Posted March 30, 2016
AEA’s GYPSY ROBE®
A Historic 65-Year Backstage Tradition on Broadway
Shining Bright! Sarah Jane Shanks takes the Gypsy Robe for Bright Star
“Having been part of four Gypsy Robe ceremonies now, I’ve always looked up to Broadway gypsies — people that move fluidly from the ensemble of one show to another. There is a limited number of Broadway contracts available compared to the countless talented, deserving people out there. Each role, whether principal or ensemble, is hard-earned and special.
I can see why it’s often said that some principals ‘carry the show on their back.’ I have immense respect for that level of dedication and talent. But then, the ensemble might be the ‘wind beneath their wings!’ It takes a lot of people to run a show; everyone backstage and onstage has great value. How sweet that there’s a tradition to honor Broadway chorus members (and those making their debuts) for their hard work. I don’t have words to express my gratitude to be a part of this community.
Getting the robe for Bright Star was really special to me because, in all my years on Broadway, I never pictured myself in it! (This, of course, is because Michael X. Martin graciously passed it down to me, having already worn the robe.) A few years ago, I put this career on a shelf to pursue some other dreams. I had no idea God would gift it back to me by way of Bright Star. Wearing the gypsy robe sweetens this experience all the more.”
Sarah Jane Shanks
photo: Walter McBride
Name: Sarah Jane Shanks
Hometown: Marietta, GA
Opening Night: March 24, 2016
Broadway Debut: Wonderful Town (2004)
Professional Training: BFA, University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music
Year Joined Equity: 2001
How I Got My Equity Card: “I got my Equity card doing summer stock at Pittsburgh CLO in 2001. I was still in college at the time, so it was thrilling to work with high caliber actors, directors and choreographers. I am forever grateful to Andy Blankenbuehler for noticing my talent at the audition and helping me get my foot in the door!”
Broadway Chorus Credits: 6
Fun Fact: “All of my socks are yellow! Many years ago, a dear friend of mine died at a young age. He was known for his love of the color yellow. So, when I was getting dressed to celebrate his life, I just couldn’t wear all black. That day, I chose to wear yellow socks to honor him — and I just never stopped.”
Moments from the Gypsy Robe® Ceremony
Sarah Jane Shanks does the ceremonial three laps around the stage.
Sarah Jane Shanks with the cast members of Bright Star.