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    Posted April 22, 2010

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES Gypsy Robe Goes To Dale Hensley

Dale Hensley said he was "thrilled and ecstatic" to receive the robe
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

To borrow the lyrics from "The Best of Times" - the joy was contagious, the entourage outrageous, it was hot and hectic, effervescent and eclectic at LA CAGE AUX FOLLES when, on Sunday, April 18, 2010, the cast made its way to the stage for the traditional Gypsy Robe Ceremony just prior to the musical's official opening later that evening.

The drapes on the large windows in the mezzanine of the newly restored Longacre Theater were open and the early evening sun shone through. The house was empty, save for a few ushers and staff, while the company -cast and crew - of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES gathered onstage. The Cagelles - tall, graceful and in various stages of makeup and wigs - were there (Nick Adams, Nicholas Cunningham, Sean Patrick Doyle, Logan Keslar, Terry Lavell, Todd Lattimore, Christophe Cabllero). Yurel Echezarreta, a Cagelle who is out of the show until June with an injury, was also among the cast. Kelsey Grammar, Douglas Hodge, Fred Applegate, Robin De Jesus, Chris Hoch, A.J. Shively and Veanne Cox stood whispering with Christine Andreas, Cheryl Stern, Heather Lindell, David Nathan Perlow, Caitlin Mundth, and Dale Hensley. It was, as the lyrics said, contagious joy as Jim Borstelmann, who received the robe a few days earlier for THE ADDAMS FAMILY, announced Dale Hensely ( who has the 2004 revival of LA CAGE among his Broadway chorus credits, along with THE DROWSEY CHAPERONE, SUNSET BOULEVARD, GUYS & DOLLS, and ANYTHING GOES) as the newest robe recipient.

LA CAGE cast members Elena Shaddow, who received the robe for THE WOMAN IN WHITE and Bill Nolte (JAYNE EYRE and JOSEPEH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT) were among the former robe recipients who were on hand to celebrate the long standing tradition of the GYPSY ROBE. Joining them were Tommar Wilson (HAIR), John Cashman ( SMITH), Roger Preston Smith (PETER PAN), Eileen Casey (MARILYN), Adrian Baily (THE LITTLE MERMAID, JELLY'S LAST JAM, LEGS DIAMOND and PRINCE OF CENTRAL PARK) Merwyn Foard, who received it for the 2004 revival of LA CAGE and ASSASSINS. Foard and Bailey (another 2004 LA CAGE cast member) were among the first to congratulate Hensley. Also on hand for the ceremony was Carol Waaser, Third Vice President Ira Mont, National Chorus Business Rep David Westphal, Gypsy Robe volunteer Terry Marrone and robe historian Gloria Rosenthal.

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.

Adrian Bailey, Merwyn Foard, Dale Hensley
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

Kelsey Grammer, Dale, Douglas Hodges
Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

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

More Gypsy Robe info...

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