In 1906, at the age of 15, Miss Wava Elizabeth Cummings appeared in a solo act at the Bijou theater in Decatur, Illinois. So popular were her illustrated songs that her six-week contract was renewed for an additional six weeks. While the Decatur Review newspaper reported on October 14, 1906 that "...Wava Cummings has been awarded a scholarship in the vocal department of the Chicago Conservatory of Music under Dr. William Wade Hinshaw. She may take advantage of the offer in the spring.", it is not known if she accepted it. In August 1908, Wava was a member of the Moneta Five along with her mother and sister and played at the Bijou theater in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Wava performed with the Moneta Five thru at least 1914. She again appeared solo in a song and piano act in Middletown, New York, in December 1915; Waterbury, Connecticut, in January 1916; and Columbia, South Carolina, in November 1916.

      The following articles appeared in the Decatur Review newspaper, Decatur, Illinois, in September and October 1906, and provide an early glimpse of Wava Cummings' stage success.


First Week’s Bill Under Two Shows a Day Plan.

Will Sing the Illustrated Songs This Season at the Bijou.

   The Bijou theater, newly remodeled, will be given its formal opening for the winter season tomorrow, beginning with the usual matinee. In selecting his bill for the opening week Manager Sigfried has exercised care in choosing an appropriate one. The numbers follow:

   The four Otura Japs
   The Bell Boys Trio
   The great Raymond Teal
   The Langdons
   Fannie Frankel
   Wava Cummings
   Moving pictures

   The two shows a day plan gives the Bijou management an opportunity to present not only a longer bill to the patrons, but it likewise permits higher class acts, ones that could not be secured for a house playing three shows a day.
   The Otura Japs are finished equilibrists. The three children run in ages seven, nine and ten years.
   The Bell Boys Trio are making their first trip out of New York City and Decatur will be their second stop on their way to the coast.
   Raymond Teal is a black face comedian and monologuist. He is a former minstrel man and is the author of many popular songs.
   The Langdons do a comedy juggling act, hand balancing, singing and dancing.
   Frannie Frankel is a singing soubrette.
   Wava Cummings has been engaged for the season to give the illustrated songs. She was last season with the Gally theater at Springfield and this summer has been at the White City. For the first time in Decatur will be given, with illustrations, the popular song, “Not Because Your Hair Is Curly.” Another illustrated song will be “Dreaming Love of you.”
   The moving pictures will start with “The Terrible Kids,” showing scenes and sights in the city of Chicago. Another will be Edison’s latest, “The Life of a Cowboy.”
   For ladies’ souvenir matinee next Thursday a cut glass jelly dish will be given away and for children’s matinee on Saturday the present will be a pretty book slate.

- Decatur Review, page 20, September 2, 1906

Scraps of News


   The standing room only sign was out again at the Bijou last night and the crush to see the show was equal to that of the opening night. Perhaps of all the bill the most popular feature is the singing of Wava Cummings, who has already taken so well that her appearance is the signal for prolonged applause. Miss Cummings has an engagement at the Bijou for but six weeks, but from present indications Manager Sigfried must hold her for the entire season if he does not want to be mobbed by his patrons.

- Decatur Review, page 12, September 5, 1906


Two Decatur Amateurs to Appear Regularly This Week.

   Bill for the week
   Francesca Redding & Co
   Yaegel and Freund
   Pero and Wilson
   Will Sheridan
   Martini and Maximillian
   Wava Cummings

   The opening week at the Bijou theater was fully up to the expectation of the management, and even better. With the exception of one or two performances every seat in the house was taken twice a day.
   Grace Yaegel and Leo Freund, who made a hit at the amateur performances last season, will be on the regular program this week.
   Miss Wava Cummings will sing "I’m Dreaming Love of You" and "Only a Soldier’s Dream" this week.


   A new thing in moving pictures will be a feature of the Bijoudrome this week. This will be hand colored effects, and will mark the first appearance of its kind in Decatur. “Tit for Tat” is the title of this feature picture. Others will be “The Love Letter,” “The Rival Brothers,” and “The Invincible Men.”
   At the Thursday souvenir matinee the women will receive handsome shirtwaist sets and at the children’s matinee on Saturday each little girl will receive a pearl chain and the boys a giant pencil box filled.

- Decatur Review, page 24, September 9, 1906


Only Professional Acts on Bijou Program This Week.

