Kempton Komedy Kompany
From the Colon Express newspaper, March 29, 1967, by Ralph Clement: “THE KEMPTON KOMEDY KOMPANY – The beautiful new Hill’s Opera House was opened in 1897-98 and not many seasons later the Kempton Komedy Kompany was there with its road show. The Kempton’s liked the town with its fine lakes and, especially they liked the new opera house. After the season closed they came back to Colon and made arrangements to put some 10-20-30 shows on during the summer. With the help of local talent, practice commenced on some of the old time “melodramas”!
The first show opened with a full house – 500 seats. The show was a big hit. During the entire summer season, a new play was put on every two weeks. Some of the Colon boys formed an orchestra, which furnished music. John Hawk played first violin, Oscar Hartman, the bass viol. I do not recall the others, but they played pretty good music. Every performance drew a full house.
By the end of the summer the Kemptons had made up their minds to call Colon their home. During the winters they went on the road, playing throughout the Midwest. Then they came back to Colon to play “summer stock”. This continued for some years and they acquired a large show tent and, during the summer, the troop played one-week stands throughout the Midwest. One year they got out into Utah. The crops were very good that year and shows in that territory were few and far between. People came from long distances and a full house was had every performance.
They went on to Omaha, Nebraska, where they secured a lot on the edge of the city and set up the tent, preparing for a one-week stand. All was in readiness for the first show the following night. The Kemptons went into Omaha to shop. When they arrived back at the lot in the later afternoon it was a sight to behold! During the afternoon a cyclone had struck the tent. Everything was almost completely lost. The tent, the scenery, chairs, baggage, personal belongings, were either gone or strewn over a wide area.
Mrs. Kempton and her daughter took a train for Colon. Mr. Kempton picked up what little he could find, and then he returned. They were all discouraged.
The following season they joined the famous “Slout Family Shows” and continued with them for several years.”