Saturday, June 24, 2006

CAMP BROADWAY and The Gypsy Robe!

We just got our first CAMP BROADWAY mailing yesterday! How exciting! All sorts of juicy details for the week long program (the kids will be seeing a matinee of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE -- too cool!).

This year the musical they will be putting on is ONCE UPON A MATTRESS! One of the coolest things in the package is a square of green fabric that is to be decorated for the CAMP BROADWAY Gypsy Robe.

This year the CAMP BROADWAY Gypsy Robe is designed by two-time Tony Award-winning Broadway costume designer, Martin Pakledinaz. The robe, which has been built by Grace Costumes, Inc. a Broadway costume shop, travels the country with CAMP BROADWAY during the summer. In every city they visit, the campers have the opportunity to participate in the magic of the Gypsy Robe tradition by pinning their own swatch of fabric onto the robe.

What is the Gypsy Robe Broadway Tradition?

From this article on the Actors' Equity Association Web site:

The ritual of passing the Gypsy Robe from musical to musical on opening night is one of the American Theatre's most colorful and endearing traditions. In the musical theatre, a "gypsy" is a dancer and/or singer, male or female, who is hired for the chorus of a Broadway show. Many of these multi-talented performers work often, moving quickly from musical to musical: hence the name "gypsy."

The ritual of the Gypsy Robe began as a good-natured gag in 1950 when CALL ME MADAM, starring Ethel Merman, opened on Broadway. GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES was New York's longest-running smash hit of that day. Hoping to relieve some of the opening night jitters of the cast of CALL ME MADAM, a dancer in the company of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES sent a tacky dressing gown to a friend dancing in CALL ME MADAM with a note that this "legendary gypsy robe" had been in the theatre for generations and brought with it great good luck. CALL ME MADAM opened to unanimous raves and, with it, a Broadway tradition was born. A rose from Ms. Merman's gown was added to the robe before it was sent to the next Broadway musical's opening night.

Today, the passing of the Gypsy Robe is an eagerly anticipated ritual of the opening night of a Broadway musical. At "half-hour", the time by which the cast must report to the theatre for the evening's performance, the robe is delivered to the company by the previous recipient. Before the audience arrives, cast members gather on stage for its presentation to the "gypsy" with the most Broadway chorus credits. The gypsy then walks around the stage three times, giving the entire company a chance to touch the robe for luck, before visiting each dressing room.

Sounds like a blast! And it's good to know that the typical $10 million Broadway show investment is protected by such a rigorus procedure...

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