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    Posted April 1, 2008

Everything's Coming Up Robes:
Steve Konopelski Wins Coveted Gypsy Robe in GYPSY Opening Night Tradition Honors Chorus

Michael Balderrama (In The Heights) and Steve Konopelski
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

Curtain up, light the lights! Carrying on a tradition that began more than 50 years ago, Equity's coveted Gypsy Robe was presented to GYPSY Chorus member Steve Konopelski in an exuberant onstage ceremony at the St. James Theatre on West 44th on March 27, 2008, the show's opening night on Broadway.

Lavishly decorated with appliqués from other Broadway musicals, the Gypsy Robe is given to the chorus member with the most Broadway chorus credits. Mr. Konopelski has previously appeared in HOT FEET and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

The Gypsy Robe ceremony began as the cast and crew gathered onstage just 90 minutes before curtain and formed a large circle. Equity's National Chorus Business Representative David Westphal welcomed everyone and invited company members who were making their Broadway debut to take a bow for the cameras. He also acknowledged special guests AEA 2nd Vice President Jean-Paul Richard (Chair, ACCA); Executive Director John P. Connolly; Robe Historian Gloria Rosenthal and Robe volunteer Terry Marone as the excitement continued to build.

Marone invited past robe recipients to step into the center of the circle, including Jack Dabdoub, Eileen Casey, Pi Douglass, Harvey Evans, Richard Korthaze, Roger Preston Smith, Jennifer Smith, Amber Stone, and Bonnie Walker. She then introduced Michael Balderrama, who garnered the robe for IN THE HEIGHTS.

Wearing the robe, Michael recited the robe's illustrious history (click for more info) and described how the winner must circle the stage three times counter-clockwise and visit each dressing room so the show receives the robe's blessing.

Then (drum roll), Michael announced the winner: Steve Konopelski! The company cheered as he donned the robe and ran around the stage - taking an extra lap to make sure everyone touched it!

"It's not often that members of the ensemble receive recognition for their Broadway contribution; the gypsy robe to me is just that," said Steve after the ceremony. "To be recognized by the Broadway community and the company of Gypsy is such a tremendous honor. Visiting each dressing room, bringing blessings and luck to the show brought a huge smile to my face. I am grateful to be among such a talented group of "gypsies." Receiving this robe from my good friend Michael and winning it for GYPSY made this event even more special to me."

The blessing worked! The robe and the show got rave reviews. Next stop for the Gypsy Robe is SOUTH PACIFIC.

Laura Benanti, Steve Konopelski, Boyd Gaines, Arthur Laurents, Patti LuPone
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

Cast members reach out and touch the robe as Steve circles the stage
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

L-R: AEA Executive Director John P. Connolly, Mary Lou Westerfield (AEA National Director, Policy), Steve Konopeoski, AEA 2nd VP Jean-Paul Richard
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

More Gypsy Robe info...

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