The African American Theatre Directory, 1816-1960: A Comprehensive Guide to Early Black Theatre Organizations, Companies, Theatres, and Performing Groups

By Bernard L. Peterson Jr. | Go to book overview

Q-R

QUALITY AMUSEMENT CORPORATION/COMPANY (QAC)// preceded by the ELITE AMUSEMENT CORPORATION/COMPANY, based at the LA FAYETTE TH., Harlem, NYC. Theatrical syndicate, active 1915/c. 1923, first under the proprietorship of * Lester A. Walton ( 1915-16), then of Robert Levy ( 1916-19), who sold it to * E. C. Brown and * A. F. Stevens ( 1919-21), who in turn rehired Lester Walton as general manager during the period of their control. This corporation, first known as the Elite Amusement Corp., then as the Quality Amusement Corp., was in control of the Lafayette Th., the LAFAYETTE PLAYERS, and eventually a circuit of black theatres in the East and Midwest, known as the Quality Amusement [Co.] Circuit. By 1919, the QAC had established three additional companies of Lafayette Players located in other cities in the East and Midwest, as well as a comic opera company, a grand opera company, a musical comedy company, and a vaudeville company. These companies all toured the QAC Circuit of eight theatres, which included the DUNBAR TH. in Philadelphia, PA; the HOWARD TH. in Washington, DC; the AVENUE TH. in Chicago, IL; the Pershing Th. in Pittsburgh, PA; the DOUGLASS TH. in Baltimore, MD; the Putnam Th. in Brooklyn, NY; the LINCOLN TH. in Norfolk, VA; and the Lafayette Th. in NYC.

The QAC apparently began its operations in 1915 with the presentation of Darkydom, a musical revue prod. by Walton, with book by Henry Troy, lyrics by Walton and Henry Creamer, and music cocomposed and coconducted by Will Marion Cook and James Reese Europe. This show toured the theatres that eventually became the QAC chain prior to its premiere at the Lafayette Th., beginning Oct. 23, 1915, where it had a successful run. Loften Mitchell ( BlkDr, p. 68) reported that "the premiere was attended by many whites in coaches" and "looked like a Broadway opening." Featured members of the Lafayette

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