“Chin Chin” in Regina, January 15, 1920

Donna In the News
Montran Monday
 

“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 of my grandmother’s exciting show business career of the 1910s and 1920s.

 Article

I discovered several articles in the “Leader-Post” (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) that are newly available at Newspapers.com. The articles showed that “Chin Chin” played at the Regina Theatre for 3 days starting January 15, 1920. Because of those newly available online articles, I was able to add another venue for Donna’s “Chin Chin” tour.

New information added to her career list:

Jan 15-17, 1920 – Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada – Regina Theater

Chin-Chin starts the new year at the Empire Theatre, Edmonton

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Empire Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 1 – 3 January 1920

 Vaudeville/Chin-Chin

We know Donna and “Chin-Chin” played at the Avenue Theater in Vancouver for three days beginning Christmas Day. There are still four days that we don’t know where the company was and it is unlikely that they would travel the 750 miles between Vancouver and Edmonton with no stops between. However, I was able to find “Chin-Chin” at the Empire Theater in Edmonton starting New Year’s Day.

Article transcription:

Edmonton Journal, Thu, Jan 1, 1920, Page 9.

BY PRESS AGENTS

CHIN CHIN AT EMPIRE

There appears to be no doubt that Mr. Charles Dillingham’s stupendous production of “Chin Chin” with Walter Willis and Roy Binder in the lead, will duplicate its record of absolute capacity audiences at the Empire theatre where it will open a three-day engagement with a holiday matinee today.

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, song birds and actresses are in the cast, it appears that the who is to enjoy the place of honor as first favorite is left to the choice of the public.

Tom Brown of the Six Brown Brothers’ famous Saxaphone clown band, composed “That Moaning Saxophone Rag” which is one of the hits of the play.

It is estimated that 250,000 people all from points more than one hundred miles from New York have already seen “Chin Chin” while it was presented at the Globe theatre in New York, and not Mr. Dillingham is actually bringing this his only company in its entirety to the Empire theatre.


CLEVER FANTASY
     “CHIN CHIN” HAS
           MANY BIG SCENES

Musical Comedy at Empire
Says Farewell
Today

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 Aladdin—a very modern Aladdin—very much in love with on American girl, appears in Charles Dillingham’s “Chin Chin,” which closes its engagement at the Em­pire theatre with matinee and evening performances today. 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.

Among the many features in this gigantic show are also the Teddy Bear Dance, Tom Brown’s Clown Saxophone Band, a real circus tent with an “honest-to-goodness” big white circus horse circling around the ring, while Mlle. Falloffski performs the most daring and screamingly funny bareback stunts.

Empire Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Julius Cahn – Gus Hill Theatrical Guide 1913-1914 indicates there were three theatres in Edmonton in 1913. All three were managed by W. B. Sherman. Bert Russell was the Res. Manager at the three theaters also. The theaters were the 1700 customer Sherman Theatre, the 1200 customer Empire Theatre, and the 900 customer Lyceum Theatre. Of the three, the Empire had the smallest stage, only 27×27 and 25 feet front to the back wall.[i]

History of Theater

Empire Theatre ca. 1919. Photo from the Glenbow Archives via LostYEG
(The Country Cousin was released in November, 1919.)

There were three different Empire Theatres in Edmonton.

The first Empire opened in 1906 at McDougal Avenue & Cristabelle Street (100th Street and 101st A Avenue. Three years later the building was abandoned and later demolished.

The second Empire was built as the Edmonton Opera House on 103rd Street north of Jasper and changed its name to The Empire about 1909. This was the theater that “Chin-Chin” played at in January 1920.

A third Empire was built in 1920 and opened in late December 1920.

Further Research

Learn the final disposition of the (second) Empire Theatre

Endnotes & Sources

[i] The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide 1913-1914; Page 695

Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) Jan 1, 1920, Page 9 via Newspapers.com.

Today’s History Lesson – Pantages Vaudeville Theatre – Connect to Edmonton (Powered by Yeg Tel)

 

Donna in the News – Delayed by Train Crash on way to Fort Armstrong

Montran Monday

“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 learn of a new venue for my grandmother’s exciting show business career of the 1910s and 1920s.

Three New Venues discovered.

Another great week of Donna in the News with three new venues discovered and an intriguing note about Donna having been in a train crash.

The Rock Island Argus (Rock Island, Illinois) newspaper dated 29 March 1924 shows that Donna Darling and company played in a song and dance revue at the Fort Armstrong theatre. In another article, from March 31st, the paper indicated that she missed her first show at the Fort Armstrong because of a train crash. I wonder how bad of a crash was it? The crash has the potential of making another great story. I’m looking forward to additional research.

Next, is an ad from the News Record (Neehah, WI) newspaper dated 5 December 1924. The ad shows that the California Motion Picture Bathing Beauties, featuring Donna Darling played at the Neehah theatre on December 8 & 9.

