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    Posted November 20, 2012

AEA's Gypsy Robe® !

Timothy J. Alex Garners AEA's Fabled Gypsy Robe® for ELF

The Christmas spirit was boosted to a new high by the excitement of the ELF cast as they gathered on stage at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on Sunday, November 18th for the Gypsy Robe® Ceremony. Timothy J. Alex became the latest recipient of the robe in this time-honored Broadway tradition.


Timothy J. Alex
Photo: Walter McBride

Cast and crew formed a large circle as Equity’s Business Rep for Chorus Affairs, David Westphal brought to center stage three members of the cast – Mitchell Sink, Rory Donovan and Jason Eric Testa - making their Broadway debut. He then introduced Equity Third Vice President Ira Mont. Everyone’s attention turned again to the center of the circle where former Robe recipients Eileen Casey (MARILYN: AN AMERICAN FABLE), Adrian Bailey ( THE LITTLE MERMAID, JELLY’S LAST JAM, LEGS DIAMOND, PRINCE OF CENTRAL PARK) and ELF’s own cast member Emily Hsu (SPAMALOT, BELLS ARE RINGING). Then, Carlos L. Encenias, who was the most recent Robe recipient, for SCANDALOUS on November 9th, introduced himself and read the history of the Robe’s beginnings. He then announced Timothy J. Alex as the next recipient, who donned the Robe and circled the stage counter clockwise three times, as called for by tradition. Afterward, Mr. Alex visited each dressing room, blessing the show’s Broadway run.


Carlos L. Encinias recipient for SCANDALOUS
Photo: Walter McBride

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.


Timothy J. Alex with Mitchell Sink, Jordan Gelber, Michael Mandell, Beth Leavel, Wayne Knight, Mark Jacoby & Leslie Kritzer
Photo: Walter McBride


Timothy J. Alex with Leslie Kritzer, Carlos L. Encinias, David Westphal, Eric Lajuan Summers, Ariel Reid & Company
Photo: Walter McBride


Timothy J. Alex & Eric Lajuan Summers & Ariel Reid
Photo: Walter McBride


Click here for more Gypsy Robe® information...

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