Chin Chin – Lyceum Theatre – Paterson, NJ – May 7th & 8th 1920.

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Lyceum Theatre in Paterson, New Jersey on 7 & 8 May 1920.

Donna Montran
Chin Chin
Vaudeville

“Chin Chin” played in Wilkes-Barre, PA on May 4th.  I haven’t determined where the show was on May 5th or 6th. However, by the 7th, it had progressed the 110 miles east to Patterson.

Preshow Advertising

Advertising for the show began with a May 1st article:[i]

“Chin Chin” to Come to Lyceum

Manager Guggenheim of the Lyceum Theatre, Patterson, has secured Charles Dillingham’s only company presenting that wonderful spectacle of “Chin Chin”, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 7 and 8, with a matinee Saturday. This riot of fun, feast of music and bevy of feminine beauty appeared at the Globe theatre in New York for two solid years and is heralded as the greatest musical comedy success emanating from the gay white way. In the leading comedy roles are Walter Wills and Roy Binder.

In this musically rich show spontaneous approval is always accorded such melodious turns as “Good-Bye Girls, I’m Through”, “Love Moon”, The Grey Moon”, “Go Gar Sig Gong-Jue”. The comedy song, and “The Ragging of the Rag of Rags”.-adv.

Show Advertising

The Morning Call – Sat, May 8, 1920

Advertising continued daily through the last ad in both the Patterson and the Passaic newspapers. The show played on May 7th and the May 8th issue of The Morning Call (Patterson, NY) had a call-out which mentioned Donna. It said, in part,

Interwoven into this sparkling comedy of melody is a fairy-tale romance, bringing into play Aladdin and his lamp. Donna Montran, impersonating Violet, meets Aladdin (Star Dunham) at a toy bazar. You all know the story of the mysterious lamp. Suffice it to say that whoever secures the lamp may have any wish granted as it is wished. Aladdin wished for Violet. He got her. Not until the lamp had brought many complications, however.

Post Show Info

I’m not sure where the show went from there, but five days later it had worked its way 175 miles north to Bennington, Vermont.

Lyceum Theatre – Patterson, NJ

The theater was located at 125 Van Houten St., next door to the local fire station, and had a seating capacity of 1,950.

Specifications for the Lyceum Theatre[ii]

The Lyceum is on the right beyond the fire station.

Front to back wall: 45 ft
Between side walls: 80 ft
Between fly girders: 10 ft
To rigging loft: 52 ft

Newspapers —”Chronicle,” “Call,” “News,” “Press,” “Passaic News,” “Herald.”  I haven’t found the “Chronicle” or the “Press” issues.

What Happened to the Theater

On March 22, 1931, the Paterson Lyceum theater burned to the ground.[iii]

Today

Today, the location the Paterson Lyceum theater occupied is a parking ramp.

Disclaimer

The ads and some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” If you purchase after clicking on them, I will receive a small commission which will help me pay for this site. Please see my Disclaimer Page for more information.


Endnotes

[i] Passaic Daily Herald (Passaic, New Jersey) · Sat, May 1, 1920, · Page 4, Column 1.jpg

[ii] The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide And Moving Picture Directory. New York, N.Y.: Julius Cahn-Gus Hill, 1921. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/coo.31924063709764?urlappend=%3Bseq=300 accessed 12 March 2020.

[iii] “PATERSON FIRE JOURNAL & NORTH JERSEY FIRE HISTORY”. Patersonfirejournal.Blogspot.Com. Accessed March 12, 2020. http://patersonfirejournal.blogspot.com/2015/.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 60 – Parkway Theatre

Donna Montran – Vaudeville
Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at eight images all relating to the Parkway Theatre. None of the clippings indicate what city the show is taking place in and none of the clippings provide a date. Donna’s 1924-1925 show went by many different names, Hollywood Bathing Beauties,” “California Bathing Beauties Revue,” and “Bathing Beauties Revue featuring Donna Darling. A film mentioned, “The Painted Flapper,” was released in October 1924, so Donna’s show most likely within the three months after the film’s release.

From other research, I knew that Donna played at the Parkway Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin from January 11 to the 15th. Could this be the Parkway Theatre of Donna’s Scrapbook?

A quick review said, yes, these clippings came from that show. Many of the clippings were identical to articles I found online so, I feel comfortable these clipping for the Parkway are from Donna’s Madison Show.

PARKWAY

Clipping from the Donna Darling Collection.
Clipping from newspapers.com

THE CALIFORNIA BATHING BEAUTIES REVUE

Direct from the Studios at Hollywood
In Person
featuring

DONNA DARLING
Creator of principal role in “Chin Chin” star of “Girl Behind the Gun;” winner of Madison Square beauty contest.
MR. MURRY EARLE Late feature dancer for George White Scandals
ALL ROSS & ALICE LOUISE Dances and Comedians
MISS BETTY BRYANT – Know for her comedy team work.
MISS MILDRED O’BRIEN – In Mack Sennett Comedies
MISS CLARICE ALLYN – Toe Dancer
MISS KATHERYN KOLLEEN – Dancer
MISS MYRTLE CARLSON – Dancer


PARKWAY
Same info as the previous ad, plus additional info about the accompanying motion picture, “The Painted Flapper: An Ultra Modern Jazzology” starring James Kirkwood and Pauline Garon.

(Note: Donna cut off the ads for coming attractions. )


Parkway

Clipping from the Donna Darling Collection.

The much heralded Bathing Girl Revue headed by Miss Donna Darling and her motion picture studio girls made it bow to Parkway Patrons yesterday and won applause. Their offering is fast, clean and colorful and thoroughly devoid of anything that smacks of the sensational often associated with the miniature revues.

Identical article in the Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI) · 12 Jan 1925, Page 7.

