[STUART] WALKER COMPANY. The [Stuart] Walker Company ( Cincinnati, Ohio), legally incorporated as the Cincinnati Stuart Walker Company in 1929, had its origins in the Portmanteau Theatre, a New York-based touring company formed by Stuart Walker in 1915. Walker also organized a summer resident company in Indianapolis in 1917 while maintaining up to three road companies. After five summers in Indianapolis, the company moved its center of operations to Cincinnati. Opening with Honors Are Even on April 24, 1922, with a new lighting system at the proscenium-equipped Cox Theatre, Walker initiated a resident company which would enjoy an eleven-season existence.
From its first season the Stuart Walker Company prided itself in breaking the stereotypic stock-company mold. Walker insisted on an ensemble spirit, and performers alternated playing major roles and walk-on parts; few, if any, outside actors were required, even for very large casts. A 1922 program note claimed, "The company is recognized throughout the English-speaking theatre as a model of its kind." Unlike O. D. Woodward's National Players, a Shubert-financed company which offered five consecutive winter seasons in Cincinnati beginning in 1925, Walker did not limit his repertory to recent Broadway hits or farces with strong audience potential. A typical Walker season took chances, either including a world premiere or testing a play prior to a New York or Chicago production. Many performers such as Blanche Yurka, Tom Powers, and Elizabeth Patterson graduated to Broadway or Hollywood but frequently returned to the Walker fold as guest artists.
Walker was already established in the American theatre as a producer, director, author, and occasional actor prior to 1922. His Portmanteau Theatre--a sophisticated portable stage and household circuit lighting system--toured New England and midwestern states from 1915 to 1917, often presenting Walker's original works and adaptations and plays by Lord Dunsany. The Dunsany productions greatly impressed critics, and Walker began regular Broadway runs,