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    Posted April 15, 2010

Jim Borstelmann Garners Gypsy Robe in THE ADDAMS FAMILY

Jim Borstelmann circling the stage...

Creepers! Jim Borstelmann, currently performing in THE ADDAMS FAMILY, is the newest recipient of Equity's fabled "Gypsy Robe." The colorful icon was presented to the chorus member at a special opening night ceremony at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Thursday, April 8, 2010, recreating an historic, theatrical ritual that began on Broadway 60 years ago.

Equity's 2nd Vice President Rebecca Kim Jordan 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. Observing the ceremony was Acting AEA President Paige Price, Third VP Ira Mont, and Acting Executive Director Carol Waaser.

Ms. Jordan then introduced Gypsy Robe volunteer Terry Marone, who invited prior robe recipients to come center stage, including Pi Douglass, Austin Colyer, Roger Preston Smith, Eileen Casey, Merwyn Foard, Andre Ward, Megan Sikora, Krysta Rodriguez, Lorin Latarro, David Eggers, Eric Sciotto, Ritchie Mastascusa and Tommar Wilson.

Ms. Marone then introduced Kristine Bendul (who received the robe in COME FLY AWAY) to explain the robe's history and announce the newest recipient: Jim Borstelmann! Jim has several Broadway shows to his credit, including: CHICAGO, THE PRODUCERS, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and JEROME ROBBIN'S BROADWAY.

Bursting with excitement, Jim donned the robe and circled the stage, as company members reached out to touch the robe to receive its "blessing." A few minutes later, in accordance with the robe tradition, he visited everyone's dressing room and THE ADDAMS FAMILY.

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.

Photos and a list of robe recipients may be viewed on Actors' Equity's website.

Jim Borstelmann
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

Choreographer Sergio Trujillo and Jim Borstelmann
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

Borstelmann gets a congratulatory hug from Bebe Neuwirth
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

Nathan Lane and Jim Borstelmann
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

More Gypsy Robe info...

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