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    Posted January 5, 2010

Send In The …Gypsy Robe

Adesola (FELA) passes the robe to Stephen
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

Bravo! Stephen Buntrock, currently performing in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, is the newest recipient of Equity's fabled "Gypsy Robe." The colorful icon was presented to the chorus member at a special ceremony at the Walter Kerr Theatre on Sunday, December 13, 2009, recreating an historic, theatrical ritual that began on Broadway almost 60 years ago.

Equity's National Chorus Business Representative David Westphal welcomed everyone on stage and invited company members to form a large circle to begin the ceremony. Then, cast members who were making their Broadway debuts were acknowledged at the center of the stage, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alexander Hanson, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Ramona Mallory, Keaton Whittaker, and Kevin Vortmann. Enjoying the proceedings was none other than the legendary Angela Lansbury, who co-stars in the production. Also observing the ceremony were AEA VPs Rebecca Kim Jordan and Ira Mont, joined by Acting Executive Director Carol Waaser.

Mr. Westphal then introduced Gypsy Robe volunteer Terry Marone, who invited prior robe recipients to come center stage, including Adrian Bailey, Eileen Casey, John Cashman, Harvey Evans, Lauren Lattaro and Michael X. Martin. She then introduced Adesola Osakalumi, who received the robe in FELA!, to explain the robe's history and announce the newest recipient.

Brimming with excitement, Adesola quickly proclaimed that Stephen Buntrock was the newest recipient of the iconic garment. Stephen has performed on a Chorus Contract in several Broadway shows, including: OKLAHOMA, JANE EYRE, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and LES MISERABLES.

Buntrock donned the robe and circled the stage, as company members reached out to touch the robe to complete the ceremony. A few minutes later, in accordance with the robe tradition, he visited everyone's dressing room and A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC was blessed.

The Gypsy Robe began in 1950, when Bill Bradley, in the chorus of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, borrowed a dressing gown from Chorus member Florence Baum and sent it to a friend in CALL ME MADAM on opening night (Oct 12, 1950) saying it was worn by all the Ziegfeld beauties and would "bless" the show. A cabbage rose from Ethel Merman's gown was added and the robe was passed along to next Broadway musical on opening night. The tradition evolved so that the robe is now presented to the "gypsy" who has performed the most Broadway musicals on a chorus contract. Along the way, the robe is decorated, painted, patched, stitched, and signed by everyone in the show, becoming a fanciful patchwork for an entire Broadway season.

Recognizing their cultural and historic value, Gypsy Robes can now be viewed at two of Equity's Offices. The National Headquarters in New York now houses two of the historic Robes. The second floor Audition Center's newly designed case displays the Robe from the 2006-2007 season, which was dedicated by the ACCA to the memory of Patrick Quinn. The 2007-2008 Robe, dedicated to Broadway veteran Adrian Bailey, can be viewed on the fourteenth floor Council lobby.

The Robe from the 2003-2004 season is now housed in the Orlando office and members can stop by to view the Robe during business hours. In the coming year, the Los Angeles and new Chicago office will have their own Gypsy Robes for display. Periodically, the Robes will be rotated so members may have the chance to see various Robes. Robes are also on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, The Museum of the City of New York and the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts.

PSM/AEA VP Ira Mont, Stephen Buntrock, AEA VP Rebecca Kim Jordan
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

Ramona Mallory, Stephen Buntrock, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

Stephen Sondheim, Angela Lansbury
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

Cast member making their Broadway debuts
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

More Gypsy Robe info...

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