Posted March 7, 2013
AEA’s GYPSY ROBE®
Linda Mugleston Receives AEA's Iconic Gypsy Robe®
Linda Mugleston with David Westphal & Kirsten Wyatt
On Sunday March 3, the first Gypsy Robe® of 2013 was presented to Linda Mugleston for CINDERELLA at the Broadway theatre. This colorful ceremony, which honors a chorus member who has the most Broadway chorus credits on opening night, is one of Broadway's most cherished backstage traditions.
Equity's National Chorus Business Representative David Westphal welcomed everyone and invited company members to form a large circle to begin the ceremony. He then introduced Equity's 1st Vice President, Paige Price; 2nd VP Rebecca Kim Jordan, and 3rd VP Ira Mont, (who is coincidentally the Production Stage Manager for the show!) and robe historian Gloria Rosenthal.
Westphal invited cast members who were making their Broadway debut to come to the center of the stage for a photo. He then asked former Gypsy Robe® recipients to come forward, including: Rod Harrelson, Dale Hensley, Grasan Kingsberry, Eric Sciotto, J.D. Webster, Paula Legget Chase, and Kristine Bendul (who is also in CINDERELLA).
Kirsten Wyatt, who received the robe in A CHRISTMAS STORY, stepped forward to recite the robe's illustrious history and then announced the newest recipient: Linda Mugleston The stage burst into applause as Linda donned the robe and circled the stage three times while everyone reached out and touched the garment to receive its blessing.
CINDERELLA Robe Recipient Linda Mugleston
After the ceremony, Linda wrote: "I feel so honored to be a part of the Broadway community and now a part of its history, to be counted among the great performers who have received the robe before and after me."
Linda has appeared in six Broadway chorus musicals, including ANYTHING GOES; WONDERFUL TOWN; KISS ME, KATE; NINE; ON THE TOWN; and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.
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 Robe from the 2008-2009 season is now on display in the Times Square Visitor Center; and 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 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.