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    Posted May 3, 2012

AEA’s GYPSY ROBE® BLESSES LEAP OF FAITH

Dennis Stowe Garners Colorful Chorus Icon on Opening Night on Broadway


Dennis Stowe
Photo: Walter McBride

Dennis Stowe garnered Actors’ Equity’s fabled Gypsy Robe® on Thursday, April 26, 2012 on the opening night of LEAP OF FAITH at the St. James Theatre, ending the 2011-2012 Broadway season. 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 came to the center of the stage and posed for a phalanx of cameras as the excitement on stage became palpable.

Mr. Westphal then introduced AEA Vice Presidents Paige Price and Ira Mont; and invited prior robe recipients to come to center stage, including Adrian Bailey, Pi Douglass, Graysan Kingsberry, Michael X. Martin, Roger Preston Smith, Jennifer Smith, Dennis Stowe, J.D Webster and Tad Wilson.


Dennis Stowe, Graysan Kingsberry
Photo: Walter McBride

Cameron Adams, who just received the robe in NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, recited the robe’s history and then announced the newest recipient: Dennis Stowe. The stage burst into applause as Dennis put on the Gypsy Robe® and raced around the stage three times while everyone reached out and touched the garment to receive its blessing.

Dennis has six Broadway credits, including SHREK THE MUSICAL, THE APPLE TREE, DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, THE WEDDING SINGER, WONDERFUL TOWN and MAN OF LA MANCHA. He had previously garnered the robe in THE APPLE TREE.

Following the ceremony, Dennis said “I am so thrilled and honored to be a part of such an amazing tradition on B'way and how even after 7 shows and two times receiving the robe, it NEVER gets old!!

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 Robe® s 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 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 Robe® s for display. Periodically, the Robe s will be rotated so members may have the chance to see various Robe s. Robe s 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.


Raul Esparza, Dennis Stowe, Graysan Kingsberry
Photo: Walter McBride


Alan Menken, Dennies Stowe
Photo: Walter McBride


Cast of LEAP OF FAITH
Photo: Walter McBride


David Westphal, Dennis Stowe, Cameron Adams
Photo: Walter McBride


Dennis Stowe surrouded by cast members
Photo: Walter McBride


Dennis Stowe, Cameron Adams
Photo: Walter McBride


Ira Mont, David Westphal, Dennis Stowe, Paige Price
Photo: Walter McBride


Click here for more Gypsy Robe® information...

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