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    Posted April 16, 2011

Gypsy Robe!

Jennifer Frankel Catches the Gypsy Robe in CATCH ME IF YOU CAN

Norbert Leo Butz, Jennifer Frankel, Aaron Tveit
Photo: Walter McBride

It was no con when Jennifer Frankel was announced as the newest recipient of Equity's Gypsy Robe. The colorful garment was presented to Jennifer on the opening night of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, the high flying new Broadway musical about a teenage con man, on Sunday, April 10, 2011 at the Neil Simon Theatre, recreating the 61-year old Broadway tradition of the Gypsy Robe.

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. The crowd was replete with the cast (including stars Aaron Tveit, Norbert Leo Butz, Tom Wopat, Kerry Butler, Rachel de Benedet, Linda Hart and Equity President Nick Wyman), members of the creative and producing teams director Jack O'Brien, composer Marc Shaiman, lyricist Scott Wittman and choreographer Jerry Mitchell, and Equity staffers Eastern Regional Director Rick Berg, Business Rep Walt Kiskaddon, Jenn Michaud, Mary Kate Gilrein, David Thorn, Joe Chiplock. Former Executive Director Carol Waaser and Councillor Brian Myers Cooper were also on hand.

Jennifer Frankel
Photo: Walter McBride

Mr. Westphal introduced Gloria Rosenthal, who is the Robe historian, and Terry Marone, who kicked off the event by introducing previous Gypsy Robe recipients, including Pi Douglass, Eileen Casey, Adrian Bailey, Harvey Evans, Greg Graham, Lisa Gajda and Michael X. Martin (who are also appearing in CATCH ME IF YOU CAN),and Mr. Mitchell. Joyce Chittick, dressed in the robe which she received for ANYTHING GOES, just days before, recited the robe's history and announced Jennifer as the newest recipient. Applause grew thunderous as she donned the iconic garment and circled the stage three times while everyone reached out and touched the garment to receive its blessing.

Jennifer Frankel
Photo: Walter McBride


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.

Jerry Mitchell, Jennifer Frankel
Photo: Walter McBride

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.

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.

Click here for more Gypsy Robe information...

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