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Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!

 

The new production of FOLLIES opened on Broadway on Monday night, September 12, 2011 to multiple rave reviews. Before the show, we were there for long-standing opening night tradition on the Great White Way, the fabled Gypsy Robe, which is bestowed upon a veteran Broadway chorus member for each opening production. In what has now become a theatrical ritual, originating on Broadway 60 years ago, FOLLIES cast member Jenifer Foote received the Gypsy Robe and BroadwayWorld was there for the celebration.

At the song and dance ceremony, cast members who were making their Broadway debuts were acknowledged at the center of the stage. Call then proceeded to circle the room in the robe in celebration with the entire FOLLIES family.

The Gypsy Robe began in 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 Oct 12, 1950 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.

Recognizing their cultural and historic value, Gypsy Robes can now be viewed at two of Equity's Offices. The 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.

The Robe from the 2003-2004 season is now housed in the Orlando office and members can stop by to view the Robe during business hours. In the coming year, the Los Angeles and new Chicago office will have their own Gypsy Robes for display. Periodically, the Robes will be rotated so members may have the chance to see various Robes. 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.

Photos by Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

 

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Director Eric Schaeffer & Bernadette Peters

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Director Eric Schaeffer & Elaine Paige

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Bernadette Peters & David Sabin

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Harvey Evans & Christian Delcroix

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Danny Burstein, Harvey Evans & Christian Delcroix

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Cast Members making their Broadway Debut

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Cast Members making their Broadway Debut

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Gypsy Robe Recipient Arbender Robinson 'Hair'

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Gypsy Robe Recipient Arbender Robinson 'Hair'

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Jenifer Foote & Company

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Jenifer Foote & Company

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Jenifer Foote & Company

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Gypsy Robe Recipient Arbender Robinson 'Hair' with Jenifer Foote

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
David Westphal, Gypsy Robe Recipient Arbender Robinson 'Hair' with Jenifer Foote

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Mary Beth Peil, Bernadette Peters, Harvey Evans & Susan Watson

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Lora Lee Gayer, Kirsten Scott, Christian Delcroix & Nick Verina

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Elaine Paige & Eric Schaeffer

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Terri White & Danny Burstein

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Jenifer Foote, Jayne Houdyshell, Mary Beth Peil, Bernadette Peters & Susan Watson with Company

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Jenifer Foote, Jan Maxwell & Company

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Mary Beth Peil, Bernadette Peters, Harvey Evans & Susan Watson

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Jenifer Foote, Mary Beth Peil, Bernadette Peters & Susan Watson

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Director Eric Schaeffer

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Elaine Paige

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Jenifer Foote, Danny Burstein, Elaine Paige, Eric Schaeffer & Company

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Jenifer Foote, Jan Maxwell & Company

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Terri White

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Terri White & Danny Burstein

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Mary Beth Peil, Bernadette Peters & Susan Watson

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Elaine Paige

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Elaine Paige & Eric Schaeffer with Michael M. Kaiser

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Jenifer Foote, Danny Burstein, Elaine Paige, Eric Schaeffer & Company

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Jenifer Foote & Company

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Jan Maxwell & Company

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Gypsy Robe Recipient Arbender Robinson 'Hair' & Jenifer Foote

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Paige Price AEA Acting President, Gypsy Robe Recipient Arbender Robinson 'Hair', Jenifer Foote & Rebecca Kim Jordan AEA 2nd V.P. Chair, ACCA

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Director Eric Schaeffer & Jenifer Foote

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Director Eric Schaeffer & Jenifer Foote

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Jenifer Foote, Danny Burstein, Terri White & Elaine Paige

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Jenifer Foote with Bernadette Peters, Jan Maxwell, Danny Burstein & Elaine Paige

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!
Jenifer Foote with Bernadette Peters, Jan Maxwell, Ron Raines Danny Burstein, Terri White & Elaine Paige

Photo Coverage Exclusive: FOLLIES Gypsy Robe Ceremony!

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Walter McBride As a 14 year old youth, Walter was transfixed by his first Broadway Show, the original production of 'GREASE'. His Journey to celebrity photojournalism began that fateful night. Meeting, photographing and getting to know the cast inspired him to spend his professional life doing what he loved. Walter moved to Manhattan and for a leading role as a Photographer & Photo Researcher. Currently headlining in New Jersey with his partner Richard and family members Dali (Jack Russell) & Gala (Schnoodle). Recently he made his Broadway debut sharing the stage with Hugh Jackman in 'Hugh Jackman on Broadway' as well as receiving the Actors' Equity Association Gypsy Spirit Award. Walter McBride Photography is syndicated worldwide by Corbis/AP.