Donna Darling Collection – Part 71

Stratton Theatre – 14 April 1922.

Treasure Chest Thursday
Vaudeville
Donna Darling
As You Like It

By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at two clippings from the Donna Darling Collection relating to the Stratton Theatre.


THEATRES

| WN DAILY TIMES-PRESS, FRIDAY, APRIL 14, 19 |

Stratton Offers Big Program

The acts at the Stratton are all wonderful. To pick the headline act would be quite a task but after one looks at beautiful Donna Darling and her dancing boys he will begin to sit up and take real notice. Her presentation is a miniature musical comedy which might be styled “An Act a Minute.” Murray Walker in his imitation of Pat Rooney was very good. Jack Finney the other boy with Miss Darling proved himself a dancing demon. The Rising Generation might be classed as one of the best child acts on the American stage today. Credit for this splendid offering goes to Miss Maude Daniels who has arranged this very pretty offering and the training of the children. James (Fat) Thompson and Al Petrie appear in a comedy barrage entitled “The Comoufleures.” James Valdare comes along with something new in the line of comedy cycling. Piasno and Bingham in “At the Barber Pole” have a very novelty skit which proves to be a choice bit of amusement. A big time act, “Yachting,” presented by Tom Brown, with Harry Voltaire and Arline Lloyd. This act might be styled as a musical cruise with oceans of melody. Sheehan and Richards present a |

Very bright offering of chatter and song that pleases all.

The big feature photoplay is Pola Negri in “The Last Payment.” The scenes are thrilling and the production as a whole, is massive and superb. Tomorrow’s big feature will be Bebe Daniels in “One Wild Week.”

The second clipping is a reminder to me to double-check and triple-check scans before I return material to its source. In this case the very left edge of the scan was cut off which resulted in losing the first letter (or two) of each line. It is one of the items I wish I could get back and rescan.

 

Seven New Acts at the Stratton

Opening today with an all new Keith Program of seven sterling vaudeville acts the Stratton Theatre will present for the last half of the week and attraction for the local theatergoers that will outdo anything ever before attempted. James Valdare in a comedy cycling novelty, who has just toured Europe with Harry Lander’s famous troupe, opens the program with a whirl of daring deeds on a bicycle. Sheehan and Richards then follow in a bright and snappy offering of chatter and song. The Rising Generation, a sensational juvenile attraction which presents nine of the most talented children on the American Stage. Pisano and Bingham in a choice bit of amusement entitled “At the Barber Pole” Mr. Pisano as an Italian, and Mr. Bingham as an Irishman, and the dialogue of the two is productive of much fun. Miss Donna Darling, musical comedy favorite, and winner of the Madison Square Garden beauty contest assisted by Murray Walker and Jack Finney, her dancing boys, presents an unusually interesting  revue entitles “As You Like It.” James Thompson and Company in a screamingly funny ??ckface comedy brimming over with >>n, will add to your amusement. Tom Brown, of the famous Brown Brown Brothers, send the feature act to close the ???. It is Harry Voltaire and company in “Yachting,” described as a musical cruise with oceans of melody. The act embraces five saxophones a….

Key features:

  • The venue is the Stratton Theatre.
  • The date is the 2nd half of the week that includes April 14th (Apr 13-15)
  • The show is “As You Like It” staring Donna Darling and Murray Walker and Jack Finney.
  • Also on bill
    • James (Fat) Thompson & Al Petrie in “The Comoufleures”
    • James Valdare in a bicycle show
    • Piasno & Bingham in “At the Barber Pole”
    • Rising Generation. (A children’s act)
    • Sheehan & Richards
    • Tom Brown, with Harry Voltaire & Arline Lloyd in “Yachting”
    • Photoplay: Poli Negri in “The Last Payment”
  • Coming attractions include:
    • Bebe Daniels in “One Wild Week.”

Analysis

This first article has a banner that has a paper name and date of “wn Daily Times-Press dated Friday, April 14, 19.”  No year and no city. The good news is that Cinema Treasures indicates there were only two theaters with the name “Stratton” and one of them was in Middletown, New York.[i] Next, the clipping mentions that the photoplay showing was Pola Negri in “The Last Payment.” That movie was released in Germany in 1919.[ii] However, a review of newspaper mentions of the movie indicated that it didn’t come to the United States until the fall of 1921 and was playing through the Spring of 1922.  Additionally, in 1922, April 14th was a Friday, proving the show was in 1922.  The second half of the week would have been April 13, 14, & 15.

Conclusion

I added the following:

April 13-15, 1922 – Middletown, New York – Stratton Theatre – Donna Darling “As You Like It,” with Murray Walker and Jack Finney. – DDC-71.

