Attractions at James Hall
All the details that producers and booking agents needed to know about James Hall were promoted in national theatrical directories. Aware of the requirements to put on their show and earn a profit, producers could see from a distance what Danville had to offer in terms of audience size, promotion, transportation, accommodations, and potential box office receipts. Physical details about staff and the venue informed promoters if James Hall was a good fit for their show.
A. G. Field’s Minstrels
The minstrels’ show of Al G. Field played James Hall. Newspaper reports described a typical performance of the show Al G. Field’s Minstrels produced.
“The entertainment was novel in many of its features and…one of the best minstrels shows yet…the curtain on its first upward roll disclosed a scene upon a Mississippi levee, with the embarkation, upon the steamer ‘R.E. Lee,’ of passengers and deckhands and the introduction of choruses and dancing. The second scene introduced the interior of the steamboat cabin, where was given a delightful concert, interspersed with some new jokes and clog dancing. Then followed a laughable skit on modern magic, in which Field was assisted in a ludicrous manner by Billy Van; a dancing tournament by eight clog dancers; Roman battle-ax swinging by Cradoc, Billy Van in his monologue entertainment, and the Morrisey brothers in their songs and dances…There were other features fully as attractive.”
James Arthur Coburn’s Minstrels
The minstrels show of James Arthur Coburn also performed at James Hall.‘
Public Figures & Lecturers at James Hall
The appearances of public figures and lecturers from the speaker circuits were a popular and inexpensive attraction.
Danville Son – Harry Frankel, aka Singin’ Sam
Harry Frankel was the son of Solomon “Sol” Frankel of The Hub-Frankel Department Store in Danville. Following his employment as a minstrel in Al B. Field’a Minstrels show, Frankel fashioned a vaudevillian career for himself singing Negro music.
Refreshment Time with Singin’ Sam
Following his appearance in Field’s minstrels’ show, Frankel became a crooner. When endorsed by Barbasol shaving lotion, Frankel became known as Singin’ Sam, the Barbasol Man. Later, his Refreshment Time radio appearances as Singin’ Sam from 1937 to 1942 were sponsored by Coca-Cola.
Singin’s Sam song tracks: 0:38-There’s Yes, Yes, In Your Eyes; 2:44-Indian Summer; 5:47-Minstrell Song-Somebody’s Done Me Wrong; 9:13-I Love a Little Cotton.
Stout’s Movie Theater at James Hall
On March 10, 1917, Moving Picture magazine announced yet another remodel of the Danville Opera House. John B. Stout had been using the opera house as a movie theater since 1908. In the present remodel, the existing ground level entrance would be retained but would be dedicated to colored use only. White people now entered through Stout’s drug store with the prospect of increasing Stout’s mercantile business at the same time. Separate toilet rooms, restrooms, and lobby were provided. Topping Stout’s improvement list would be “the best type of projection machine the owner can find.” For safety, additional theater exits were installed.