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    Posted September 17, 2012


Lisa Gajda Garners Gypsy Robe® for CHAPLIN

Lisa Gajda
Photo: Walter McBride

Lisa Gajda, currently performing in CHAPLIN, is the most recent recipient of Equity's famous "Gypsy Robe." The colorful icon, presented on the stage of the Barrymore Theatre on Monday, September 10, 2012, is an opening night tradition that honors a member of the chorus who has the most Broadway chorus credits.

Entering the large circle of expectant faces, Rod Harrelson, the previous recipient of the coveted Robe for BRING IT ON modeled the robe while Chorus Affairs Business Rep David Westphal gave a brief history of the long-standing tradition that has its roots in a simple gesture more than 50 years ago.

Mr. Westphal then introduced Eastern Regional Director Thomas Carpenter, and AEA President Nick Wyman who were in attendance. Terry Marone invited prior Robe recipients to come center stage including Eileen Casey, Jennifer Frankel, Bjarne Buchtrup, Kevin Ligon, Roger Preston Smith, J.D. Webster and the former recipients who are currently in the CHAPLIN cast Lisa Gajda, William Ryall and Jim Borstelmann.

After explaining the robe's history Mr. Harrelson presented the garment to Lisa, who circled the stage three times accordingly as everyone in the cast touched the robe to bring "blessings" to the new musical. This marks the sixth time Lisa has been presented with the Gypsy Robe. She previously received the Robe for TABOO, TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGING, CRY BABY, FINIAN’S RAINBOW, and ELF.

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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.

Click here for more Gypsy Robe® information...

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