The ANVIL REVUE was a satirical production presented annually by the CITY CLUB OF CLEVELAND, in which members and others poked fun at politics, institutions, and people in the news. Begun in 1913 as Stunt Nite at the City Club's first annual meeting, the production soon came under the direction of CARL FREIBOLIN, a bankruptcy court referee.
The half-hour performances for club members soon expanded to a full evening's entertainment, and the show moved from the club's quarters in Weber's Restaurant on Superior Ave. to the Duchess Theater, 5708 Euclid Ave., and then to the Prospect Theater. After 1924 CLEVELAND PRESS columnist and sporting-goods proprietor Joe Newman wrote lyrics to accompany Freibolin's skits and became a partner in the annual production. As the show expanded, so did the targets of its humor. Under the theme song "It's the Bull People Want," the Anvil Revue ribbed media people, lawyers, and other local figures. In the 1930s it took on national political figures and issues.
The boldness of the satire attracted attention from out-of-town critics, who labeled Freibolin, "Cleveland's Aristophanes." Although women were admitted first to a separate performance and then to the main event, the acting was a male prerogative until 1966. Newman retired from the show in 1958, and Freibolin in 1965. Because of declining attendance, the live revues were replaced after 1976 by a radio version, which, on rare occasions, is still staged.
Updated by Christopher Roy
Last updated: 10/6/2023
City Club of Cleveland Records, WRHS.
Carl Freibolin Papers, WRHS.