Posts Tagged ‘Smart Set Company’

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January 20, 2013

music sheet cover for Ford T. Dabney’s rag intermezzo, ‘Porto Rico’,
published by Shapiro, New York, 1910,
and featured by Aida Overton Walker (1880-1914),
American actress, singer and dancer,
with S.H. Dudley’s Smart Set Company
(photo: Apeda or White, New York, circa 1910)

Aida Overton Walker and Company at the American Music Hall, New York, July 1909.
Aida Overton Walker, the colored woman singer and dancer, made her first New York reappearance in a new act at the American Music Hall last week. She is now doing what she called a “Dance Afrique – the Kara Kara.” Miss Walker danced with exuberance and light-footedness, with a sort of savage Orientalism that was both interesting and entertaining. Special music was played with the dance, and eight girls added to the effect in no small way. The costuming was appropriate, and the semi darknened stage with woodland scene helped out. The close in one was appreciated, and the dancers were called out for many bows. “That Teasing Rag” was the only popular song number used.’
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 24 July 1909, p.20)

National Theatre, Chicago, January 1910
‘Cole and Johnson in the Red Moon will begin a week’s engagement at the National next week. All of the principals hve unusually good voices and the large chorus is not only exceedingly attractive but well trained and comprised of trained voices. Aida Overton Walker, the famous colored comedienne, is an added feature with two new songs and a weird symbolic dance set to out of the ordinary music by Johnson. The Red Moon is a whirlwind of melody, everything moves with snap and vim and the song numbers rapidly introduced with unique costuming and novel effects. The scenic setting of the three acts is elaborate and the show from first to last is brilliant.’
(Suburbanite Economist, Chicago, Friday, 14 January 1910, p.8b)

The Smart Set company in His Honor the Barber with S.H. Dudley and Aida Overton Walker at The Bastable Theatre, Syracuse, New York, November 1910
‘Musical Comedy of Color.
‘Negro talent in stage entertainment is fully made use of in the piece called His Honor the Barber, which is being offered at the Bastable. The minstrel stage has long exhibited with Negro style of comedy, though very few men of African descent have been minstrels. S.H. Dudley, who is the chief comedian of His Honor the Barber, shows that burnt cork comedy can be cone quite as well when the burnt cork grows on as when it is put on. He and the other principals, Aida Overton Walker in singing and dancing interludes, Andrew Tribble in the part of a very deeply colored lady with the razzer, and various representatives of high life among the colored folk of Washington, D.C., are able to carry out a play which has more plot and coherence than some of its sort, and to put into it a rollicking, rough and ready humor that thoroughly delighted last night’s audience.
‘For example, the conversation of Raspberry Snow with Babe Johnson his affinity [sic], both before and after he has secured possession of her razor and revolver, is one of the high points of comedy in the piece. Better work of its sort is seldom seen in music [sic] comedy of any color. And while in costuming and the fine art of stage management His Honor the Barber show defects, it is easily seen that the natural buoyancy and feeling for rhythm of Booker Washington’s race and their effectiveness in certain possible schemes of costuming might easily be adapted to make a musical dancing pie with plenty of chorus work in it remarkably successful.
‘The singing of the Smart Set Company is also above the average of musical comedy choruses.
‘But the main point of the play is the fun of it. Mr. Dudley deserves compliments for his success in this direction.’
(The Post-Standard, Syracuse, New York, Tuesday, 15 November 1910, p.4d)

The Smart Set company in His Honor the Barber with S.H. Dudley and Aida Overton Walker at The Powers Theatre, Decatur, Matinee and night, Saturday, 25 February 1911
‘Remarkable Dancer
‘When Aida Overton Walker is mentioned as one of the Smart Set company of colored people who are to be seen here Saturday afternoon and night in a musical show, the greatest kind of a card is drawn. Aida Overton Walker is a famous dancer, and she deserves all the attention she has attracted to herself in the last few years. She is artistic and she has the instinct for doing the fine thing gracefully. Also she can sing.
‘S.H. Dudley, a droll negro comedian, really heads the company and the piece they are to present is called His Honor the Barber. It is a new musical comedy in three acts. There are plenty of bright and clever musical numbers, and a chorus of twenty five, together with some of the best colored funmakers in the business.’
(The Daily Review, Decatur, Illinois, Sunday, 19 February 1911, p.20a)

Oakland Orpheum, May, 1912
‘Featuring Aida Overton Walker, one-time star with the famous Williams and Walker combination, a ten-person act is one of the many good things the Oakland Orpheum has to offer all week. There are ten in the company, eight dusky maidens, a natty fellow with a panama and a voice, and Aida Overton Walker. Miss Walker has her own idea of the component parts of comedy and claims sunshine is the chiefest of them. She is, therefore, a personage of smiles throughout the act and spreads a certain raidiance over chorus and settings.
‘Four singing numbers are on the Walker bill: Porto Rico, Miss Walker and girls; Lovey Dear, Miss Walker, Creighton Thompson and girls; Bless Your Ever Loving Heart, Creighton Thompson and girls; That’s Why They Call Me Shine, Miss Walker and company.
‘It is in that last that the comedienne gives her impersonation of the late. Her act is a well-filled measure of musical things.’
(Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California, Monday, 20 May 1912, p.16c)

For several photographs of Aida Overton Walker by Apeda and White of New York, about 1910/1911, see The New York Library for the Performing Arts.