Posted April 6, 2011
Cleve Asbury Garners Gypsy Robe in HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING
Just prior to a star-studded Broadway opening, Cleve Asbury received AEA's iconic Gypsy Robe on the opening night (March 27, 2011) of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING backstage at the Al Hirschfeld 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. Those who were making their Broadway debut with this show were brought to the center and given a welcoming round of applause. He then introduced AEA Executive Director Mary McColl, and Gloria Rosenthal (Robe Historian). Also attending were AEA staff members Joe Chiplock, Jen Hills, Barry Rosenberg, David Thorn and Christopher Williams.
Next, Mr. Westphal invited previous Gypsy Robe recipients to come to the center of the circle, including Adrian Bailey, Eilleen Casey, Ceil Delli, Pi Douglass, Harvey Evans, Merwin Foard, Richard E. Korthaze, Bill Nabel and Amber Stone. Megan Sikora, Cleve Asbury, and Matt Wall, currently in the cast of HOW TO SUCCEED…, are also previous robe recipients.
Cleve Asbury and Richard Korthaze - Korthaze received the Gypsy Robe in the original HOW TO SUCCEED...
A huge ovation went to Richard E. Korthaze, when it was announced that he had received the Gypsy Robe in the original Broadway cast of HOW TO SUCCEED in 1961 ……
Michael James Scott, who just received the robe in BOOK OF MORMON, was introduced and recited the robe's history before announcing (drumroll) that Cleve Asbury was the newest recipient. Cleve slipped on the garment and circled the stage three times while everyone reached out and touched the robe to receive its blessing.
Cleve has appeared in the chorus of 10 prior Broadway shows, including: CHITA RIVERA :THE DANCER'S LIFE, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, JEROME ROBBIN'S BROADWAY, ME & MY GIRL, HARRIGAN AND HART, BRING BACK BIRDIE, WEST SIDE STORY, PETER PAN, WONDERFUL TOWN, and COPPERFIELD.
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.
John Larroquette, Cleve Asbury, and Daniel Radcliffe
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 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.