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    Posted November 19, 2012

AEA's Gypsy Robe® !

Eric Sciotto Garners AEA's Fabled Gypsy Robe® for THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD

The stage at Studio 54 was booming with excitement as the cast and crew of THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD eagerly awaited opening night and the unveiling of the most recent recipient of the coveted Gypsy Robe, Eric Sciotto. Equity's National Chorus Business Representative David Westphal started off the ceremony by asking everyone to form a circle and the enthusiastic cast and crew cheered as they got into place.

David Westphal Eric Sciotto and Merwin Foard
Photo: Walter McBride

Westphal invited everyone in attendance to welcome the Broadway debut of Spencer Plachy and then introduced AEA President Nick Wyman, 1ST Vice President Paige Price, 2nd Vice President Rebecca Kim Jordan, 3rd Vice President Ira Mont, and Eastern Regional Director Thomas Carpenter. It was then time to introduce all of the previous Gypsy Robe Recipients who were not in the cast of EDWIN DROOD: Judine Richard (HAIRSPRAY), Eileen Casey (MARILYN), Jennifer Smith (HIGH SOCIETY, ONCE UPON A MATTRESS), Harvey Evans (OKLAHOMA!, SUNSET BOULEVARD), David Eggers (CURTAINS), Rod Harrelson (BRING IT ON), Dennis Stowe (LEAP OF FAITH, THE APPLE TREE), Grasan Kingsberry (ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER), Richard Korthaze (HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS, DANCIN’), Bjarne Buchtrup (ARI), Rommy Sandhu (BOMBAY DREAMS & MARY POPPINS), J.D. Webster (PORGY AND BESS ) and Adrian Bailey (THE LITTLE MERMAID, JELLY'S LAST JAM, LEGS DIAMOND, PRINCE OF CENTRAL PARK).

Merwin Foard recipient for ANNIE
Photo: Walter McBride

Next Chita Rivera, a Gypsy Robe recipient who is best known as "Queen of the Gypsies" entered the center of the circle and joined her fellow cast members and previous Robe recipients Eric Sciotto (PAL JOEY, PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT), Betsy Wolfe (EVERDAY RAPTURE), Jenifer Foote (FOLLIES), and Shannon Lewis (THE PEOPLE IN THE PICTURE). Merwin Foard, who just received the robe for ANNIE on November 8th read the history of the Gypsy Robe explaining how the tradition began. He then announced that the recipient of Gypsy Robe for THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD was Eric Sciotto. Westphal congratulated the cast and welcomed them all to Broadway. On Thursday, November 15th, Sciotto will pass the Robe onto the recipient at the Opening Night performance of SCANDOLOUS.

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 three 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. A robe from the 2005-2006 season is on display in the Chicago office.

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.

Jessie Mueller, Betsy Wolfe, Chita Rivera, Will Chase, Peter Benson, Stephanie J. Block, Rupert Holmes & Eric Sciotto
Photo: Walter McBride

Eric and Company
Photo: Walter McBride

Click here for more Gypsy Robe® information...

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