Freitag, 24. Dezember 2021

Rosita and Ramón - Chapter 3: On the Vaudeville circuit (1925)

by José Manuel Araque

Señorita Carmela and José Reachi hit the road on January 1st, and brought their act to venues across the East and South with the revue The Land of Joy. Papa Hanrick tells in his memoirs that “35 people left from New York in 2 cars”. Mama Hanrick traveled with them “to check on the costumes”.

 
It was customary for New York-based Vaudevillians to travel to small theaters far from New York to try their wares on Keith's or other circuits, and to polish their acts before bringing them back to Broadway. Sometimes it was just a road show that ran across many of Keith's venues across the East, and some independent theaters too, as was the case with The Land of Joy.
 
 
When Benjamin Franklin Keith died in 1914, his right-hand man Edward Franklin Albee took the reins of a business increasingly under assault from new forms of entertainment enabled by too many technological breakthroughs. Since the beginning of the century Vaude was time-sharing the theaters with the Movies, and the economics were not on its side. In 1916 Albee established the National Vaudeville Association (NVA), and membership and good standing were required to perform in the organization's theaters. Soon even the rules about decorum, and Albee's iron grip on show business were questioned, the days of King Vaude were numbered.
 

Wellsboro, PA, is a small town in the Adirondacks, 240 miles west of New York, that was a trade center and shipping point for the region
 
 
The Land of Joy was compared to the Ziegfeld Follies in ads, it was a variety show with as many as 30 acts ("Joys"), including comedy, singing and dance (a "Revuesical Travelogue"). It was produced by Anton F. Scibilia, and included several Spanish-inspired themes. The troupe consisted of as many as 30 performers, but over time the cast was fluid. The Land of Joy opened at the Bache Auditorium on Friday, January 2, 1925. 
 

The next day the troupe made a back-breaking trip through the back-country of Pennsylvania, to appear at the Fulton Opera House in Lancaster, PA. The Fulton is a landmark, the oldest continuously operating theater in the United States. The show got mixed reviews, but the dancing was definitely a plus. Señorita Carmela was still doing the Tango with Vincent Martínez.

The next week, on Wednesday January 7, they were at the Chestnut Street Opera House in Sunbury, PA. Then on January 9 and 10, they were in Harrisburg at the Orpheum, and on Tuesday January 13 they were at the Academy in Lebanon, PA.


The tour continued with shows at

Jan 14-15

The Playhouse, Wilmington, DE 

🏠

Jan 19

The Opera House, Frederick, MD

🏠

Jan 22

The Masonic Theater, Hinton, WV

🏠

Jan 24

Huntington Theater, Huntington, WV

🏠

Jan 28

Colonial Theater, Bluefield, WV

🏠


At the Huntington Theater, the program shows significant changes. Vincent Martínez was out, he had commitments in Miami and soon took off. In his place José Reachi was dancing the "Tango Caprice” with Señorita Carmela. Reachi and Carmela also danced “The Moonlight Waltz”, and others. Compared to the program the previous September in Altoona, this show was less Spanish-centric. Carmela was also doing two solo numbers.
 


Papa Hanrick was keeping tabs on their movements. Mr. Scibilia wrote at the end of January to inform him of new developments, he had an advance man connecting with theaters, landing contracts on the fly ahead of the troupe's presentations. In his letter Scibilia says the troupe would visit Waco, but they never went that far. 



In early February they were in Virginia, the reviews were mixed. Critics thought the whole thing lacked cohesion, and they complained the dancing was too "muscular", not enough foot work. But José was getting kudos for his dancing.
 

Feb 4

New Theater, Staunton, VA

🏠

Feb 8

Liberty Theater at Ft. Monroe, VA

🏠

Feb 10-11

Academy of Music, Richmond, VA

🏠

 
When the troupe appeared in Richmond at the Academy, the critics also noted the dancing by Señorita Carmela and José Reachi.




Feb 12

Majestic Theater, Danville, VA

🏠

Feb 14

State Theater, Raleigh, NC 

🏠

Feb 24

City Auditorium, Charlotte, NC

🏠

Feb 25

Textile Hall, Greenville, NC 

🏠

Feb 26

Auditorium, Ashville, NC  

🏠

Feb 27

Lyric Theater, Knoxville, TN 

🏠

Feb 28

Elks Auditorium, Tuscaloosa, AL

🏠

Mar 2

Bijou Theater, Chattanooga, TN

🏠

Mar 5

Elks’ Theater, Huntsville, AL 

🏠



Some of their marketing tactics were questionable.


By the end of February it was clear that the breakout artists from the troupe were the Tango dancers, but Southern critics were concerned with the amount of skin on display.


In Tuscaloosa they were booed by one side of the house.
 

But the dates kept coming. In Alabama they hit

Mar 13

The Academy, Selma    

🏠

Mar 16

Greensboro Opera House, Greenville  

🏠

Mar 17

The Grand, Montgomery   

🏠

Mar 18

The Academy, Selma    

🏠

Mar 21

Jefferson Theater, Birmingham 

🏠



Then they started to make the return trip North. On April 1 they were at the Town Theater in Columbia, SC.


