One of Us: Anthony Barrasso

  • While on stage with the Crooners, Anthony Barrasso draws inspiration from classic songsters like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, and Elvis Presley.

HOW DID YOU COME TO RUN YOUR RESTAURANT AND DINNER THEATER HERE IN THE OLD PORT?


When we lived down in Boston, I had a place with my mom. Then she passed away, and we moved up here. I opened up this place 23 years ago. These are all her recipes! I like to brag that they are a hundred years old. She was from Naples, Italy, and all this food is still made from scratch, everything’s homemade.

 

HOW DID YOU LEARN YOUR MOTHER’S RECIPES?


Just by constantly watching her. She was passing away, and I went to see her. She said to me, “Anthony, what would you like of mine?” I said, “Ma, I don’t want anything of yours. I have your love, I have your brains,
I have your looks, I have your personality, and I have your singing voice. I have enough of you, but I would like your recipe box.” And that’s what I have. It’s full of all these handwritten recipes.

 

WHEN DID YOU BECOME A PERFORMER?


Well, about 12 years ago my son was going to try out for Camelot at South Portland’s Lyric Music Theater. He said, “Dad, why don’t you try out with me? You like to sing.” And I said, “Oh my goodness, what would I do?” Well, I did try out, and I made it! I’m a hambone anyway, and I just gave it a shot. So I tried out for another, and then several more, but in all of these I’m with my son.

 

IT’S ABOUT FAMILY.

We’ve been very, very lucky. We have a great family and have had a lot of great holidays together. The only problem is about seven years ago my wife died. It was heartbreaking, because she was not only the best mom you could find, but also my best friend. So other than that we’ve been doing marvelous. We all live in Maine, except one renegade. He moved out to Michigan and married a Michiganian and he has a son out there, who’s not in theater.

 

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR WIFE.

She was the cutest little thing. I was this big buffoon of an Italian and everything I did was silly, stupid things. And she’d laugh. She had the greatest sense of humor. And that was just what life was about for me.

 

WHAT KIND OF MUSIC THEATER DO YOU PERFORM?


We have a group here called the Crooners. We’re four members of the Italian Heritage Center. I’m the oldest, in my 70s, Vinny is a year younger than me, Paul is a lot younger than me, and Cal is about Paul’s age. Cal wears blue contacts when he’s performing. How’s that for channeling Sinatra? Picture a table on that stage with a couple of bottles of Jack Daniel’s and glasses with the fake ice cubes in them. We come out here like the Rat Pack!

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