BUTTE — At the Clark Chateau, a new camp dedicated to Butte’s theater past is beginning lessons.
"We came up with this concept of spotlighting one of Butte’s Historic ways and that’s vaudeville," said Frankee Angel, the instructor for the camp.
Many celebrities involved in vaudeville and the arts are intertwined in Butte’s history.
Celebrities like Kathlyn Williams, Dashiell Hammett, and Martha Hayle were born and grew up in Butte.
A notable vaudevillian actor was Will Dalton, known on stage as Julian Eltinge, one of vaudeville’s highest-paid female impersonators.
His father worked as a miner and he moved the family to Butte from Boston for work. In his early teen years, Eltinge began dressing in women’s clothing and performed in saloons patronized by ranchers and miners. When Eltinge’s father discovered what his son was doing, he beat Eltinge and sent him back to Boston.
By 1910, Eltinge had reached the height of his fame. Sime Silverman, Editor of Variety, called him "as great a performer as there is today".
The camp at the Clark Chateau will hold weekly meetings focusing on a particular skill or concept in vaudeville.
"We’re going to keep journals, they have to design their own bits and skits and perform them for one another. First as individuals and then as little groups and they’re gonna be given some of the history and background and some training so that they have a nice tool kit with them when they go," said Angel.
Students can still enroll in the program into the second and third weeks. Classes take place every week, each class being 90 minutes to 2 hours. Tuition is $70 per student. Scholarships are available.