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    Posted December 22, 2011

Gypsy Robe


Amidst the psychedelic set and brightly colored potted plants, the cast of ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER started to assemble for the traditional Gypsy Robe Ceremony when Stage Manager Lisa Iacucci gave the call to the cast and crew that the Equity folks had arrived carrying the robe. Chorus members Alex Ellis, Alysha Umphress, Tyler Maynard, Zachary Prince, Benjamin Eakely, Grasan Kingsberry, Patrick O'Neill, Christianne Tisdale and Kendal Hartse quickly made their way to the stage, anxious and excited to hear who would receive the Robe for their show. The time honored tradition holds a lot of meaning for actors on a Chorus contract in a Broadway show - this was their "moment" on opening night and everyone gathered was there to celebrate them!

The show's stars, Harry Connick Jr., David Turner, Jessie Meuller, Kerry O'Malley, Drew Gehling, Sara Stiles, Paul O'Brien, Heather Ayers and Lori Wilner, quickly took their places among the Chorus. Producers, General Managers and designers were also on hand. For everyone connected with the show, the Gypsy Robe was an integral part of the rituals associated with the opening of a Broadway musical and no one wanted to miss the ceremony.

David Eggers, Jack Sciotto-Eggers and son Samson
Photo: Walter McBride

David Westphal, Equity's National/Chorus Business Representative (ACCA) , welcomed everyone to the ceremony. As he spoke, the company grew quiet but the excitement was palpable. To start the ceremony, three cast members, Jessie Mueller, Kendal Hartse and Patrick O'Neill, who were making their Broadway debut were given special acknowledgement.

Resplendent in a Gypsy Robe, Eric Sciotto, who received the robe for PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, read a message from Tad Wilson to the crowd. Tad, who was the most recent recipient for BONNIE AND CLYDE, was unable to be at the ceremony because he was at his matinee. Regardless, his enthusiasm and well wishes were apparent in his message, which read, in part:

"I would like to first congratulate the cast of CLEAR DAY on their opening…I hope tonight's performance will be an opportunity for each of you to celebrate the work you've done to get here. I believe in family and I am proud to be a part of an amazing Broadway family and although I cannot be here physically tonight to share this with you my thoughts are there and I am thankful for each of my brothers and sisters in this cast. You deserve an amazing opening and a prosperous run."

Grasan Kingsberry
Photo: Walter McBride

With a glorious flourish, Eric announced the ON A CLEAR DAY Gypsy Robe recipient was Grasan Kingsberry.

Grasan, who stood for a moment in complete surprise, quickly stepped to center stage to accept the robe. He ran the circle of the crowd three times counterclockwise (as the ceremony requires) and even danced through much of his third time around the circle. Grasan's Broadway credits include CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, FINNIAN'S RAINBOW, THE COLOR PURPLE, DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS and AIDA. In an interview afterwards, Grasan explained that he had watched a Tony Award ceremony when he was young and decided that he wanted to be onstage. "I've been part of five Gypsy Robe ceremonies, but I never thought it would be me," he exclaimed. "This is an honor and I'm thrilled." He then cocked his hat and posed for pictures, knowing he was part of the Gypsy Robe and ACCA history.

Former robe recipient Joann Hunter was there to cheer on the cast and her presence held a special meaning for everyone - Joann is the choreographer of ON A CLEAR DAY. Other former recipients Adrian Bailey, Jennifer Smith, Bill Nable, Kevin Ligon, Joanna Noble, David Eggers, Eileen Casey, Richie Mastascusa and Second Vice President Rebecca Kim Jordan, who represents Chorus members of the Union, as well as Gypsy Robe Angel Terry Marone Robe Historian Gloria Rosenthal were also among the many people gathered onstage for the ceremony.

Jessie Mueller, David Turner, Grayson Kingsberry, Harry Connick Jr
Photo: Walter McBride

Cast Members Touch the Robe
Photo: Walter McBride

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