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    Posted October 17, 2009

BYE BYE BIRDIE Gypsy Robe Goes To Paula Leggett Chase

Paula Leggett Chase, Robe Recipient for Bye Bye Birdie
photo by John Quilty

It was "Hello, Gypsy Robe!" when the cast of BYE BYE BIRDIE gathered on the stage of the Roundabout's Henry Miller Theater for an opening night tradition that honors a member of the chorus who has the most Broadway chorus credits. On Thursday, October 15, 2009, Paula Leggett Chase became the first chorus member of the 2009-2010 Broadway Season to receive the coveted Gypsy Robe!

Led by stars John Stamos, Gina Gershon and Bill Irwin, the cast and crew of BIRDIE traded opening night jitters for the excitement of learning who in the chorus would receive the coveted Gypsy Robe and to participate in the ceremony that is an important part of every Broadway musical's opening.

Entering the large circle of expectant faces, Paul Castree of last season's 9 TO 5 modeled the robe while Business Rep David Westphal gave a brief history of the long-standing tradition that has its roots in a simple gesture more than 50 years ago. At that time, Bill Bradley, a member of the chorus of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, sent a dressing gown to a friend and chorus member of the musical CALL ME MADAM on that show's opening night. For Castree, who had won the robe last season, passing the robe to Leggett Chase was especially touching. Castree had earned his Equity card in the chorus of a stock production of BYE BYE BIRDIE and had later gone on to play the role of Harvey Johnson in a national tour.

For Leggett Chase, whose Broadway credits include THE PAJAMA GAME; CURTAINS; DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS; KISS ME, KATE; and A CHORUS LINE, to name a few, the Robe is an exciting acknowledgement of the dedication and professionalism that is the embodiment of the Chorus.

Among those gathered to witness the ceremony and to kick off the first show of the season - as well as the first Broadway revival of BYE BYE BIRDIE and the inaugural production of the newly renovated Henry Miller Theater - were former Robe Recipients Brynn Williams (who is also a member of the cast), Eamon Foley, Roger Preston Smith, Bill Nable, Pi Douglass, Harvey Evans and Ritchie Mastascusa. As an added surprise, two former "Harvey Johnsons" - Castree and Harvey Evans - were on hand to celebrate BYE BYE BIRDIE and the Gypsy Robe. Also in attendance were Equity's Second Vice President Rebecca Kim Jordan, Third Vice President Ira Mont and Executive Director John P. Connolly.

From L to R: Nolan Gerard Funk, Dee Hoty, Allie Trimm, Bill Irwin, Gina Gershon, Paula Leggett Chase, John Stamos
photo by John Quilty

Paul Castree (Robe Recipient, 9 to 5) with current Robe recipient Paula Leggett Chase
photo by John Quilty

Fellow cast members pose with Paula Leggett Chase at the Gypsy Robe Ceremony on Opening Night
photo by John Quilty

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