Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gypsy Robe





These are not the future of New York fashion, although, I think my grandmother once bought me something like the one on the bottom for Christmas one year; these are Gypsy Robes.

I had chalk in my pocket and I was distracted. I was breezing through the Performing Arts Library thinking about getting my hands on this particular book that synchronicity keeps pushing in my face. I won't say it now. I'll let you know if it changes my life.

I was listening to the music they were piping into the gallery exhibition in the library. Songs from A Chorus Line. Ethel Merman. I was being transported back to Junior High Drama Club. I was thinking I needed to get out SOON. As I ambled along, I came upon something encased in glass and padlocked to the ground. It was made out of everything but the kitchen sink, had the tail of a sea creature, the blue hood of a fairyland princess, and a boat. Yes, a boat.

I circled the glass case until I found the tag explaining just what in Abraham's name (Remember Abraham?)I was looking at.

The Gypsy Robe is one more example of how the theater is unlike any profession in the world. The Gypsy Robe was put into existence by Bill Bailey fifty years ago. A friend of his was in the chorus of Call Me Madam and nervous about his opening night so, Bill Bailey, as a good luck charm, gave him a pink robe the he had been given on his opening night of Gentleman Prefer Blondes. A Broadway tradition was born.

Now, it is given on opening night to the chorus member with the most stage credits. That performer is then obligated to attach a memento from their show, to the robe, before passing it along to the next "Gypsy" or Chorus member.

When the Gypsy Robe is full it is retired and is housed in Lincoln Center or in the Smithsonian. The one I was seeing was the 7th generation Gypsy Robe, started in 1979.

I sat with that robe for the better part of the time I was in the library. I got outside and it was still too wet to use my chalk. Too bad, too. After seeing the Gypsy Robe I felt like everything could use some color and luck.

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