Smart Set Company

The Smart Set Company was an African American touring revue company fronted by Sherman H. Dudley who took over for Tom McIntosh.[1] Dudley signed a five year contract in 1904 and was considered the show's "chief fun maker.[2]" Reviews of a performance in Indiana in 1902 refer to singing, dancing and "clever acrobatic work" calling it "the smartest colored comedy in all of America." [3] Their performances, which were not entirely minstrel shows, were often commentaries on race in America "a composite study of the stage from a racial viewpoint" covering "every phase of stagedom."[3]:685

Ad for the Smart Set Theater Company led by S. H. Dudley

In 1909, the group split into a Northern and Southern Smart Set Company with the latter being managed by Salem Tutt Whitney.[4][3] Dudley retired from working with The Smart Set in 1912 and worked on building his chain of theaters. After 1917 Dudley devoted himself to producing black musicals, including updated Smart Set productions.

The name was used later to refer to other collections of actors and performers who worked on the circuit performing comedies and musicals for a theater season, a point which Dudley was somewhat churlish about.[1][3]:1279 Notable companies were Shark's Smart Set Company, Tolliver's Smart Set Company and Gus Hill's Smart Set Company.[5]



  1. ^ a b Monsho, Kharen. "Dudley, Sherman H." Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 5 April 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Knight, Athelia (1987). "He Paved the Way for T. O. B. A.". The Black Perspective in Music. JSTOR. 15 (2): 153. doi:10.2307/1214675. ISSN 0090-7790.
  3. ^ a b c d Sampson, Henry T. (Oct 30, 2013). Blacks in Blackface: A Sourcebook on Early Black Musical Shows. Scarecrow Press. p. 673. ISBN 0810883511. Retrieved 25 January 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Cullen, Frank; Hackman, Florence (2007). Vaudeville old & new: an encyclopedia of variety performances in America. Psychology Press. p. 1136. ISBN 0415938538. Retrieved 25 January 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Events". Morton Theatre. 1910-05-18. Retrieved 2019-01-25.

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