Finally, from the The Record (Hackensack, NJ) dated 23 February, I learned that Donna Darling and Company played at the Lyric Theatre in Hackensack, for three days beginning February 24th.

Three new venues added to her Career List:

  • March 29, 1924 – Rock Island, Illinois – Fort Armstrong – Donna Darling & Company. com
  • December 8-9 – Neenah Theatre, Neenah, Wisconsin – Bathing Beauties featuring Donna Darling. com
  • February 24-26, 1927 – Lyric Theatre, Hackensack, New Jersey, Donna Darling & Co. com

Chin-Chin in the News – 1 Jan 1920 – Edmonton, Alberta

Date: January 1, 1920 – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Empire Theatre

Vaudeville/Chin-Chin

My grandmother was a vaudeville star and I am following her career, trying to learn of her many performances. In October 1919, she joined the cast of the Charles Dillingham production of “Chin-Chin.” “Chin-Chin” played in the US and Canada until June 1920. I monitor several newspaper services watching for new venues that the show played at while she a was a cast member.

This week I found an article in the Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) dated Jan 1, 1920 (via Newspapers.Com).

Edmonton Journal, Thu, Jan 1, 1920, Page 9.

Article transcription:

BY PRESS AGENTS

CHIN CHIN AT EMPIRE

There appears to be no doubt that Mr. Charles Dillingham’s stupendous production of “Chin Chin” with Walter Willis and Roy Binder in the lead, will duplicate its record of absolute capacity audiences at the Empire theatre where it will open a three-day engagement with a holiday matinee today.

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, song birds and actresses are in the cast, it appears that the who is to enjoy the place of honor as first favorite is left to the choice of the public.

Tom Brown of the Six Brown Brothers’ famous Saxaphone clown band, composed “That Moaning Saxophone Rag” which is one of the hits of the play.

It is estimated that 250,000 people all from points more than one hundred miles from New York have already seen “Chin Chin” while it was presented at the Globe theatre in New York, and not Mr. Dillingham is actually bringing this his only company in its entirety to the Empire theatre.

New Venue Added:

Jan 1-3 – Edmonton, Alberta Canada, Empire Theatre – “Chin-Chin”

 

“Chin Chin” plays – Rex Theatre – Chippewa Falls, WI – 11 Feb 1920

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Rex Theater in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, on 11 February 1920

 We know that “Chin Chin” played at the Metropolitan Opera House in Minneapolis from February 1st through the 7th. I do not have any known venues the 8th, 9th, or 10th, but on the 11th, “Chin Chin” played at the Rex Theater in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

Preshow Advertising

Newspapers Mentioned “Chin Chin” was arriving on the 4th of February.[i] A standard full column ad played on February 6th, as did the familiar Wills, Binder, and Girls looking like Brussel sprouts on the stars’ queues.

An article the day before the show said

“Chin Chin” a Show of Good Music

Chippewa Herald (Chippewa Falls, WI) · 07 Feb 1920, Page 5. via Newspapers.Com

The music of Ivan Caryll, which serves to illustrate the story of “Chin Chin” which comes to the Rex tomorrow and in which Walter Wills and Roy Binder demonstrate their wonderful powers of drollery, to say nothing of their skill in dancing, is a demonstration of the wisdom of serving the best kind of music even to an extravaganza. “Chin Chin” is one more proof that good music pays. Music and dancing are so closely allied in these latter days.

Ethel Lawrence as “Violet Bond” the American girl in “Chin Chin,” is a charming little actress and always succeeds in winning the good graces of the audience. Her rendition of the duet, “Love Moon,” with the aid of George Usher as Aladdin, is one of the particular bright spots of the show. We advise that you procure your tickest now. The sale is heavy and the theatre management cannot guarantee to hold any reservations after 6 p. m. Wednesday.

Reviews

The day after the show, the Chippewa Herald reported that:

“Chin Chin” proves Fine Attraction.

Capacity House Pleased with Production at Rex Theatre Last Evening.

Chin Chin came up fully to all expectations….

Theater

The Rex Theatre was originally built in 1906 and named the Victor Theatre. The Victor was a modest theater with a seating capacity of 900 people.  The theatre changed its name to the Rex Theater sometime between 1918 and 1920, when “Chin Chin” played there.

Ravoli Theater. Photo courtesy Tiny LouRugani via Cinema Treasurers.

 In 1930, the theater was renovated for motion pictures, and was reopened as the “Ravoli Theater.” The Ravoli closed sometime before 1960. The building was demolished by 1962.[ii] Today, the location is a Holiday Gas Station.

Endnotes

[i] Chippewa Herald (Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin) · 04 Feb 1920, Wed · Page 3

[ii] Internet: Cinema Treasures: Rivoli Theatre  http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/48876