A Broadway Gypsy is a person in the chorus or ensemble of a musical. They usually travel from show to show working in the ensemble thus the name "gypsy" and is therefore an integral part of a show. The Gypsy Robe is usually given to the chorus member of a new musical that has the most Broadway credits. The ceremony is usually done an hour before the curtain rises on opening night......before the audience comes in the theatre. The whole cast of the show gathers onstage as the robe is presented to the winner who then circles the stage (counter clockwise) 3x with the cast touching the robe for good luck. The winner/new member then goes to all the dressing rooms and blesses them. What's really special I think is that the robe is passed on by the gypsy winner of 1 show to the next one that opens and each winner would attach to the robe a momento from their show (just check out the pic above.....can you spot momentos from Nine and Moving Out?). But what a great way to celebrate camaraderie in theatre!
The robes themselves have been considered works of art and may be seen in the Smithsonian, Lincoln Center Library of the Performing Arts or the Museum of the City of NY. And the history of the ceremony has been as fascinating as the colorful robes. Some notable theatre names of today such as Manoel Felciano (Brooklyn), Megan Sikora (Dracula), Milena Govich (Good Vibrations)...yes of Law and Order fame...have won the robes in those aformentioned musicals. Hey, even Liza Minelli has won the gypsy robe (check out her interview in the ShowBusiness Dvd). Check out the Gypsy Stories for a list of winners throught the years!
Above photo from Actors' Equity