UPDATE – “Chin-Chin” – Regina Theatre – Regina, SK – January 15-17, 1920

Donna Montran
Chin-Chin
Vaudeville

Subsequent to my original look at Donna and the Chin Chin cast playing at the Regina Theater, in Regina, SK, Canada, (See original post.) I found a great new article about that show which included a mention of Donna. The review provides one of the best descriptions of the show I’ve seen.

‘CHIN-CHIN’ HAS COMEDY TO BURN AT THE REGINA

Extravaganza of Nonsense, Specialties and Wardrobe
in New York Fantasy Show

Newspaper Clipping - Chin Chin Has Comedy to Burn at the Regina.
The [Regina] Leader Post, January 16, 1920 – Page 16, Column 2 (Via Newspapers.Com)
Have no fear of anything highbrow occurring in “Chin Chin.” It doesn’t. “Chin Chin” is full of burlesquerie, grotesquerie and diablerie. A suggestion of the childhood classic, “Aladdin’s Lamp,” reappearing through all the scenes provides the skeleton for an extravagance of nonsense, specialties and wardrobe. The magic lamp provides the element of plausibility for all the absurdities that happen.

Uproarious Fun

Walter Wills and Roy Binder are the comedians who provide all the uproarious scenes in their manifold characters as Chin Hop Li, Chin Hop Low, Padereweski, Mlle. Falloffski, the ventriloquist, a pair of gendarmes, a duplicate Widow Twanky, a pair of coolies, and a circus ring-master, falling of into the character of a pair of impertinent poll-parrots at any part in the proceedings, giving no notice of motion whatever.

The two hard-working fun-makers have a dozen principals and two dozen chorus-girls to help them keep the audience entertained. This is not counting the trick horse for the circus scene, nor the four animated teddy bears, nor the wonderfully clever saxophone clown sextet.

Astonishing Dance

Walter Mills and Miss Irene Mackay have an astonishingly twinkling and acrobatic dance which quite takes the breath from the audience, though the dancers bob up serenely after madly romping through their business. As a final encore the man comes on with a dummy figure which the house mistakes for the little lady Fan Tay and after a brief breathless dance tosses the supposed human figure over an eight-foot wall into the wings.

Another big scene put on by Wills is his glorified Paderewski. There aren’t any attitudes he fails to strike while playing nor any musical paganisms he doesn’t commit on his little old piano. His mimicry there was rivalled by Binder’s impersonation of the very personable Widow Twanky. Dummies happen where they were not watch for, and then in the ventriloquist act what one thought was a very badly-jointed dummy turns out to be a human. “What’s the use?” was one’s conclusion after trying for a couple of hours to guess what was happening either then or next.

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Starr Dunham is a real story-book sort of Aladdin, pleasing as a picture in his fairy-tale toggery, modest of miem, well equipped as dancer and singer. Miss Ethel Lawrence as Violet, daughter of the United Son of Affluence, has a wealth of charm as to person and costume; and Donna Montram[sic], the goddess of the lamp, delighted with her solos, “Violet” and  “Grey Dove;” while Carrie Dale played the winsome Widow Twankey to queen’s taste. “Good-bye, Girls, I’m Through,” “Chinese Honeymoon,” “Chipper China Chaps,” “Love Moon,” “Bally Mooney,” and the clown’s band’s music will all be remembered with no falling of the spirit.

The settings are all quite lavish, but the red-gold and orange-brown tea-shop for the New Year’s celebration, with the chorus in harmonizing tones, was charming in the extreme.—I. M.

Chin Chin – Oneonta Theater, Oneonta, NY – May 18, 1920

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Oneonta Theatre in Oneonta, New York on 18 May 1920

Oneonta Theatre, Oneonta, New York
Vaudeville – Chin Chin
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.It is not clear where Chin Chin played in the days before Oneonta. On May 15 the show played at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield. May 16th’s and May 17th’s venues are still unknown but the cast made it the 113 miles from Pittsfield to Oneonta.

Preshow Advertising

It seems odd that 10 days before the show there were two letters in the newspaper. The first was from the former manager of the Oneonta Theatre and current manager of the Lyric Theatre in Allentown, PA, where he mentions what a great show “Chin Chin” is and he is making no mistake in booking it. The second letter was from the Oneonta Theatre, presumably manager Ed Moore, wherein he indicated he made an offer to Mr. Dillingham to bring the show to Oneonta. In the letter, he indicates he is waiting for the acceptance of his offer. Meanwhile, there is a standard “Chin Chin” ad on the same page with everything except for the date.

The newspaper on May 12th indicates that Charles A. Goettier, business manager for “Chin Chin” was in Oneonta, and agreements were signed to bring the show to Oneonta.

On May 15th, the newspaper indicated “Chin Chin” would be the last big roadshow for the season. Immediately after “Chin Chin” contractors will work to remove the stage and join the new addition to the current building.

Show Advertising

Finally, “Chin Chin” played on the evening of May 18th without a hitch.

Reviews

There were no reviews that I have found.

Post Show Info

It is still unclear where “Chin Chin” played the next two days, but the show played the Smith Opera House, Geneva, NY, (130 miles west of Oneonta) three days later, on May 21, 1920.

Oneonta Theatre
47 Chestnut Street, Oneonta, NY

Oneonta Theatre Marquee in 1929. Photo Credit: Uploaded to Cinema Treasures on 7 Feb 1014 by CharmaineZoe

The Oneonta Theatre was designed by architect Leon H. Lempert and was built in 1897 by Oneonta resident Willard E. Yager. It opened on January 31, 1898.  In 1913, a 20×20 screen was added to accommodate silent films.

Specifications for the Oneonta Theatre, Oneonta, NY[i]

Ed. M. Moore, Manager – O. S. Hathaway Owner
Seating Capacity 1,000.

Front to back wall: 35 ft
Between side walls: 60 ft
Between fly girders: 40 ft
To rigging loft: 50 ft

After “Chin Chin” played there on 18 May 1920, the theater continued to prosper. Will Rogers played there in 1927; in 1979 the theater was converted to a two screen “Multiplex.” Stage events stopped there in 1992. The theater has open and closed several times in the past 30 years. The theater is on the National and State Register of Historic Places. Last year (2019) there were plans to renovate Oneonta Theater and presentations indicating the costs of various renovation levels.  However, the latest Google street photo indicates that the theatre is still for sale.

Today



Further Research

All of my newspaper sources for this event were from the Oneonta Star. The Theatrical Guide indicates there as also a “Herald” newspaper.  A look at the US Newspaper Directory (Library of Congress – Chronicling America) indicated that the Oneonta Herald was published from 1884 to 1947. The directory showed that The Oneonta Press and Otsego County Democrat was also being published at that time (1898-1922).  I should look at those if they become available.

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]  Julius Cahn—Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory – 1921 – Page 267

“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.

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”

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/.