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May 2, 2003

Equity's "Gypsy Robe" goes to THE LOOK OF LOVE

Robe Ceremony Concludes 2002-2003 Season

Eric Jordan Young and company

Cast members of THE LOOK OF LOVE gather around Gypsy Robe winner Eric Jordan Young (center) - clockwise from bottom left: Janine LaManna, Farah Alvin, Capathia Jenkins, Desmond Richardson, Allyson Turner and Rachelle Rak

photo by Walter McBride/Retna

Eric Jordan Young and Gina Lamparella

Gina Lamparella, the previous recipient, helps Eric don the Robe.

photo by Walter McBride/Retna

Eric Jordan Young is the last recipient of Equity's famous "Gypsy Robe" for the 2002-2003 season. The colorful icon was presented at a special backstage ceremony at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on opening night, recreating an historic, theatrical ritual that began on Broadway over 50 years ago. Mr. Young has appeared on Broadway in CHICAGO, SEUSSICAL, and RAGTIME.

Terry Marone, Director of the Gypsy Robe, introduced David Lotz, AEA's Communications Director, and Gloria Rosenthal, the Robe Historian. She also acknowledged Joan Bell, who received the robe in 1964 for SOMETHING MORE.

Gina Lamparella, the robe winner from GYPSY, presented the robe to Eric, who circled the stage three times in accordance with the robe tradition 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 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 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.

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