Posted August 8, 2012
AEA’s Gypsy Robe® Goes To Rod Harrelson For BRING IT ON
31 Cast Members Celebrate Broadway Debuts!
Rod Harrelson is the newest recipient of AEA's iconic Gypsy Robe®, which was bestowed on the opening night of BRING IT ON on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at the St. James Theatre. The colorful garment was presented onstage by the previous robe recipient, Dennis Stowe (LEAP OF FAITH), in a high energy ceremony that also featured 31 Broadway debuts.
Equity's National Chorus Business Representative David Westphal welcomed everyone and invited company members to form a large circle to begin the ceremony. The excitement was palpable as 31 cast members who were making their Broadway debuts came to the center of the stage for a dazzling photo op.
Mr. Westphal then introduced special guests in attendance, AEA 3rd Vice President Ira Mont, and Business Representatives Jeffrey Bateman and Frank Stancati.
Former robe recipients were then invited to come forward, including Aaron Albano, Adrian Bailey, Michael Balderrama, Bjarne Buchtrup, Eileen Casey, David Eggers, Eric Sciotto, Grasan Kingsberry, Kevin Ligon, Arbender Robinson, Marianne Selbert, Jennifer Smith, and Dennis Stowe, who received the robe in LEAP OF FAITH on the very same stage.
Dennis recited the robe's history and then announced the newest recipient: Rod Harrelson. The stage erupted into cheers and applause as Rod put on the robe and raced around the stage three times while everyone reached out and touched the garment to receive its blessing.
Rod has appeared in the Broadway choruses of THE LION KING, THE FROGS, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG and LEGALLY BLONDE.
"Receiving the Gypsy Robe was an amazing and memorable day,” said Rod, after the ceremony. “It felt like the culmination of hard work and dedication to my craft. I feel very fortunate and blessed to have been able to work at what I love doing. With this honor, I feel extremely privileged!"
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 appeared 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.
Recognizing their cultural and historic value, Gypsy Robes can now be viewed in three of Equity's Offices:
In New York the second floor Audition Center 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.
In Orlando, the robe from the 2003-2004 is on display, and in Chicago, the robe from the 2005-2006 season is on display during business hours.
Robes are also on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC and The Museum of the City of New York.