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December 05, 2003


Roxane Barlow,Noah Racey and Nancy Lenenager
photo by Walter McBride/RETNA

Jerry Mitchell, Karen Ziemba and others touch the robe as Roxane Barlow makes the rounds wearing the Gypsy Robe.
photo by Walter McBride/RETNA

Alan Eisenberg and Roxane Barlow
photo by Walter McBride/RETNA


ROXANE BARLOW, currently performing in NEVER GONNA DANCE, is the newest recipient of Equity's famous "Gypsy Robe." The colorful icon was presented to the chorus member at a special backstage ceremony at the Broadhurst Theatre on Thursday, December 4, 2003, recreating an historic, theatrical ritual that began on Broadway over 50 years ago. This is Ms. Barlow's 10th Broadway show, having previously appeared in shows like CHICAGO, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, FOLLIES, DAME EDNA, and VICTOR/VICTORIA. This is the second time she was won the Gypsy Robe.

Terry Marone, Director of the Gypsy Robe, introduced Equity Executive Director Alan Eisenberg and Communications Director David Lotz, along with other robe recipients, including: Joyce Chittick (CABARET, SEUSSICAL), Harvey Evans (OKLAHOMA, SUNSET BLVD), choreographer Jerry Mitchell (THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES), Bill Nabel (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST), Jennifer Cody (URINETOWN), and Austin Colyer (SINGIN' IN THE RAIN).

After explaining the robe's history, Vincent Pesce, the robe winner from WONDERFUL TOWN, explained presented the garment to Roxane, who circled the stage three times according as everyone in the cast touched the robe to bring "blessings" to the new musical.

The Gypsy Robe began as a lark in 1950, when Bill Bradley, in the chorus of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, borrowed a dressing gown and sent it to a friend in CALL ME MADAM on opening night (Oct 12, 1950) saying it was worn by all the Ziegfield 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 done 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, Actors' Equity recently donated two robes into permanent collections at the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History; three robes are permanently loaned to the Museum of the City of New York. Seven "elderly" robes are still maintained by the Union at its national headquarters on West 46th Street, and one is always on display in the Equity Audition Center.

Photos and a list of robe recipients may be viewed on Actors' Equity's website.

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