The plot, though not a new one, is unique in development. In a short half hour one is whipped through a mirage of singing and dancing numbers following in quick succession, telling a history of the bathing suit from Grandmother’s day down to the present time, with a side trip around the world including stop offs at various beach resorts. The costumes are elaborate, the setting pleasing and the lighting effects unusual.

Of the cast Miss Darling stand out by right of her personality, beauty and grace. She was ably assisted by Murry Earl, a dancer of accomplishment. Miss Betty Bryant, for her demon dancing in the Mars episode and dainty Clarice Allyn’s Chinese bathing girl number deserve special mention.


BATHING BEAUTIES OF MOVIES IN REVUE AT PARKWAY

Bathing girls from various California motion picture studios will make a personal appearance in a colorful Hollywood Revue at the Parkway this week, beginning today. This review is a clever musical and dancing number which will show the Parkway patrons that these versatile girls can do other things than merely pose before the camera.

Miss Donna Darling, who comes direct from the Mack Sennett studios, is the charming star who introduces the Bathing Beauties dressed in bathing costumes dating from 1860 to the present day. Betty Bryant is the “Miss America of 1925.” Bathing costumes of various countries and fashionable sea-shore centers are introduced. Chief among these numbers is Mildred O’Brian, who appear as the beauty from Palm Beach. Miss Darling’s life guards, Murry Earl and Al Ross, add comedy to the Egyptian dance while petite Clarice Allyn as the Chinese bathing girl enhances the offering with clever toe dancing.

Elaborate costumes have been selected for this sparkling revue. The music is snappy and the production has brilliant scenic and lighting effects.


There was a large ad that ran across two pages in Donna’s scrapbook. It shows Donna on the left and two of the other girls. I have not identified either of them yet. I suspect one of them is probably Betty Bryant, but the other could be Mildred O’Brian or Clarice Allyn or even one of the other two girls. I’ll need to research that further.

Conclusion

The Donna Darling Collection provided new information about her show at the Parkway Theatre, Madison Wisconsin on January 11 to the 15th, 1925.

Follow-up Actions

I’ll need to search for photos of the other individuals of the show that are in the advertising.

Sources

Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin) · 12 Jan 1925 · Page 7.

Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin) · 14 Jan 1925 · Page 15.

Donna in the News – 10 March 1927

Donna Darling Revue. at the Carolina Theatre, Charlotte, SC, March 10 & 11, 1927.

I recently found two ads that ran in the Charlotte Observer on March 10 & 11, 1927. The “Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark” was mentioned as playing at the Carolina Theatre. Donna was the second act.

Ad for acts playing at the Carolina Theatre, 10 March 1927 includes the Donna Darling Revue.
Ad for the Carolina Theater, Charlotte, SC, on 10 March 1924 showing the Donna Darling Revue. Image via Newspapers.com

On stage with Donna were:

  • Baldwin & Blair in “Hay! Hay” (the headline act)
  • Donia and Dunlevy — The Italian Sheik and Southern Gentleman
  • Corinne Arbuckle
  • Lamont Four

Plus the Film Version of Belasco stage success “The Music Master.”

Chin-Chin – Wilkes-Barre – May 4, 1920

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Grand Opera House in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on 4 May 1920.

Vaudeville
Chin-Chin
 

“Chin Chin” played at the Lyric Theatre in Allentown on the 3rd and cast and crew headed the 60 plus miles north to Wilkes-Barre.

Advertising

Advertising for the show began a week before with a page 3 photo and both a display and a short writeup telling the readers about the coming show. Eventually, three papers[i] would all let the people about the show.

It must have been a big deal to play at the Grand Opera House. It was one of the few theaters at the time that hadn’t added silent films to their schedule and remained a strictly live theater establishment. Advertising copy was upscale and thoughtful. For example, “‘Chin Chin’ at the Grand” spoke about the popular translation of The Thousand Nights and One Night, translated by John Payne, even though “Chin Chin” only used the concept of many stories in one and not having a plot.

Sadly, Donna was never called out specifically, although some of the songs she sang were mentioned as part of the “Musically Rich Show.”[ii]

Post Show Info

I still have not determined where Donna and Chin Chin played on May 5th or May 6th, but by May 7th, they were 140 miles east to Patterson, New York.

Grand Opera House, Wilkes-Barre, PA

I have never had such a difficult time learning about a theatre as I have in learning about the Grand Opera House in Wilkes-Barre. I’ve been unable to find photographs or postcards of the venue. I cannot even find a reliable source for its build date. Certainly, the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of 1891 shows that the Theatre was NOT there.  Likewise, the 1892 City Directory doesn’t mention the Opera House as either a “Hall” or by address. However, the 1893 City Directory does indicate that the Theatre was there at 13 South Franklin and that Moses Burgunder was the manager. So, I believe that the Opera House was probably built in 1892.

The Joseph Cahn – Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory for 1921 reported that the theater seated 1290 people, 464 on the main floor, 280 in the Balcony, 500 in the Gallery, and 46 in box sets.

Specifications for the Grand Opera House, Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Proscenium opening: 36×34 ft
Front to back wall: 36 ft
Between side walls: 60 ft
Apron 2 ft
Between fly girders: 46 ft
To rigging loft: 60 ft
To fly gallery: 38 ft
and there were 12 Dressing rooms

I have been unsuccessful in determining what happened to theater, although I know that it has been demolished.

Today the site is a parking lot.

Further Research

I have contacted several organizations in hopes to learn more about the Grand Opera House in Wilkes-Barre. I will incorporate that information when I learn more. 

Endnotes

[i] The Evening News, The Wilkes-Barre Record, and the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader.

[ii] The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) · Mon, May 3, 1920 · Page 5, “At the Grand.”

 

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.