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    Posted April 26, 2010



Cast Member John Gallagher Jr., Choreographer Steven Hoggett, Gypsy Robe recipient Andrew Call, Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong, and Director Michael Mayer
click to enlarge

It was a rockin' opening night! Andrew Call received Actors' Equity's fabled Gypsy Robe on the opening night of AMERICAN IDIOT at the St. James Theatre on Tuesday, April 20, 2010, recreating an historic, theatrical ritual that began on Broadway 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.

Mr. Westphal then introduced Gypsy Robe volunteer Terry Marone, who invited prior robe recipients to come center stage, including Pi Douglass, Eileen Casey, Curtis Holbrook, Jim Borstelmann, Lorin Latarro, Timothy Smith, and Dale Hensley, who received the robe in LA CAGE AUX FOLLES.

Wearing the robe, Dale recited the robe's history and then (drumroll) proclaimed the newest recipient: Andrew Call! The stage rocked with applause and shouts as Andrew put on the robe and raced around the stage three times while everyone reached out and touched the garment to receive its blessing.

Andrew Call has been in the Broadway choruses of HIGH FIDELITY and CRY-BABY.

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.

More Gypsy Robe info...

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