On April 8, The Waco News Tribune reported that Babe Hanrick would travel with Mama Hanrick from Norfolk, VA, to New York, an overnight trip on a steamship.


The Land of Joy troupe did one more show at the Liberty Theater in Fort Monroe, VA on April 12.
 

Babe Hanrick married José Reachi at the Holy Trinity Church, on West 82nd Street in the Upper West Side in New York on April 22, 1925. Babe was 17 years old, and Ramón was 22. It was front-page news in the hometown paper.


They went promptly back to work to Pennsylvania, for the last leg of the Land of Joy revue.

May 2

Earle Theater, Philadelphia 

🏠

May 11

Colonial Theater, Bethlehem 

🏠

May 15-21

The Hippodrome, Pottsville 

🏠



Scibilia plotted an afterlife for the revue, but after Pottsvile it was done really.
 
 
It was time to move on to new projects. As noted on the news, the Reachis were using their Spanish nicknames very effectively. On July 27, and for three nights, they joined the Walter Rosemont’s revue at the Colonial Theater in Allentown, PA, and for the first time they appear as “Rosita and Ramón”. Mama Hanrick returned to Waco around this time.
 
They were not named in the ads, but the reviewer did not forget their new names, they "took the house by storm”.


Babe probably got her new nickname after Mary Pickford’s famous silent film of 1923.


Paul Dupont composed a Tango for that movie that was very popular.


Summer was slow season in the Vaudeville circuit (the theaters did not have air conditioning). In 1923 Walter Rosemont had also produced A Night in Spain, with Vincent Martínez as the lead dancer, he was also capitalizing on the new interest in Tango in the US. Within a week of the show’s opening in Allentown the revue had a new name, “Rosemont Troubadours: An Evening in The Patio”. It opened on August 7 at the Palace Theater (Poli) in Bridgeport, CT.

 
An Evening at The Patio was a much smaller revue than The Land of Joy, the troupe was less than 10 performers. From August 10 though August 12 they came to New York, and appeared at Keith’s Orpheum in Brooklyn (Fulton and Rockwell). On August 22 they were at Proctor's Theater in Harlem (125th Street at Park Av.).
 
Then they traveled to Upstate New York where they appeared at

Sep 12-14

Majestic Theater, Elmira, NY 

🏠

Sep 16-18

Binghamton Theater, Binghamton, NY   

🏠

Sep 20-23

Nixon Theater, Philadelphia, PA

🏠

Oct 1-3

State Theater, Scranton, PA

🏠

Oct 4-6

Earle Theater, Philadelphia, PA

🏠

Oct 11

William Penn Theater, Lancaster, PA

🏠

Oct 14

Towers Theater, Camden, NJ 

🏠

Oct 19-20

Grand Theater, Philadelphia, PA  

🏠

Oct 25

The Hippodrome, Baltimore, MD

🏠

Oct 31

Edgmont Theater, Chester, PA

🏠


María Fayad must have seen her son and her new daughter-in-law at the State Theater in Scranton, where the revue played for 3 days. They were on the rise, by the end of the month they were appearing on the ads.
 
Ramón and Rosita and the Rosemont Troubadours finished their tour of the Northeast with shows at

Nov 4-6

Broadway Theater, Philadelphia, PA

🏠

Nov 9-10

Feeley Theater, Hazelton, PA 

🏠

Nov 12-14

Strand Theater, Shenandoah, PA 

🏠

Nov 18-21

Sheridan Square, Pittsburgh, PA 

🏠

Dec 2

Capitol Theater, New Castle, PA 

🏠

Dec 6-7

Crosskeys Theater, Philadelphia, PA

🏠

Dec 14-16

Majestic Theater, Harrisburg, PA

🏠

Dec 17-19

Mischler Theater, Altoona, PA

🏠

Dec 21-23

York Opera House, York, PA 

🏠

Dec 24

Colonial Theater, Lancaster, PA

🏠



On December 15 they appeared without the Troubadours at the Century Roof in Baltimore, MD. Then they danced with the Troubadours in a handful of shows in Pennsylvania. They used “Rosita and Ramón” or “Ramón and Rosita” indistinctively.



The Reachis decided to split from the Troubadours, and went back home to New York for Christmas. They were looking for work. They danced at more than 60 venues in 1925, it was exhausting really, but they had names now.



 
Rosita and Ramón's Excellent Vaudeville Adventure





Notes

1. Antonino Fortunio Scibilia had a long career in Vaude and beyond, as a producer and writer. In 1925 his Flashes of the Gay White Way and World of Pleasure revues were popular, and then he worked with legends Texas Guinan and Mae West.
 
2. Any information about additional R&R dates, venues or programs from the Land of Joy or other revues, is appreciated, we’ll add it to the map. We could find no further information on some venues like the New Theater in Staunton, VA.




Bibliography

1. Cinema Treasures is a treasure
   http://cinematreasures.org

2. The University of Arizona has a website full of Vaude stories
    https://vaudeville.sites.arizona.edu/node/29