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    Posted November 5, 2010

Gypsy Robe

JC Montgomery Garners Gypsy Robe for THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS on Halloween

JC receives the robe from Heath Calvert (dressed wearing Bunnicula ears and fangs) assisted by David Westphal
Photo: Walter McBride

Recreating a Broadway tradition born 60 years ago, the second Gypsy Robe of the 2010-2011 Broadway season was given to JC Montgomery on the opening night of THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS at the Lyceum Theatre on Sunday, October 31.

Equity's National Chorus Business Representative David Westphal welcomed everyone onto the stage and invited company members to form a circle to begin the ceremony. Cast members who were making their Broadway debuts were acknowledged at the center of the stage.

Mr. Westphal then introduced robe historian Gloria Rosenthal and Gypsy Robe volunteer Terry Marone, who brought out past recipients of the robe including Austin Colyer, Eileen Casey, James Dybas, Adrian Bailey, Judine Somerville, and JC Montgomery.

AEA's 2nd VP Rebecca Kim Jordan and 3rd VP Ira Mont were joined by AEA Executive Assistant Joe Chiplock to observe the colorful ceremony.

In the spirit of Halloween, Heath Calvert (the most recent recipient for BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON) came dressed as "Bunnicula" (from the children's book series) with bunny rabbit ears and fangs.

Librettest David Thompson, John Kander, JC Montgomery, Susan Stroman
Photo: Walter McBride

After describing the robe's historic significance and procedures for the ceremony, Heath shouted out the newest recipient: JC Montgomery.

This is JC's second time to receive the Gypsy Robe, having received it in 2005 for THE COLOR PURPLE. His other Broadway chorus credits include: BYE BYE BIRDIE, THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE, THE LITTLE MERMAID, PARADE, SWING, and THOU SHALT NOT.

The Gypsy Robe began on October 12, 1950, when Bill Bradley, a dancer in the chorus of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES, borrowed a dressing gown from Chorus member Florence Baum and sent it to a friend in CALL ME MADAM on opening night, 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 the next Broadway musical on opening night. The tradition evolved so that the robe is now presented to the "gypsy" who has performed in 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, Gypsy Robes can now be viewed at Equity's Offices around the country. National Headquarters in New York now houses two of the historic Robes. The second floor Audition Center's newly designed case displays the Robe from the 2006-2007 season, which was dedicated by the ACCA to the memory of Patrick Quinn. The 2007-2008 Robe, dedicated to Broadway veteran Adrian Bailey, can be viewed on the fourteenth floor Council lobby.

In Orlando, the robe from the 2003-2004 season can be viewed during business hours.

On October 11th, a Gypsy Robe featuring shows from the 2005-2006 season debuted at Equity's brand new Chicago office at 557 West Randolph Street at the Central Region membership meeting.

Robes are also on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, The Museum of the City of New York and the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts.

The Scottsboro Boys company
Photo: Walter McBride

Click here for more Gypsy Robe information...

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