Jue,” always receive spontaneous applause.

The next known showing of “Chin Chin” is on April 20 in Cumberland, Maryland.

Weller Theatre, Zanesville, Ohio

 The Weller Theatre was designed by Frederick Elliot and Harry C. Meyer of Columbus, Ohio. The theatre opened on 27 April 1903 by Samual Weller, with the production of the “comic opera” “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” And as noted before, it was the first show opening when managed by Caldwell H. Brown and Charles W. Crawley.[iii]

Specifications for the Weller Theatre [vi]

Weller Theatre, Zanesville, OH

Seating Capacity – 1427 — L.F. 609; Bal., 362, Gal., 400; Boxes, 56.


Proscenium opening: 35×33 ft
Front to back wall: 39.5 ft
Between side walls: 70 ft
Apron 3.5 ft
Between fly girders: 47 ft
To rigging loft: 69 ft
To fly gallery: 28 ft

Nearby info

Hotels in Zanesville at the time included the Rogge and Clarendon, which were $2.50 & up per night, and the  Palace, and New England hotels which were 50ç & up per night.[iv]

What happened to theater

The theatre was closed[v] and the building demolished in 1963.[vi]

Today

The Weller Theatre stood at 13 N. Third Street. Today it is a vacant area with a small building between Fox Law Offices and the Calvary Chapel.

Further Research

Research the other Zanesville newspapers of the time: Courier, Signal, and News as they become available.

Find any showings for “Chin Chin” between April 14th and April 19th. 

Endnotes:


[i] New York Clipper – January 14, 1920, Page 4, Column 3m “Zanesville Manager Retires.”

[ii]  New York Clipper – April 21, 1920,  Page 31, “Weller Theatre Changes Again.”

[iii]  New York Clipper – April 21, 1920,  Page 31, “Weller Theatre Changes Again.”

[iv] The Julius Cahn – Gus Hill Theatrical Guide – 1913-1914, Page 533.

[v] Internet: Weller Theatre in Zanesville, OH – Cinema Treasures http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/41209 – Accessed 12/30/2018.

[vi] Lynch, Kathryn, and Michael S. Sims. 2005. Zanesville. Charleston, SC: Arcadia.


Donna Montran – 6th Street Theatre, Coshocton, OH – 4/12/1920

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” played at the 6th Street Theatre in Coshocton, Ohio on 12 April 1920

 The “Chin Chin” production played at the Union Theatre in New Philadelphia, OH, on April 10th. They may have had off on Sunday, April 11th, or they may have played somewhere on that Sunday. But any event the cast traveled the 30 miles to Coshocton to play at the 6th Street Theatre on Monday the 12th for one night.  Advertising began on April 7th with typical written ads and display ads beginning on April 9th. The newspaper the day of the show describes the show and includes some of the characters in the show, including my grandmother, “The Goddess of the Light.”

Reviews

The following day a reviewer in The Coshocton Tribune praised the show. The second paragraph of the review read:

“… Starr Dunham appeared in the role of Aladdin while the part of the cruel Abonazar was well taken by Joseph Robinson. The wealthy American, Cornelius Bond was played by English Cody, while Ethel Lawrence appeared as his charming daughter Violet. The Goddess of the Lamp, an unusually pretty and charming girl, who never failed to delight her audience with her solo numbers, was Donna Montran…. 

Post Show Info

The cast next headed 30 miles further south to Zanesville, Ohio and the Weller Theatre for the show on Tuesday the 13th.

The 6th Street Theatre

The 6th Street Theatre was built in 1903 by a group of businessmen who called themselves the Coshocton Theater Company. The Julius Cahn Reports for 1913 indicate the Seating capacity was about 1,000. The theater was on the ground floor and had a proscenium opening of 32 x 22 feet.

6th Street Theatre, Coshocton, Ohio in 1959.

Eventually, the theater converted to a movie house and it closed in May 1959. The building was demolished in 1974.

Sources

The Tribune (Coshocton, Ohio) · Sat, Apr 10, 1920, · Page 3, Advertising “Chin Chin” https://www.newspapers.com/image/323058644 – Downloaded on Sep 1, 2017, via Newspapers.Com.

The Tribune (Coshocton, Ohio) · Tue, Apr 13, 1920, · Page 3, Column 4 “6th St. Theatre – Chin Chin Drew Large Audience” – https://www.newspapers.com/image/323057655 – Downloaded on Sep 1, 2017, via Newspapers.Com.

“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.