Sources

[i] Internet: Cinema Treasures – Search for theaters named Stratton in the United States. http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/united-states?q=Stratton&status=all accessed 25 July 2020.

[ii] Internet: IMDB – The Last Payment (1919) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0342674/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 – Accessed 25 July 2020.

“Chin Chin” – Colonial Theatre – Pittsfield, MA – 15 May 1920.

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA, on 15 May 1920.

Vaudeville
Chin Chin
Donna Montran

“Chin Chin” played at the Bennington, Vermont, Opera House on May 13th and the Empire Theater in North Adams on the 14th. Then the show moved the 20 miles south to play at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA on Saturday, the 15th.

Advertising for the show began on the 8th of May with an ad showing “Chin Chin” would be coming for “One Night Only” on May 15th. On the 10th, a quick little note said, “’Chin Chin’ at Colonial – Manager Raymond has booked Charles Dillingham’s ‘Chin Chin,’ with Walter Wills and Ray Binder for the Colonial Saturday night.”

The Berkshire Eagle reported Monday, after the show:

The Berkshire Eagle – May 17, 1920

“Chin Chin” with Walter Wills and Roy Binder in the leading roles played to a good-sized audience at the Colonial theatre Saturday evening. It was the second one night stand in two days despite this that there was a large attendance. Like other Dillingham shows it was a wonderful production.

The play is a modern version of the famous old Arabian Nights tale of “Aladdin, or the Wonderful Lamp.” Messrs. Wills and Binder become a couple of Chinamen who have more or less adventures in the pursuit of the lamp which brought its possessor all kinds of happiness. The musical numbers were very sweet and catchy.

Among the many features in this gigantic show are the Teddy Bear dance, Tom Brown’s 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. Tom Brown’s band was one of the big hits of the evening.

Theater

Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield, MA – (Photo courtesy of Granola via Cinema Treasures)

The Colonial Theatre was built in 1903 but burned in 1912. It underwent extensive renovation and reopened with state-of-the-art theatrical technology, in 1912.

The 1921 Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory indicated that the Pittsfield Colonial Theatre was operated by the Goldstein Bros. Amusement Co. and managed by L. H. Raymond. The theater played legitimate theater, stock, and picture attractions.[i] It had a seating capacity of 487 on the main floor, 309 in the balcony, 350 in the gallery, and 72 in the Box seats for a total capacity of 1218.

Specifications for the Colonial Theatre

Proscenium opening: 32 ft
Front to back wall: 45 ft
Between side walls: 58 ft
Apron 5 ft
Between fly girders: 46 ft
To rigging loft: 64 ft
Between fly galleries: 40 ft
The theatre had 8 Dressing rooms

Photo courtesy: Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/masstravel/ (CC BY-ND 2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
Photo courtesy: Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).

The theatre operated until 1934 when it closed due to the Depression. It reopened in 1937 as a movie theater with occasional community performances. It closed in 1952 and became a paint and art supply business. In 1998, the theatre was designated a National Historic Treasure. In 2001, the Colonial Theatre Association began a restoration of the building. In 2006, the theatre reopened to the public with its vaulted gilded enterence, elaborately decorated boxes and balcony, and exquisite ornamental detail.[ii]

Today

The Colonial Theatre of Pittsfield, MA, is a beautifully renovated facility.

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Endnotes

[i] (1921). The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill theatrical guide and moving picture directory. New York, N.Y.: Julius Cahn-Gus Hill via Hathi Trust – https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924063709764&view=1up&seq=7 – Accessed 21 July 2020.

[ii] Internet: Berkshire Theatre Group website, “History of the Colonial Theatre” https://www.berkshiretheatregroup.org/berkshire-theatre-group/history-of-the-colonial-theatre/ – Accessed 21 July 2020.

Donna Darling Collection – Part 66

Rivoli Theatre – Portland, Oregon

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

For this week’s Treasure Chest Tuesday, I’m looking at two clippings from the Donna Darling Collection that relate to the Rivoli Theatre in Portland, Oregon.

From previous research, thanks to Genealogy Bank, I had learned that The Donna Darling Review with Sammy Clark played at the Rivoli Theatre in Portland from November 6th through the 8th. The Playbill is always great to see.

Next was a clipping “Donna Darling Revue Crest of Rivoli Bill,” which appears to be an advertising article. It reads, in part:

“Sammy Clark, the “anesthetic dancer,” with the Donna Darling Revue, is the brightest spot on the Rivoli bill this week. Sammy is one of those untamed spirits who dance for the pure joy of expression. His costume, a cloud of pink unmentionables, is peculiarly fit for his wild spirit.

