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    Posted April 9, 2012

AEA’s GYPSY ROBE® BLESSES EVITA

Matt Wall Garners Colorful Chorus Icon on Opening Night on Broadway


Jennie Ford, Matt Wall
Photo: Walter McBride

Stand Back, Buenos Aires! Matt Wall, a Swing/Assistant Dance Captain in EVITA, garnered Actors’ Equity’s fabled Gypsy Robe® on Thursday, April 5 at the Marquis Theatre in Times Square. The colorful garment was presented to the seasoned chorus member on opening night, 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 jumped to the center for a high energy photo op.

Mr. Westphal then introduced Gypsy Robe® volunteer Terry Marone, who invited prior robe recipients to come to center stage, including Aaron J. Albano, Amber Stone, Eileen Casey, Mark Cassius, James Dybas, Kevin Ligon, Bill Nable, Sara Schmidt and Matt Wall. Westphal also introduced AEA Business Rep Walt Kiskaddon.

Albano who just received the robe in NEWSIES, 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, Max von Essen
Photo: Walter McBride

Matt has numerous Broadway credits, including HOW TO SUCCEED…, PROMISES, PROMISES; SOUTH PACIFIC, CURTAINS, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, 110 IN THE SHADE, DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, FOLLIES, and SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER. He previously received the robe for PROMISES, PROMISES.

“Working on EVITA has been an incredible process,” wrote Matt Wall, following the ceremony. “ It is a gorgeous production with an incredibly talented ensemble cast. I am so proud to be a part of it. Receiving the Gypsy Robe® on opening night was a real honor and something I will never forget. I feel blessed to be among those who have worn the robe before me and can't wait to pass it on to the next Gypsy! “

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 case displays the Robe from the 1982-1983 season. 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.


Michael Grandage, Elena Roger, Matt Wall, Rob Ashford, Michael Cerveris, Ricky Martin
Photo: Walter McBride


Aaron J. Albano reads the Gypsy Robe® tradition
Photo: Walter McBride


Elena Roger with cast members making their Broadway debuts
Photo: Walter McBride


Matt Wall
Photo: Walter McBride


Matt Wall puts on the robe
Photo: Walter McBride


Click here for more Gypsy Robe® information...

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