, Gloucester, MA

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February 15, 2013

Valentine surprises

Local playwright brings Valentine cheer

Playwright Henry Allen, now also known as the “Cape Ann Croonah,” was in full stride with his “singing telegram service” on Thursday in celebration of Valentine’s Day.

Dressed in red sneakers, a purple cardigan over a red shirt, and a red and black scarf with a dashing cap — all while carrying carnations and an occasional heart-shaped box of chocolates — all he needed was a set of angel wings to complete the look of an urbane Cupid.

First thing in the morning, he serenaded a West Parish Elementary School third-grade teacher, Eileen Egan, in front of her students, who were dressed in red and pink. Her daughter steered Allen to the school. He sang, “When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.” He said the students were “really into it.”

Next stop was at Virgilio’s in downtown Gloucester. Nancy Virgilio wanted Allen to sing “Sea of Love,” the song at her wedding to Joe Virgilio. The couple, hugged, danced and laughed together behind the counter as Allen sang, then he gave Joe Virgilio a red carnation. Virgilio promptly got a bottle of water to put the flower in.

After some iced coffee and a voice rest, Allen then popped into Cape Ann Olive Oil Co., also on Main Street, where Eric Negron wanted Allen to sing “Come rain or come shine,” to his wife and co-owner Lauren Negron. A large box of chocolates accompanied the song and a red carnation. Eric was hiding out in another room.

Allen was taken around town by his friend, Susan Harrington of Manchester; the two also went to Marblehead so he could sing at a private home.

“I have loved seeing the expressions of surprise, blushes, and even tears of joy during my singing telegram adventure today,” he said later, adding that the idea started on Facebook.

“I think I made a joke about it on Facebook, and people fervently encouraged me to do it,” Allen said. “I came up with a flyer, and calls started pouring in.”

You can contact Allen at 978-704-1269, or visit

Allegra Boverman is the chief photographer and a staff writer for the Gloucester Daily Times. She can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3448 and at

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