“Donna Darling herself is a pretty miss with a nice voice for ballads. The rest of the company consists of an excellent pair of dancers and a whistling comedian. It is a clever act, and well staged.”

Conclusion

November 6-8, 1926 – The Donna Darling Revue with Sammy Clark played at the Rivoli Theatre in Portland, Oregon.

UPDATE – “Chin-Chin” – Regina Theatre – Regina, SK – January 15-17, 1920

Donna Montran
Chin-Chin
Vaudeville

Subsequent to my original look at Donna and the Chin Chin cast playing at the Regina Theater, in Regina, SK, Canada, (See original post.) I found a great new article about that show which included a mention of Donna. The review provides one of the best descriptions of the show I’ve seen.

‘CHIN-CHIN’ HAS COMEDY TO BURN AT THE REGINA

Extravaganza of Nonsense, Specialties and Wardrobe
in New York Fantasy Show

Newspaper Clipping - Chin Chin Has Comedy to Burn at the Regina.
The [Regina] Leader Post, January 16, 1920 – Page 16, Column 2 (Via Newspapers.Com)
Have no fear of anything highbrow occurring in “Chin Chin.” It doesn’t. “Chin Chin” is full of burlesquerie, grotesquerie and diablerie. A suggestion of the childhood classic, “Aladdin’s Lamp,” reappearing through all the scenes provides the skeleton for an extravagance of nonsense, specialties and wardrobe. The magic lamp provides the element of plausibility for all the absurdities that happen.

Uproarious Fun

Walter Wills and Roy Binder are the comedians who provide all the uproarious scenes in their manifold characters as Chin Hop Li, Chin Hop Low, Padereweski, Mlle. Falloffski, the ventriloquist, a pair of gendarmes, a duplicate Widow Twanky, a pair of coolies, and a circus ring-master, falling of into the character of a pair of impertinent poll-parrots at any part in the proceedings, giving no notice of motion whatever.

The two hard-working fun-makers have a dozen principals and two dozen chorus-girls to help them keep the audience entertained. This is not counting the trick horse for the circus scene, nor the four animated teddy bears, nor the wonderfully clever saxophone clown sextet.

Astonishing Dance

Walter Mills and Miss Irene Mackay have an astonishingly twinkling and acrobatic dance which quite takes the breath from the audience, though the dancers bob up serenely after madly romping through their business. As a final encore the man comes on with a dummy figure which the house mistakes for the little lady Fan Tay and after a brief breathless dance tosses the supposed human figure over an eight-foot wall into the wings.

Another big scene put on by Wills is his glorified Paderewski. There aren’t any attitudes he fails to strike while playing nor any musical paganisms he doesn’t commit on his little old piano. His mimicry there was rivalled by Binder’s impersonation of the very personable Widow Twanky. Dummies happen where they were not watch for, and then in the ventriloquist act what one thought was a very badly-jointed dummy turns out to be a human. “What’s the use?” was one’s conclusion after trying for a couple of hours to guess what was happening either then or next.

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Starr Dunham is a real story-book sort of Aladdin, pleasing as a picture in his fairy-tale toggery, modest of miem, well equipped as dancer and singer. Miss Ethel Lawrence as Violet, daughter of the United Son of Affluence, has a wealth of charm as to person and costume; and Donna Montram[sic], the goddess of the lamp, delighted with her solos, “Violet” and  “Grey Dove;” while Carrie Dale played the winsome Widow Twankey to queen’s taste. “Good-bye, Girls, I’m Through,” “Chinese Honeymoon,” “Chipper China Chaps,” “Love Moon,” “Bally Mooney,” and the clown’s band’s music will all be remembered with no falling of the spirit.

The settings are all quite lavish, but the red-gold and orange-brown tea-shop for the New Year’s celebration, with the chorus in harmonizing tones, was charming in the extreme.—I. M.

Donna in the News – 21 June 1923

Donna Darling & Her Boys at the Globe Theatre, Kansas City, MO on June 21, 1924.

I recently discovered articles that ran in the Kansas City Times from June 16th through June 21st.  Donna “topped” the program at the Globe theater in Kansas City

The Kansas City Times, Kansas City, Missouri, June 21, 1923 – Page 5 – Via newspapers.Com.

On stage with Donna and Her Boys (Murray Earle & Tod Watson)  were:

  • Keith and Parker
  • Mons Herbert
  • Robb and Whitman in “Sweethearts,”
  • Great Abdiz

Plus the Jane Novak,  photoplay “The Snowshoe Trail”