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 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.

“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 – Rajah Theatre – Reading, PA – 24 Apr 1920

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” played at the Rajah Theatre in Reading, PA, on 24 April 1920 

Donna Montran
Chin Chin
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.We know that April, 1920, was a grueling month for the “Chin Chin” cast. On April 22nd they played Frederick, MD. On the 23rd they traveled the 65 miles north to Carlisle, played there one night then on the 80 miles to Reading for another two shows – a matinee and an evening show.

Preshow Advertising

The Reading Eagle – April 18, 1920, Page 16

The first advertising I found was in the Reading Eagle, starting on April 18th. There was a standard ad on page 16, along with a lengthy article about the show.[i]

RAJAH THEATRE

“CHIN CHIN”

Coming to the Rajah Theatre matinee and night, Saturday, April 24,  Charles Dillinghan’s “Chin Chin,” the musical comedy which is one of those tales of love and wishing common to the Arabian Nights.

The Reading Eagle – April 18, 1920, Page 16

All impossibilities are crowded into it, jumbled together like the figures in a dream in the end it resolves itself into a vehicle for the display of the clever grotesqueries of the two clever “turn” artists, Walter Wills and Roy Binder. Mr Wills, whose body seems made of rubber, and whose facial expressions change as quickly as the wheel of fortune gives Chin Hop It Paderewsky, Mlle Falloffski, a gendarme and a ventriloquist, transformations accompanied by such curious tricks and poses such tumbling, dancing, imitating such a running fire of jokes and fun-making that the audience fairly screams with laughter. Mr. Binder gives in rapid succession Chin Hop Lo, the widow, a coolie, and the ringmaster, lightning changes of mood, manner and get-up that provide the audience to mirth. George Usher makes an aggregable and picturesque Aladdin.

The danseuse is Irene McKay, and astonishing acrobatic and step performer whose twinkling feet are full of speed and syncopation. Her number with Mr. Willis entitled “Dance Poetic,” is a remarkable performance ending with a surprise to the audience.

The favorite songs are “The Chinese Honeymoon,” “Good-bye Girls,” “I’m Through” “Volet,” “The Gray Dove,” and “Love Moon.” The most recalled dance and song numbers are the “Teddy Bear Dance,” (without words), “Go Gar Sing Gong-Jue,” “Temple Bells,” The Rag of Rags,” and “Bally Moony.”

The clever saxophone sextette by Tom Brown’s Clown Band is one of the most amusing and delightful bits of the play. The company is one of the largest organizations presenting a musical comedy on the road today. There girls and girls.

There were adds and articles daily in the Reading Eagle or the Reading Times from the 18th through the 23rd. I did not see any that called out Donna directly, but a couple mentioned “Love Moon” being sung, which was a song sung by the Goddess of the Lamp (Donna’s role).

Next Stop

It is likely that the “Chin Chin” cast had off on Sunday, April 26th. However, the show must go on and it played at the Hippodrome in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

Rajah Theatre

The Rajah Theatre between 1917 and 1921
Photo courtesy “Go Reading Berks”

The Rajah Theatre was initially built in the 1800s as a market with a Masonic Temple on its upper floors. It was built on a potter’s field of a cemetery. Although the cemetery interred were supposed to be reinterred at another location, in the early 1800s there were still 30 uncovered during the building during 1873.[ii]  It was converted to a theatre in 1886 and became the Academy of Music.

The 1913 Theatrical Guide indicates that the Academy of Music had a seating capacity of 1,341 – 795 on the Main Floor, 341 in the Balcony, and 206 in the Gallery. Besides the Academy, there were four other theaters in Reading at the time, the Orpheum, Hippodrome, Lyric, and Palace Theatres.

In 1917, The Academy of Music was purchased by the Rajah Shriners, renamed the Rajah Theatre, and became the vaudeville house that “Chin Chin” played at.

Rahah Theatre after the 1921 fire. Photo Courtesy of George M. Meiser IS via Reading Eagle [iii]

In May 1921[iv] the Rajah burned and underwent substantial rebuilding. The theatre reopened on September 10, 1922.

