Posted April 14, 2011
I Get A Kick Out Of…
Joyce Chittick Receives AEA's Colorful Gypsy Robe In ANYTHING GOES
(l to r) Joyce Chittick
Joyce Chittick is the latest recipient of AEA's iconic Gypsy Robe. The colorful garment was presented to Joyce on the opening night of ANYTHING GOES on April 7 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, recreating a 61-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. He introduced AEA President Nick Wyman, 2nd VP Rebecca Kim Jordon and 3rd VP Ira Mont, and invited cast members who were making their Broadway debuts to take a bow.
Next, Mr. Westphal introduced Terry Marone, who invited previous Gypsy Robe recipients to come to the center of the circle, including two ANYTHING GOES cast members (Nikki Rene Daniels and William Ryall), as well as David Eggers, Joanne Hunter, Richard Korthaze, Rommy Sandhu, Eric Sciotto, and Amber Stone.
(l to r) Kimberly Fauré, Andrew Cao, Anthony Wayne, Daniel J. Edwards and Kevin Munhall.
Cleve Asbury, who garnered the robe in HOW TO SUCCEED…stepped forward to recite the robe's colorful history, before announcing (drum roll) that Joyce was the newest recipient. Joyce joyfully donned the garment and circled the stage three times while everyone reached out and touched the garment to receive its blessing.
Joyce has appeared in the Chorus of 10 other Broadway shows, including CABARET, GREASE, SWEET CHARITY, WONDERFUL TOWN, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, SEUSSICAL, ONCE UPON A MATTRESS, BIG, THE WHO'S TOMMY, and CATS.
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.
Sutton Foster, Joyce Chittick, Joel Grey
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 1982-1983 robe. The 2007-2008 Robe, dedicated to Broadway veteran Adrian Bailey, can be viewed on the fourteenth floor Council lobby.
Director/Choreographer Kathleen Marshall and Joyce Chittick
In Orlando, the robe from the 2003-2004 season can be viewed during business hours.
In October, 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.