hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

November 1, 2012

A journey back in time

Local entertainers bring 1940s-style night club to life

By Bruce Amaro Correspondent
The Haverhill Gazette

---- — It was a sentimental journey back to the 1940s, when The Paul Prue Review put on “The Eddie Stellerman Show’’ to celebrate a time when a grown-up America stepped onto the world stage.

The show opened to a full house at Archie’s Little River Ale House in Lafayette Square. Every table in the room was full. The dinning room sat 100 people at the Oct. 20 event.

The story went like this: Harry Truman had just taken over in the White House, American servicemen were coming home from World War II in droves, and Eddie Stellerman stepped up to the microphone at Eddie’s, his club in New York.

That is the way Haverhill musician and local artist Paul Prue wrote his dinner theater musical to celebrate the music and style of the 1940s.

“They were glamorous. The way they dressed, the music they played set them apart from anything before and since,” Prue said about what he wanted to capture with his one-hour show.

Characters from the show — men in spats and women carrying long cigarette holders — slid through the room in their long evening gowns, bringing the performance right into the audience.

Diners heard local musicians and singers Elle Gallo, Rick Campbell, Michael Cesati, April Anamisis, Hoban Sanford, John Schiavoni and Peter Chase all introduced by Prue, who played Eddie Stellerman, doing the honors at the mic.

One star of the show was the cigarette girl portrayed by 15-year-old Emma Campbell. Campbell, dressed to look like the girls who used to walk among the tables in the clubs in the 1940s and ‘50s, selling “smokes,” walked the floor with her shoulder-strapped tray of cigars, cigarettes and her tip glass.

She cruised the room, selling candy cigarettes to chocolate lovers who told curious onlookers they wouldn’t give anyone “a drag.’’

“Buy your own butts,’’ they said.

Drummer Bob Machetti and guitarist Rick Campbell anchored the small stage for most of the acts, which opened with April Anamisis doing her Marlene Dietrich gig, singing to the crowd.

Prue, as Stellerman, introduced Mike Cesati a well-known saxophonist with a reputation as one of the best jazz players in the area. Cesati did a solo routine and later accompanied Gallo in her “Summer Time’’ stunner that brought down the house.

In the late 1940s, many popular male singers had voices that made them matinee idles and John Schiavoni, the lead vocalist for the Coupe Deville brought that sound back with his solo vocals that were like a mix of a young Mel Torme and a contemporary Luciano Pavarotti.

For a little over an hour, Eddie Stellerman’s place fulfilled his dream to run a club where music powered the mood for the diners who came to watch and listen to some of the best music around. Edie’s came from a time when the country had just stepped on to the world stage. There was hope, some fun, and confidence that everyone had s future, no matter what they did.

Archie’s plans to bring Prue back again on Dec. 15 for a Christmas show.