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Gypsy Robes

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Joann M. Hunter, Richard E. Korthaze, and Roxane R. Barlow model the robes...Photos by Carol Rosegg

The Rules


Gypsy Robesm pages:

Who Are Gypsies
History of the Robe
Rules of the Ritual
Robes & Recipients
Gypsy Stories

The Gypsy Robesm

The ritual of the Gypsy Robesm takes place on the stage of every Broadway musical on opening night, before the audience is admitted. It began in 1950 when Bill Bradley, in the chorus of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, persuaded Florence Baum, a chorus member, to let him have her dressing gown. As a lark, he sent it to a friend, Arthur Partington, in the chorus of CALL ME MADAM, on opening night, telling him it had been worn by all the Ziegfeld beauties. Arthur added a rose from Ethel Merman's gown and sent it to a chorus member on the next opening night of GUYS AND DOLLS. It was then passed from show to show in a haphazard way and was often presented to a friend of the previous recipient, or awarded to a chorus member based on popularity. Through the years the passing of the Robe became a specific ceremony with official rules stating how it is presented, worn and paraded on stage.

When Robes are completely covered with artifacts, souvenirs and sketches, they are retired and a new one started. Three retired Robes are at the Lincoln Center Library of the Performing Arts; there are also Robes at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington , DC, and at the Museum of the City of New York, all others are with Actors' Equity.

David Westphal, Staff for the Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs at Actors' Equity Association oversees the ceremonies, and Gloria Rosenthal is the Gypsy Robesm historian. Former AEA Staff member, Terry Marone also attends and participates in the ceremonies.

The Gypsy Robesm blesses every Broadway musical! Please keep the tradition and stick to the rules.

1. The Gypsy Robesm goes only to Broadway musicals with a chorus.

2. Robe goes to a chorus member only, with most number of Broadway Chorus credits.

3. It must be delivered by 1/2 hour on Opening Night to member selected.

4. New recipient must put on Robe and circle the stage 3 times, while cast members reach out and touch Robe for good luck; new recipient visits each dressing room while wearing the Robe.

5. New recipient supervises addition of application from show to Robe. Important rules for adding mementos: For wearability, durability and longevity, add-ons must be lightweight, sturdy and reasonably sized so each Robe can represent a full season.

6. Opening night date and recipients name is written on or near memento and cast members only sign that section of Robe.

7. Recipient will attend next Broadway musical opening and will present the Robe to the next "Gypsy" in that show.

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