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    Posted April 18, 2013


Michael Arnold Receives AEA's Iconic Gypsy Robe® for MOTOWN

Recreating 60 Year Historic Broadway Backstage Tradition

Charles Randolph-Wright & Michael Arnold
Photo: Walter McBride

On Sunday, April 14th, the grapevine was buzzing backstage at the opening of the new musical, MOTOWN. Everyone was speculating: who would receive the Gypsy Robe®? There were four front runners, but no one was sure.

The cast, crew and special guests gathered onstage for the tradition Gypsy Robe ceremony. Stepping to the center of the crowd, Nadine Isenegger, who received the robe for MATILDA, read the history of the tradition and the special meaning it has for the Broadway theatrical community. She turned to face Michael Arnold and announced his name to a riotous chant of "Michael! Michael! Michael!" and a rush of cast mates taking photos of the moment.

Sitting on his heels amidst members of the cast, Michael looked stunned. He had clearly been part of the grapevine thinking the robe would be bestowed to someone else. It didn't take long for him to jump up and happily put on the robe! With arms outstretched, he said, "This is a beautiful honor! It's my lucky 13 [referring to his 13 credits] but I thought it would be John Jellison!" Laughing, he turned and ran counter clockwise three times, allowing everyone to touch the robe for luck.

At the top of the ceremony, David Westphal had welcomed everyone to the Gypsy Robe ceremony. Spotted among the crowd of nearly 50 were the show's director Charles Randolph Wright, AEA Third Vice President Ira Mont, AEA Executive Director Mary McColl, Eastern Regional Director Tom Carpenter, numerous members of the general management office including Nina Lannan and other well-wishers.

Westphal asked the actors who were making their Broadway debuts to step to the center. Enthusiastic applause erupted for: Nicholas Christopher; Bryan Terrell Clark; Rebecca E. Covington; Jawan M. Jackson; Crystal Joy; Raymond Luke, Jr.; Jibreel Mawry; Ryan Shaw; Donald Webber, Jr.

The Gypsy Robe® Ceremony is an important tradition, and holds special meaning for members of the Chorus. On hand to help welcome Michael to the distinguished list of performers who have received the robe were former Robe recipients: Adrian Bailey, Eileen Casey, Richie Mastacussi, James Dyvas, Michael X. Martin, Richie Mastacusa and three members of the MOTOWN cast: John Jellison, Timothy J. Alex and Grasan Kingsberry.

Michael Arnold's theatrical credits are numerous and include BILLY ELLIOT; SOUTH PACIFIC; JUMPERS; KISS ME, KATE; TOMMY; CHICAGO; GUYS AND DOLLS, 42ND STREET; A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM; CATS; LITTLE ME and CABARET. He has been nominated for two Helen Hayes Awards, as well as for an Ovation Award, a Joseph Jefferson Award and he received a Fred Astaire Award for his work in 42nd STREET.

Cast members making theirbroadway debuts
Photo: Walter McBride

Michael Arnold with Brandon Victor Dixon, Patricia Wilcox & Company
Photo: Walter McBride

David Westphal & Michael Arnold with Nadine Isenegger (recipient for 'Matilda') & the Cast
Photo: Walter McBride

Michael Arnold & Cast
Photo: Walter McBride

Executive Director of AEA Mary McColl, Michael Arnold & AEA Eastern Regional Director Thomas Carpenter
Photo: Walter McBride

Click here for more Gypsy Robe® information...

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