Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Oneonta Theatre in Oneonta, New York on 18 May 1920
Oneonta Theatre, Oneonta, New York
Vaudeville – Chin Chin
By Don Taylor
It is not clear where Chin Chin played in the days before Oneonta. On May 15 the show played at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield. May 16th’s and May 17th’s venues are still unknown but the cast made it the 113 miles from Pittsfield to Oneonta.
It seems odd that 10 days before the show there were two letters in the newspaper. The first was from the former manager of the Oneonta Theatre and current manager of the Lyric Theatre in Allentown, PA, where he mentions what a great show “Chin Chin” is and he is making no mistake in booking it. The second letter was from the Oneonta Theatre, presumably manager Ed Moore, wherein he indicated he made an offer to Mr. Dillingham to bring the show to Oneonta. In the letter, he indicates he is waiting for the acceptance of his offer. Meanwhile, there is a standard “Chin Chin” ad on the same page with everything except for the date.
The newspaper on May 12th indicates that Charles A. Goettier, business manager for “Chin Chin” was in Oneonta, and agreements were signed to bring the show to Oneonta.
On May 15th, the newspaper indicated “Chin Chin” would be the last big roadshow for the season. Immediately after “Chin Chin” contractors will work to remove the stage and join the new addition to the current building.
Finally, “Chin Chin” played on the evening of May 18th without a hitch.
There were no reviews that I have found.
Post Show Info
47 Chestnut Street, Oneonta, NY
The Oneonta Theatre was designed by architect Leon H. Lempert and was built in 1897 by Oneonta resident Willard E. Yager. It opened on January 31, 1898. In 1913, a 20×20 screen was added to accommodate silent films.
Specifications for the Oneonta Theatre, Oneonta, NY[i]
Ed. M. Moore, Manager – O. S. Hathaway Owner
Seating Capacity 1,000.
Front to back wall: 35 ft
Between side walls: 60 ft
Between fly girders: 40 ft
To rigging loft: 50 ft
After “Chin Chin” played there on 18 May 1920, the theater continued to prosper. Will Rogers played there in 1927; in 1979 the theater was converted to a two screen “Multiplex.” Stage events stopped there in 1992. The theater has open and closed several times in the past 30 years. The theater is on the National and State Register of Historic Places. Last year (2019) there were plans to renovate Oneonta Theater and presentations indicating the costs of various renovation levels. However, the latest Google street photo indicates that the theatre is still for sale.
All of my newspaper sources for this event were from the Oneonta Star. The Theatrical Guide indicates there as also a “Herald” newspaper. A look at the US Newspaper Directory (Library of Congress – Chronicling America) indicated that the Oneonta Herald was published from 1884 to 1947. The directory showed that The Oneonta Press and Otsego County Democrat was also being published at that time (1898-1922). I should look at those if they become available.
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[i] Julius Cahn—Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory – 1921 – Page 267