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

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:


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


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”

Carlisle Opera House, 23 April 1920

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play the Carlisle Opera House on 23 April 1920 

Finishing their one-night show On April 22nd at the Frederick City Opera House, the cast and crew of “Chin Chin” packed up and rolled the 65 miles north to Carlisle, PA for the show the next night at the Carlisle Opera House.

Photo of Cast of Chin Chin on stage - Carlisle Opera House
Cast of “Chin Chin” – Carlisle Opera House – 23 April 1920

Pre-show advertising on April 17th indicates, “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 she who is to enjoy the place of honor as first favorite is left to the choice of the public.”[i]

However, two days later there was an advertising article which called out Donna specifically – “Miss Donna Montran as the goddess of the lamp sings some pleasing songs and has a very attractive personality.”[ii]

The show appears to have gone on without a hitch, and the show packed up and headed east to Reading for a show the next night.

Carlisle Opera House

photo of Carlisle Opera House - Decorated for Jim Thorpe's homecoming in 1912
Carlisle Opera House – Decorated for Jim Thorpe’s homecoming in 1912 (Courtesy: Ohio History Connection)

Carlisle is the county seat of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Currently a small town of about 20,000, in 1920 the borough’s population was about 11,000. The theatre is said to have seated over 1000 people; however, the stage size was relatively small.  The proscenium opening was only 26 feet wide and 20 feet high.[iii]

It is unclear to me when the Carlisle Opera House was built; however, it was certainly in operation before 1888, when the Dickenson College Glee Club sang there.[iv]

In 1898, the Carlisle Opera House building in Carlisle housed a barber shop, billiard room. and bowling alley on the ground level, with the opera house on the second floor, and Masonic meeting rooms on the third floor.”[v]

It appears to have been closed sometime between 1955 and 1959 as it was opened on May 9, 1959, for a presentation of “Hansel and Gretel” put on by the students of Dickinson College.[vi]

The building was destroyed by fire in August 1972 in a fire that killed two people.[vii]


[i] Carlisle Evening Herald (Carlisle, Pennsylvania) – Sat, Apr 17, 1920 – page 5 – “The Musical Melange of Chin Chin.”
[ii] Carlisle Evening Herald (Carlisle, Pennsylvania) · Mon, Apr 19, 1920, · Page 7 – “CHIN CHIN”.
[iii] The Julius Cahn – Gus Hill Theatrical Guide – 1910, Page 679, Carlisle.
[iv] “The Dickinsonian – Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, March 1888, Page 10, THE COLLEGE GLEE CLUB CONCERT –
[v] Condee, William Faricy – Coal and Culture: Opera Houses in Appalachia – Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio 45701 (c) 2005 – Pages 54 & 55.
[vi] “The Dickinsonian” – Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, Friday, May 1, 1959, Page 3, ‘BUCKET’ OPENS FOR DICKINSON PRESENTATION.
[vii] Cinema Treasurers – The Strand Theatre –