Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Ritual Of The Gypsy Robe


The Gypsy Robe is a ritual robe used for the opening of a Broadway Musical.

Broadway musical chorus members are referred to as gypsies to signify their continuous travel from job to job in show after show. The chorus member with the most Broadway credits wears the robe and circles the stage three times moving counterclockwise. Other cast members look on and touch the robe for luck.

The ritual dates to 1950, when Bill Bradley, a chorus member in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, sent a dressing gown from one of his fellow performers to a friend performing in Call Me Madam. A feathered rose from Ethel Merman's costume was attached to the robe and it was then given to a chorus member in Guys and Dolls. The robe continued to be passed from one show to another, each time with a memento added on.

The ritual is now more formal, with rules about how it is presented, worn, and displayed. When robes are full of artifacts, a new robe is started. Retired robes are kept at the Lincoln Center library, at the Smithsonian, and at Actors' Equity.

In 2005, Brynn Williams from the Broadway cast of In My Life became the youngest recipient of The Gypsy Robe at age 12.

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