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    Posted April 6, 2011

Gypsy Robe

Michael James Scott Receives AEA's Fabled Gypsy Robe In THE BOOK OF MORMON

Michael James Scott, David Westphal
Photo: Walter McBride

Michael James Scott is the latest recipient of AEA's iconic Gypsy Robe. The colorful garment was presented to Michael on the opening night of THE BOOK OF MORMON on March 24 at the Eugene O'Neill 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, 1ST VP Paige Price, and Executive Director Mary McColl to the crowd. Also attending were ED for Finance and Administration Steve DiPaola, and former ED Carol Waaser.

Next, Mr. Westphal introduced Terry Marone, who invited previous Gypsy Robe recipients to come to the center of the circle, including Brian O'Brien, James Dybas, Pi Douglass, David Eggers, Harvey Evans, Michael X. Martin, Casey Nicholaw (who directs BOOK OF MORMON), Bill Nable, Neva Rae Powers, and Tommar Wilson.

Eric Sciotto, Robe Recipient from PRISCILLA
Photo: Walter McBride

Eric Sciotto, who just received the robe in PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT, was introduced and recited the robe's history before announcing (drumroll) that Michael was the newest recipient. Applause and whoops erupted as Michael donned the iconic garment and circled the stage three times while everyone reached out and touched the garment to receive its blessing.

Michael has appeared in the chorus of six Broadway shows, including HAIR, ELF, ALL SHOOK UP, MAMMA MIA, TARZAN, and THE PIRATE QUEEN.

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.

Michael James Scott and Casey Nicholaw
Photo: Walter McBride

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.

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.

Mary McColl, Michael James Scott, Nick Wyman, Paige Price
Photo: Walter McBride

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