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    Posted June 24, 2011

Behold and Wonder: Luther Creek Garners Gypsy Robe for SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK

SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK Gypsy Robe Recipient Luther Creek
Photo: Walter McBride

Behold and Wonder: Luther Creek is the first recipient of the Gypsy Robe for the 2011-2012 Broadway season for SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK. The colorful icon was presented to Luther backstage at the Foxwoods Theatre on Tuesday, June 14, 2011, recreating an historical tradition that is 61 years old.

Equity's National Chorus Business Representative David Westphal welcomed everyone to the ceremony and invited company members to form a circle. The company's excitement was palpable as things got under way.

Owing to the huge technical aspects of the show, the cast gathered in an enormous rehearsal room directly above the stage. First, cast members who were making their Broadway debuts came forward and took a bow. Then, Terry Marone called out previous robe recipients including Adrian Bailey, Jim Borstelmann, Grady Bowman, Eileen Casey, Pi Douglass, Richie Mastascusa, Roger Preston Smith, and Amber Stone. Westphal also introduced AEA President Nick Wyman, 2nd VP Rebecca Kim Jordan, 3rd VP Ira Mont, AEA Executive Director Mary McColl, and robe historian Gloria Rosenthal.

Shannon Lewis Recipient for PEOPLE IN THE PICTURE
Photo: Walter McBride

Next, Shannon Lewis, who received the robe for THE PEOPLE IN THE PICTURE, stepped forward to read the robe's history and explain the ceremony. She then announced that Luther Creek was the newest recipient and the entire company erupted in cheers and applause as he donned the robe and circled the rehearsal hall three times to let everyone touch the robe to receive its blessing. Opening night was finally here!

Luther has appeared in the chorus of three previous Broadway shows, including: RENT, FOOTLOOSE and JESUS CHRIST, SUPER STAR.

The Gypsy Robe began on October 12, 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, 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 the next Broadway musical on opening night. The tradition evolved so that the robe is now presented to the "gypsy" who has performed in 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.

Recipient Shannon Lewis for 'The People In The Picture', Luther Creek & David Westphal
Photo: Walter McBride

Recognizing their cultural and historic value, Gypsy Robes can now be seen at Equity's Offices around the country. National Headquarters in New York now houses two of the historic Robes. The second floor Audition Center's case displays the 1982-1983 robe. The 2007-2008 Robe, dedicated to Broadway veteran Adrian Bailey, can be viewed on the fourteenth floor Council lobby. In Orlando, the robe from the 2003-2004 season can be viewed during business hours. In October, a Gypsy Robe went on display at Equity's new Chicago office at 557 West Randolph Street. It covers Broadway musicals between May 2005 and May 2006.

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.

Cast Members Jennifer Damiano, Christopher W. Tierney, Ari Loeb and Luther Creek
Photo: Walter McBride

Cast members making their Broadway Debuts
Photo: Walter McBride

Collin Basja, Jennifer Damiano, Christopher W. Tierney & Luther Creek
Photo: Walter McBride

Michael Mulheren, Patrick Page, Luther Creek, Jennifer Damiano & Reeve Carney
Photo: Walter McBride

Click here for more Gypsy Robe information...

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