The theater had two more fires, both in 1935, but recovered quickly from them.[v]

In 2000, the building received a $7 million facelift and became the Sovereign Performing Arts Center (named for Sovereign Bank). Today, it is the Santander Performing Arts Center (for the Santander Bank) and is home for the Reading Symphony Orchestra, the Reading Civic Opera Society, and hosts a variety of events.[vi]

Specifications for the Academy of Music (Rajah Theatre)[vii]

  • Proscenium opening: 35.5×32 ft
  • Front to back wall: 32 ft
  • Between side walls: 76 ft
  • Apron 2 ft
  • Between fly girders: 45 ft
  • To rigging loft: 55 ft
  • To fly gallery: 30 ft
  • 10 Dressing rooms

Today

Today, the Rajah Theatre is the Santander Performing Arts Center.

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. Continue reading “Donna – Rajah Theatre – Reading, PA – 24 Apr 1920”

Chin Chin – Regent Theatre – Muskegon, MI – 23 Feb 1920

Donna and “Chin Chin” play at the Regent Theatre in Muskegon, Michigan, on 23 February 1920.

Background

February 1920 was a busy month for the cast and crew of “Chin Chin.” They began the month in Minneapolis and played across Wisconsin, on to Indiana, and then up to Michigan. I know they played the Powers Theatre in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Feb 20th and 21st. They probably had off Sunday, 22 February. Then they opened for one night at the Regent Theatre in Muskegon, Michigan.

Advertising

A standard “To the General Public” announcement was published by Paul J. Schlossman in the Muskegon Chronical on February 18th letting the General Public know that “Chin Chin” was coming to the Regent Theatre on Monday, February 23, 1920.  There would be two shows, a matinee at 2:30 and an evening show at 8:15.

Muskegon Chronicle – 21 FEB 1920, Page 2 (Via Genealogy Bank)

Articles

The Thursday paper before the show featured an article and a photograph. The article read:

Muskegon Chronicle – 19 Feb 1920, Page 10 via Genealogy Bank

Charles Dillingham’s Chin Chin, with a record of two solid years at the Globe theater, New York , and heralded as the greatest of all musical comedies comes to the Regent theater for a matinee and evening performance Monday, Feb. 23.

In the production of “Chin Chin” the producer, Chas. Dillingham is providing a glorious festival of fun and spectacular attractiveness, demonstrations of grotesque acrobatic specialties and dancing in numerous through this very musical concoction. Those who heard “The Pink Lady” and “The Little Café” cannot fail to anticipate with pleasure the prospect of hearing further gems in “Chin Chin” from the gifted composer, Ivan Caryll.

Charles Dillingham long ago established a reputation for good taste in his production so far as color, light, groupings, music and expression go to make up an ensemble. In the company are clever comedians, talented singers and dancers, besides plenty of beautiful, radiant women. The production in its original New York entirety will be seen here. By the box office returns, the most potent argument in the theater when the entertainments such this are under consideration, “Chin Chin” is the greatest and best.

Certainly the most exacting and sophisticated taste will ask for little or nothing more in facile playfulness, pretty dresses, swift dances and prankish amusement than this production has to offer.

Ivan Caryll’s score is rich with ingratiating melodies, and the various stage settings make attractive pictures.

Post Show

It is unlikely that the cast and crew had off on February 24th, so I need to continue searching for a venue that they played that day. It is probably a town between Muskegon and Bay City (but not Grand Rapids). “Chin Chin” played in Bay City on the 25th.

Regent Theater

Theater Image[i]
The Regent Theater, designed by Detroit architect C. Howard Crane, was built by Paul Schlossman in 1916. None of the theatrical guides that I have indicate the specifics of the theater, however, other sources indicate the seating was 1,100. A new façade and marquee were installed in 1939. The theater was demolished in 1972 to make way for the Muskegon Mall. The mall was torn down in 2003.[ii]

 

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map[iii], Muskegon, Michigan, 1940, Image 10, Block 564 – Library of Congress

Today

Today, the location of the Regent Theater is an open park-like area with picnic tables next to the Muskegon Area Transit System.

Further Research

Find a theater guide from the 1920s and incorporate theater specifics from it into this article.

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] Regent Theater in Muskegon, MI – Cinema Treasures. 2019. Cinematreasures.Org. Accessed August 16 2019. http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/41270

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Image 10 Of Sanborn Fire Insurance Map From Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan. “. 2019. The Library Of Congress. Accessed August 16 2019. https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4114mm.g04122195001/?sp=10&r=0.498,0.987,0.434,0.213,0.