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    Posted November 6, 2009

Lisa Gajda receives the Gypsy Robe

Lisa Gajda (Gypsy Robe Winner - Finian's Rainbow)
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

Lisa Gajda, currently performing in the critically acclaimed FINIANíS RAINBOW, is the newest recipient of Equity's famous "Gypsy Robe." The colorful icon was presented to the chorus member at a special ceremony at the St. James Theatre in NYC on Thursday, October 29, 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 who were making their Broadway debut to take a bow for the cameras: nine cast members hopped to the center of the circle, while their fellow cast members cheered with glee.

Mr. Westphal then introduced Terry Marone, who invited prior robe recipients to come center stage, including Devin Richards (also currently in FINIAN'S RAINBOW) Austin Colyer, Roger Preston Smith, Pi Douglass, and the most recent recipient John Jellison.

After explaining the robe's history, Mr. Jellison, the robe recipient from MEMPHIS, presented the garment to Lisa, who circled the stage three times accordingly as everyone in the cast touched the robe to bring "blessings" to the new musical.

The Gypsy Robe began in 1950, when Bill Bradley, in the chorus of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, borrowed a dressing gown and sent it to a friend in CALL ME MADAM on opening night (Oct 12, 1950) saying it was worn by all the Ziegfield 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 done 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.

Lisa previously received the Robe for TABOO, THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN', and CRY BABY.

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. This Robe 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. The Gypsy Robe will celebrate it's 59th birthday this October. 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.

Lisa Gajda (Gypsy Robe Winner - Finian's Rainbow & John Jellison (Gypsy Robe Winner-MEMPHIS) with David Westphal (Actors' Equity)
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

These Actors made their Broadway Debut at the Opening Night Performance of FINIAN'S RAINBOW on October 29, 2009
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

Lisa Gajda fellow cast members Cheyenne Jackson & Kate Baldwin
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

Lisa takes the traditional journey around the circle three times
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

More Gypsy Robe info...

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