Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” played the La Crosse Theatre in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Wisconsin, on 10 February 1920
Thanks to my “Donna in the News” alert last January, I learned then that Donna, and the cast of “Chin Chin,” played the La Crosse Theater in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on February 10, 1920. Now, I’ve finally had a chance to further look at that theater and show. Besides those original articles from the 4th, 5th, and 8th, I was able to find additional articles from the 3rd, 6th, 9th, 10th, and 11th.
“Chin Chin” Schedule –
Feb 1-7, 1920 – Minneapolis, MN – Metropolitan Opera House
Feb 8-9, 1920 – Unknown (possible break?)
Feb 10, 1920 – La Crosse, WI – La Crosse Theatre
Feb 11, 1920 – Chippewa Falls, WI – Rex Theatre
Feb 12, 1920 – Eau Claire, WI – Grand Theatre
For a one-night show, the advertising for “Chin Chin” was spectacular. Every day there was something in the newspaper from eight days before the show until the day after the show. Promotion for the show began with a notice on February 3rd, that an Eau Claire boy was one of the show leads. Along with it was a standard “To the General Public” notice from the theater’s manager, F. L. Koppelberger.[i]
Eau Claire Boy in “Chin Chin”
Include ad The music of Ivan Caryll, which serves to illustrate the story of “Chin Chin,” which comes to the La Crosse theater on February 10th, and in which Walter Wills and Roy Binder, an Eau Claire boy, demonstrate their wonderful powers of drollery and skill in dancing. Ethyl Lawrence, as “Violet Bond” the American girls, is a charming little actress, and always succeeds in winning the good graces of the audience. Her rendition of the duet, “Love Moon,” with the aid of George Usher as “Aladdin,” is one of the particular bright spots of the show.
The following day, a photo of the “Pekin Girls” graced the paper[ii] along with a short article and the same announcement from the manager as on the day before.
The remaining advertisements are pretty standard.
Rarely is there a review for a show that has played and moved on to another city. However, the La Cross Tribune ran a modest review the day after the show. Although they didn’t mention Donna, they did mention that “those singing the leading parts last night had pleasing voices and encores were numerous.”[iii]
The La Crosse Theatre opened in 1900,[iv] but its history goes back to the 1860s when there was an opera house at the location. The Sanborn Fire Maps indicate it was an Opera House in 1891, but it appears to have had a very different footprint than the theater had in the 1920s. The early 1900s form for the theater was short lived. The theater was closed in 1927 and a new building, the Hoeschler Building was opened in 1930.
The James Cahn Theater Guide 1922 supplement indicated that the La Crosse theater had a seating capacity of 1,100 all on the ground floor. The stage was 68 feet wide, 36 feet deep, and 32 feet high.
[i] The La Crosse Tribune · Tue, Feb 3, 1920 · Page 4 – Via Newspapers.com.[ii] The La Crosse Tribune · Wed, Feb 4, 1920 · Page 10 – Via Newspapers.com
[iii] The La Crosse Tribune · Wed, Feb 11, 1920 · Page 5
[iv] Cinema Treasures, La Crosse Theatre, La Crosse, WIS http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/57410