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April 10, 2003

EQUITY'S "GYPSY ROBE" GOES TO NINE

BROADWAY OPENING NIGHT TRADITION CONTINUES FOR OVER 50 YEARS!

LAURA BENANTI, MARY STUART MASTERSON, CHITA RIVERA, SARA GETTELFINGER (Gypsy Winner), ANTONIO BANDERAS and JANE KRAKOWSKI

Gypsy popularity - Robe recipient Sara Gettelfinger (center) is flanked by NINE cast members seeking blessings from the Gypsy Robe (l-r) Laura Benanti, Mary Stuart Masterson, Chita Rivera, Antonio Banderas and Jane Krakowski

photo by Walter McBride/Retna

Chita Rivera, Sara Gettelfinger, Alan Eisenberg and Jane Krakaowski

NINE cast members Chita Rivera (left) and Jane Krakowski (right) join Equity Executive Director Alan Eisenberg in congratulating Sara Gettelfinger

photo by Sabrina Gordin

Sara Gettelfinger, David Lotz

Making the rounds: NINE cast members and friends gather to touch the Robe and receive its blessings, including Equity's Director of Communications David Lotz (back row, left).

photo by Sabrina Gordin

Sara Gettelfinger, currently performing in NINE, 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 Eugene O'Neill theatre on opening night, recreating an historic, theatrical ritual that began on Broadway over 50 years ago. Ms. Gettelfinger has appeared in a number of Broadway shows, including SEUSSICAL, THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE, the National Tour of FOSSE, and ANYTHING GOES (Lincoln Center).

Terry Marone, Director of the Gypsy Robe, introduced Equity Executive Director Alan Eisenberg along with past Robe recipients: Jennifer Cody (URINETOWN), Jack Dabdoub (SHOWBOAT), James Dybas (PACIFIC OVERTURES, SCARLET PIMPERNEL), Harvey Evans (SUNSET BLVD, OKLAHOMA!), Deidre Goodwin (ROCKY HORROR SHOW), Richard Korthaze (DANCIN'), and Terry Violino (ILLYA DARLING, CAFÉ CROWN).

Michelle Kittrell, the robe winner from URBAN COWBOY, presented it to Sara Gettelfinger, who then circled the stage three times while cheering cast members from URBAN COWBOY (including Matt Cavenaugh) and NINE (including Antonio Banderas, Laura Benanti, Jane Krakowski, Mary Stuart Masterson and Chita Rivera) touched the robe for their blessing. "NINE is now blessed" proclaimed Ms. Kittrell.

During the ceremony, Broadway legend Chita Rivera was acknowledged as a special "Gypsy," having received the robe three times. "Perhaps no one epitomizes the gypsy spirit better than our own Chita Rivera," said Marone.

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, 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.

The next Gypsy Robe will be presented on May 1, 2003 before the opening of GYPSY at the Shubert Theatre.

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 are in the Gypsy Robe section of the Actors' Equity website: http://www.actorsequity.org/gypsyrobe/gypsyrobe_home.html.

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