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    Posted October 22, 2010

Bloody, Bloody Gypsy Robe Goes To Heath Calvert

Heath Calvert
photo by Walter McBride

The first Gypsy Robe of the 2010-2011 Broadway season went to Heath Calvert in the chorus of the new hit musical, BLOODY, BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON, recreating (almost to the day) a theatrical ritual that began on Broadway 60 years ago. The iconic garment was presented to Mr. Calvert on opening night (Wed Oct 13) at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.

Equity's National Chorus Business Representative David Westphal welcomed everyone onto the crowded 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 robe recipients including Bill Nable, Roger Preston Smith, Pi Douglass, and Matt Wall (PROMISES, PROMISES), who was filling in for Besty Wolfe (EVERYDAY RAPTURE), who was unable to attend.

Heath Calvert and Benjamin Walker
photo by Walter McBride

Also observing the ceremony were: 1ST VP Paige Price, Acting Executive Director, Chorus Councillor/ACCA Vice Chair Jeff Williams, Acting Executive Director Carol Waaser, Business Rep Frank Stancati, Executive Assistant Joe Chiplock, and National Communications Director David Lotz.

Matt recited the robe's history and then announced the newest recipient: Heath Calvert. The cast erupted with shouts as Heath donned the robe circled the stage three times while everyone reached out and touched the garment to receive its blessing. Heath has previously appeared on Broadway in HAIR and GOOD VIBRATIONS.

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 next Broadway musical on opening night. The tradition evolved so that the robe is now presented to the "gypsy" who has performed 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.

Heath Calvert, Paige Price, Terry Marone, Oskar Eustis
photo by Walter McBride

Recognizing their cultural and historic value, Gypsy Robes can now 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 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.

Click here for more Gypsy Robe information...

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