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    Posted April 5, 2012

AEA’s Gypsy Robe®

...GOES TO AARON J. ALBANO IN NEWSIES


Aaron J. Albano
Photo: Walter McBride

Extra! Extra! Aaron J. Albano is the newest recipient of AEA’s iconic Gypsy Robe®, which was bestowed on the opening night of NEWSIES on Thursday, March 29, 2012. The colorful garment was presented to the Chorus member onstage at the Nederlander Theatre, 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 came to the center of the stage for a high energy photo op.

Mr. Westphal then introduced special guests in attendance, including AEA President Nick Wyman; AEA Executive Director Mary McColl; AEA 3rd Vice President Ira Mont, and Business Representative Walt Kiskaddaon.

Gypsy Robe® volunteer Terry Marone invited prior Robe recipients to come center stage, including Adrian Bailey, Eileen Casey, Kevin Ligon, Michael X. Martin, Judine Sommerville, Jennifer Smith, Bill Nable, Arbender Robinson, Tommar Wilson, J.D. Webster, Michael James Scott, and Mark Cassius, who just received the Robe® in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR.


Albano, Mary McColl, Nick Wyman
Photo: Walter McBride

Mark recited the Robe’s history and then announced the newest recipient: Aaron J. Albano. The stage erupted into cheers and applause as Aaron put on the Robe and raced around the stage three times while everyone reached out and touched the garment to receive its blessing.

Aaron has appeared in the Broadway choruses of MARY POPPINS, BOMBAY DREAMS, WICKED and A CHORUS LINE.

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 Robe®s. 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.


Kara Lindsay, Aaron J. Albano, Jeremy Jordan
Photo: Walter McBride


Aaron J. Albano and cast members
Photo: Walter McBride


Albano with robe front
Photo: Walter McBride


Click here for more Gypsy Robe information...

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