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    Posted May 20, 2010

Betsy Wolfe Garners AEA's Gypsy Robe in EVERDAY RAPTURE

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Betsy Wolfe is the final Gypsy Robe recipient for the 2009-2010 Broadway season. The iconic garment was presented to Betsy onstage at the Roundabout's American Airlines Theatre on April 29, 2010, recreating a 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 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 Jim Borstelmann, Eileen Casey, Austin Colyer, Eamon Foley, Richard E. Korthaze, Martial Roumain, and Matt Wall, who just received the robe in PROMISES, PROMISES.

Also observing the ceremony were: Acting AEA President Paige Price, 3rd V.P. Ira Mont, Acting Executive Director Carol Waaser, Business Rep Frank Stancati and Executive Assistant Joe Chiplock.

Matt recited the robe's history and then announced the newest recipient: Betsy Wolfe. The stage burst into applause as she put on the robe and raced around the stage three times while everyone reached out and touched the garment to receive its blessing.

Betsy was previously in the Broadway chorus of110 IN THE SHADE.

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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