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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