Donna has “Pleasing Voice,” at the Orpheum Theater – Ogden, Utah – Nov. 26th, 1919

After the two nights in Salt Lake City, the “Chin Chin” company packed up and headed to Ogden, UT, only 35 miles or so, to play at the Orpheum Theater.
The Ogden Standard 22 November 1919

Pre-show hype began on November 18th with a paragraph in the “Theaters” column which said, “Manager Goss announced today he has booked “Chin Chin.” the musical comedy event of the season, which with its company of 65 people, will be here on thanksgiving eve. Charles Goettier, business manager of the show, was in Ogden Sunday, completing arrangements for the company’s appearance.”

The paper on Friday the 21st saw the first advertisement for the show coming to the Orpheum.  There was also a short advertising article about “Chin Chin Comes to Orpheum.” In the paper of the 22nd, there was a larger display ad for “Chin Chin”, an advertising article, and the now familiar photo of the “Four French Dancing Dolls.”   The Ogden Examiner also ran several articles regarding Chin Chin and included the 16 women photo we’ve seen elsewhere.
The Ogden Standard – November 24, 1919

On November 24th, the Ogden Standard ran a new (for us) photo, this time of “The Four Chinese Blossom Girls.”  Unfortunately, the quality of the photo is again insufficient to be sure if Donna is there or which one is Donna.  I believe that the two middle women are other people but Donna could be either end person.  Hopefully, we will find a better image of the four another time.

Apparently there was extremely bad weather the night of the show.  Depending upon which paper you read it was either a gale or a blizzard. In either event the Ogden audience wasn’t daunted by the weather.


Ogden Examiner – Nov. 27, 1919

“Chin Chin” an oriental fantasy, gorgeous in its investiture and colorful settings attracted a good house in the Orpheum theatre last night, dispute the gale that blew on the outside. There were lots of girls, some beautiful and some just girls, but ensemble they made a good impression as their voices blended harmoniously. The costuming showed discriminating taste — Charles Dillingham’s hand plain enough — and the __??__ went over with a bang, but—- And here’s the fly In the ointment– did you ever go up to a soda fountain and asks for a gin fizz or something like, and when you tasted it found that the dispenser forgot to put in the “fizz,” the drink was flat, you know. Well, that was just the matter with this production of “Chin Chin,” the dispenser forgot to put in the fizz –the seasoning was a little short.

However, on the whole, the show went by good after the f!r«t act, and picked up well just about the time the clown band got going strong.

There is  practically no plot to the variegated performance. In the first act there were Aladdin and Violet Bond, a charming young American girl who drops in Pekin in search of a magical lamp, and the action is centered about her adventurer.

Carlton Reiger, well known in Ogden since he first came here with “Mickey” last summer was Aladdin. He joined the show in Denver and despite the short time has been with the show gave a creditable performance.  He had a good lead voice and really was one of the shiny spots in the show.

Roy Binder and Walter Wills were the two dashing comedians who did extremely well in their specialities.

Others who carried their parts better than average were Donna Montran as “Goddess of the Lamp,” Neva Larry as “Sen Sen” and Irene McKay as “Fan Tan,” and Ethel Lawrence as the “American Girl.” Both Miss Montran and Miss Lawrence have pleasing voices.

The Teddy Bear dance was an Irish number and the clown saxophone band was the hit of the evening.

Popular song hits of the evening were: Violet,” “The Gray Moon,” “Love Moon,” “Go Gar Gig Gang Jur,” and “Good-bye Girl.”

Manager J. P. Goss announces Chaundey Oleoit in “Mascushla” on December 3, his first appearance here in ten years

The Ogden Standard also ran a short review. On Nov 28th they said:

“Chin Chin: Seen by Large Number At Orpheum

Despite a very bad blizzard a large attendance was registered at the Orpheum theatre Wednesday night to witness the performance of the musical melange “Chin Chin.”

Unfortunately, however the production was in now way one to call forth very hearty applause or admiration. Much of the music was very old without being at the same time good enough to be worthy of a long remembrance. The costumes and srake [?] settings were fairly attractive. The singing and acting, with one or two exceptions, were not on high grade.

Roy Binder and Walter Wills were the principal comedians and in most of their work did well.

Carlton Reiger, who appeared here as soloist at the first production of the moving picture, “Mickey” was not seen to advantage in his part. By far the most amusing and interesting items of the performance were contributed by the Saxophone Sextet, whose number would be a considerable headliner by itself on any vaudeville bill.

In extenuation of a poor performance it is to be borne in mind that the artists were most probably suffering greatly from cold on the stage.

The Orpheum Theater

The Orpheum Theater – Photo courtesy Utah State Historical Society

The Grand Opera House in Ogden, Utah, was build in 1890.  It was a Romanesque style building with a seating capacity of 1,600 people. In 1909 its name was changed to the Orpheum Theatre after the Orpheum Theater Circuit which was a chain of vaudeville and theaters.  The chain ultimately became the RKO – Radio Keith Orpheum.