   This week’s bill at the Bijou will consist entirely of professional numbers. There will be five big acts in addition to Miss Cummings and the Bijoudrome. The bill this week comprises:

   Tony Ryder’s Monkey Circus.
   Russell and Held.
   Holland and Vernon.
   Leonard and Louis.
   Dixie Harris.
   Wava Cummings

   The big feature act of this bill is the monkey circus. One of these animals is half chimpanzee and half orangoutan, which does many difficult feats. All of Ryder’s animals are clever and as a single act this will prove the biggest of its kind ever seen in Decatur.
   Russell and Held confine their act exclusively to singing and dancing. Holland and Vernon present a laughable skit entitled, “Checkers.” Leonard and Louis are known in vaudeville as the European Gymnasts. They do many clever and difficult feats.
   Dixie Harris is a soubrette prodigy. She is a clever little performer.
   With pretty illustrations Miss Cummings will present “You’re as Welcome as the Flowers in May,” and “Down at the Baby Store.”
   The feature film on the Bijoudrome will prove one of the chief attractions of the bill. The title of the picture is “The Lone Highwayman,” and it is in nine scenes. The comedy will be “Choosing the Servant Girl” and “The Tomboys.”
   At the souvenir matinee next Thursday afternoon each woman will receive a Japanese pin tray, and at the children’s matinee on Saturday every child will receive a watch.

- Decatur Review, page 21, September 23, 1906


Bijou Broke All Previous Records—Vaudeville Popular in Decatur.

   For the week just closed the Bijou has broken all records in point of attendance. Including matinee and night performances an approximate estimate of the crowds places the figure in round numbers at 6,000. Even this is a low figure, considering the fact that at every night performance the house was crowded to its full seating capacity and, with but a single exception, standing room was at a premium and people were turned away.
   This, in view of the fact that it was fair week at Springfield, bespeaks the popularity of vaudeville as well as the class of the attractions offered. The reserve seat plan has already proved successful and the management is arranging to have more seats put in.
   Another exceptionally strong bill will appear this week, as follows:

   McIntyre and Bennett.
   Powers and Freed.
   Mahoney Brothers.
   Raimund and Good.
   The Daltos.
   Wava Cummings


   McIntyre, of McIntyre and Bennett, is a son of James McIntyre of the well known team of McIntyre and Heath of “Ham Tree” fame. The son is almost an exact counterpart of his parent and, with Bennett, will make a big hit this week. They present a blackface skit entitled “When Do I Eat?”
   Powers and Freed play on almost every known instrument.
   Mahoney Brothers do a singing and dancing act.
   Raimund and Good made a big hit last week in the Main Street theater in Peoria, with their sketch, “Mr. Butt In.” During their act they introduce songs, double eccentric dancing, Swiss yodeling and rich German comedy.
   The Daltos present a barrel jumping act, with many clever feats in tumbling and hand balancing.
   Miss Wava Cummings will sing “Little Boy Called Taps” and “Would You Care?”
   The feature film on the Bijoudrome will be “Bryan’s Trip to the Old Country.” The comedy film will be “The Pals.”
   At the souvenir matinee Thursday each woman will be presented with a handsome imitation cut glass creamer and on the following Thursday bowls to match will be given away. On Saturday every child will receive a picture tablet.

- Decatur Review, page 20, October 7, 1906


Is Week’s Attraction at Bijou—Miss Cummings Gets Scholarship.

   The bill for the week at the Bijou will be as follows:

   Myles McCarthy & Co.
   DeVere and DeVere.
   Reno and Azora.
   Blossom Robertson.
   Bud Farnum.
   Wava Cummings

   The feature act on the bill will be the Myles McCarthy company. McCarthy has started in several musical comedies, but like many others, he has taken to vaudeville. The title of his sketch at present is “The Race Tout Fiend,” and in this he plays the part of the Bowery boy.

        DO IRISH TURN.
   DeVere and DeVere do a comedy Irish singing and dancing act. The feature of their act is the beautiful costumes worn by Miss DeVere during her stage appearance.
   Reno and Azora will appear in the first contortion act of the season. They are billed as “The Lady and the Clown,” and Reno himself is known as the “Iron Leg Wonder.”
   Blossom Robertson is a soubrette and coon shouter.
   Bud Farnum will appear in a comedy musical act.
   Miss Wava Cummings will sing, with illustrations, “In After Years When I Am Old” and “In a Hammock Built for Two.”
   The feature film on the Bijoudrome will be “The Office Boy at the Ball Game.” The other films will be likewise strong.
   At the souvenir matinee on Thursday the women will be presented with creamers to match the sugar bowls given away last week.

   It is announced that Miss Wava Cummings has been awarded a scholarship in the vocal department of the Chicago Conservatory of Music under Dr. William Wade Hinshaw. She may take advantage of the offer in the spring. She has signed another six weeks’ contract with the Bijou, her first contract having expired Saturday.

- Decatur Review, page 20, October 14, 1906