(Children’s) Theater — The Gillette Dog and Monkey Circus
For the first month of operation, the Theater was called the Children’s Theater, and it housed Edward Gillette’s Dog and Monkey Circus. It featured such acts as monkeys riding on the backs of dogs, as if they were horses, and a Monkey Bowling Act, in which two chimpanzees “bowled” monkeys at bowling pins. Sadly, I don’t have pictures of either Gillette or his monkeys.
You can see the theater on the right in the photo above, next to the Fatal Wedding. The circular building to the left is Love’s Journey.
After the first month, the act in the Theater was changed to the musical revue The South Before the War. This featured singing and dancing performances in an idealized Southern United States. You can see a banner for the show in the close-up below from another postcard
The South Before the War stayed at the theater the rest of the summer of 1906.
Willard’s Temple of Music
For 1907 it was replaced by Willard’s Temple of Music. Charles D. Willard and his wife Ettie (“Kittie”) were consummate musicians on ordinary instruments, but they branched out into exotic instruments that made an impressive display in whatever theater they performed in.
A later Temple of Music from Coney Island
An earlier Temple of Music setup (above)
The Harmonium from the Temple of Music
Some of the other instruments in their collection were:
The Musical Gods of China
Musical Alarm Clocks
Musical Flower Pots
Turkish Mellow Pipes
Musical Coffee Mills
Musical Remington Typewriters
But arguably their most interesting was the Electrical Musical Sawmill, operated by ladies in “steampunk” garb, which emitted not only musical tones but also electrical sparks
Paradise — The Show Beautiful
For the 1908 season the Theater housed Paradise — The Show Beautiful, the creation of Charles A. Washburn. Women walking through Wonderland Park would hand out these provocatively-worded tickets to prospective patrons:
The front of the theater had a stage giving patrons a glimpse of the show:
That’s probably Washburn himself off to the right. The women appear to be seated as for a tea party, but advertisements for performers and those later “selling” the show suggest that it was a combination Beauty Pageant and Talent Show
The show also featured “The Royal Marionettes”. There were several acts of that name, so it’s not clear which they employed. All of them featured very detailed and lifelike constructions.
Alas for George Washburn, no one else appeared to want his Paradise show after its 1908 appearance at Wonderland.
The Princess and the Prophet
In 1909 the attractions were scaled back as the Park dealt with bankruptcy. Rather than a fancy act, they used the theater to put on a playlet called The Princess and the Prophet, which recounted the story of Salome and John the Baptist. No pictures survive, but the spectacle of Salome’s dance and the beheading of John would have provided extrevagant spectacle.
The Garden Scene from Faust
It’s not clear which attraction appeared in the Theater for 1910, the Park’s last year, but it may have been The Garden Scene from Faust, advertised as “Faust without the Frills” Again, no images survive.