Posted November 9, 2010
Julio Agustin Receives AEA's Fabled Gypsy Robe In WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN
Director Bartlett Sher, Pedro Almodovar, Julio Agustin, composer/lyricist David Yazbeck
Julio Agustin is the latest recipient of AEA's iconic Gypsy Robe. The colorful garment was presented to Julio on opening night (November 4) at the Belasco Theatre, recreating a 60-year old Broadway tradition that began in 1950.
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. Building up the excitement, two cast members who were making their Broadway debuts - Justin Guarini and Nikka Graff Lanzarone - came forward for photos as everyone applauded
Next, Mr. Westphal introduced robe historian Gloria Rosenthal and invited previous Gypsy Robe recipients to come to the center of the circle, including Adrian Bailey, Eileen Casey, Pi Douglass, Eamon Foley, Steve Konopelski, Richard Korthaze, Ritchie Mastascusa, Bill Nable and Betsy Wolfe.
AEA's David Westphal and JC Montgomery (Scottsboro Boys) help Julio don the robe
Also observing the ceremony were AEA President Nick Wyman, National Communications Director David Lotz, Executive Assistant Joe Chiplock and Assistant Membership Director David Thorn.
JC Montgomery, who just received the robe in THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS, was introduced and recited the robe's history before announcing (drumroll) that Julio Agustin was the newest recipient. Cheers erupted as Julio donned the iconic garment and circled the stage three times while everyone reached out and touched the garment to receive its blessing.
Julio has appeared in the chorus of five Broadway shows, including CHICAGO, BELLS ARE RINGING, FOSSE, NEVER GONNA DANCE and STEEL PIER. This is his first Gypsy Robe.
Julio with AEA President Nick Wyman
The Gypsy Robe began on October 12, 1950, when Bill Bradley, 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 seen 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.
Last month, a Gypsy Robe went on display at Equity's new Chicago office at 557 West Randolph Street. It covers Broadway musicals between May 2005 and May 2006.
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.