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    Posted May 6, 2010

AEA's GYPSY ROBE BLESSES PROMISES, PROMISES

Matt Wall Receives Colorful Chorus Icon

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What do you get when you fall in love? A Gypsy Robe! Matt Wall was the lucky recipient of AEA's fabled garment, which was presented on the opening night of PROMISES, PROMISES at the Broadway Theatre on Sunday, April 25, 2010 recreating a 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 Brian O'Brien, Eileen Casey, Austin Colyer, Nikki Renee Daniels, Bill Nolte, Megan Sikora and Andrew Call, who just received the robe in AMERICAN IDIOT.

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

Matt Wall has been in the Broadway choruses of SOUTH PACIFIC, CURTAINS, DROWSY CHAPERONE, 110 IN THE SHADE, DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, FOLLIES and SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER.

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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