In 1928 the theater was renovated with new ventilation and sound; the “Jazz Singer,” the first “talkie” played there in June of 1928.
Seating in the theater continued to get smaller and smaller with each renovation; the Film Daily Yearbook said the theatre’s seating was 1,037 in 1950.

It became exclusively a cinema in the 1940s and operated until 1982.  In 1983 it was torn down to provide additional parking for the Ben Lomond Hotel.


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Donna in Salt Lake City, November 24th & 25th, 1919 at the Salt Lake Theater.

After the one night show in Rock Springs, WY, the “Chin Chin” company packed up and headed to Salt Lake City for two nights at the Salt Lake Theater.
Salt Lake Telegram
November 15, 1919 – Page 7

Pre-show hype began on November 15th with an article, “Melody and Artistry Aid ‘Chin Chin’ to Big Success” in the Salt Lake Telegram.  The article mentions some of the songs by name and, of course, Walter Wills and Roy Binder. An ad, also in that day’s paper, let us know that the prices range from 50 cents to $2.50 (to $2.00 for the matinee).  Most important for us a display article with a photo of “the four leading ladies” was printed.  At this point, Donna was certainly one of the leading ladies of the show (see below), however, neither photos at either Genealogy Bank or the Utah Digital Newspapers site provide enough detail to be certain that Donna is portrayed.  This was a real find as I have never seen this photo anywhere before. I believe Donna is the person on the right.

The 16th brought more advertisements but also a photo of Walter Wills and Roy Binder in their roles. I had not seen that photo anywhere before either. There were a couple ads in the paper on the 20th.
On the 21st, an article, “Mock Love Leads to Real Thing by Stage Stars” The article lets readers know that Walter Wills and Nora Seiler were married the week before.  Mr. Wills takes the part of “Chin Hop Hi” and Miss Seiler [Mrs.Wills] the part of “Moon Blossom.”
Salt Lake City Tribune November 16, 1919

The November 22nd paper (Salt Lake Telegram) has a lovely article, “Chin Chin, Gotham Musical Hit, Coming to Salt Lake,” which describes the sets, costumes, and sounds of the production.  There is also a photo of sixteen of the women who are in the show. I am sure that Donna is included in the photos, but the quality isn’t quite good enough to be certain.

The November 23rd paper has an article in the “At the Theaters” section which calls Donna out by name.

DO YOU remember when 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 an American girl appears in Charles Dillingham’s “Chin Chin” which comes to the Salt Lake theatre tomorrow night with matinee Tuesday. 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 150 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.

Other principals with this, the only production of’ “Chin Chin” are: Donna Montran, Edna Peekham, Jessie Walsh, Violet Tree, Nora Seiler, Ethel Lawrence, Marie Cavanaugh, Helen McDonald, Margaret Sharps, Joseph Robinson, Carlton Reager, Richard Bosch, English Cody and George Phelps, also Joseph Boyle and Thomas Bell as “Frisco” horse, and a largo singing chorus of pretty girls.

The 24th brings several ads, notes regarding the schedule at the theater and an article, “‘Chin Chin’ to Open Tonight at Salt Lake. A review on the 25th mentions, in an article, “Chinesy Musical Comedy Pleases At Salt Lake,” that “there isn’t a New York cast, but that is nothing to scoff about. To the contrary, there are a bunch of people in the cast who do not appear worn to tatters by a season on Broadway. The chorus appears fresh; the girls are pretty and their costumes are new and pleasing.”


The article goes on to to mention Walter Wills, Roy Binder, Carlton Reiger and Ethel Lawrence by name.

The Salt Lake Theater

Salt Lake Theatre – Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Brigham Young announced the project and pursued its completion in 1861, eight years before the transcontinental Railroad was complete, which linked Salt Lake City with both the east and the west. The Salt Lake Theater was large for its day, with an estimated capacity of 1,500.  Amazingly large to support a city of only 12,000 people at the time.

That original theater was renovated in 1873, a renovation which gave the interior an elegance similar to the opera houses of Europe while maintaining the simple lines of the exterior.

The last performance at the theater was 20 October 1928.  A battle ensued with many people wanting to preserve the theater.

Eventually, the theater was razed to make way for a gas station.  The gas station was replaced in 1963 with six story building, which today houses an AT&T office, a Century Link office, and several other businesses.  There is an historical plaque remembering the theater, at its original location which is now 70 South State Street.

Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 15, 1919, Pages 7 & ?  via Genealogy Bank and Utah Digital Newspapers
Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 16, 1919, Pages  ?  via Utah Digital Newspapers
Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 20, 1919, Pages  ?  via Utah Digital Newspapers
Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 21, 1919, Pages 21 & ?  via Genealogy Bank and Utah Digital Newspapers
Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 22, 1919, Pages 18, 7 & ?  via Genealogy Bank and Utah Digital Newspapers
Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 23, 1919, Page ?  via and Utah Digital Newspapers
Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 24, 1919, Pages 15 & ?  via Genealogy Bank and Utah Digital Newspapers
Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, UT) Nov 25, 1919, Pages 10 & ?  via Genealogy Bank and Utah Digital Newspapers
History to Go –  Salt Lake Theater

Historical Marker Database – The Salt Lake Theater