The Gypsy Robe Ceremony
Behind the scenes of a Broadway production is a world entirely unknown to the regular theatergoer. Among the many things that are involved backstage are the secret traditions and rituals that spice the lives of the working people involved in theater and Broadway. One magical and exquisite ritual that has remained under the radar for over 40 years is called the "Gypsy Robe Ceremony." And now it has been brought to JCompany Youth Theatre.
On opening night of a show the entire cast and crew gather on stage one hour before curtain time. With the doors locked, a "gypsy" or ensemble performer stands in the center of a large circle, wearing a multicolored and adorned robe. One member of the cast, smiling sheepishly, moves to the center of the circle to the applause of everyone around him. He gives a half wave and accepts the robe from the gypsy. He then runs counter clockwise around the circle three times as everyone around him cheers.
What exactly does this strange and exciting event symbolize? The Gypsy Robe Ceremony was started in 1959. Bill Bradly, a member of the cast of "Gypsy," borrowed a robe from the chorus and sent it to a friend for "good luck." This friend passed on the robe who then passed it on to more of the chorus. The symbolic transfer of the robe was supposed to endow its recipients with the luck that all Broadway members need to succeed.
This tradition of passing the robe continues today for every Broadway show on opening night. With the theater community steeped in superstition and adherence to "tradition," the ceremony remains an integral part of the opening of any show. The gypsy, a chorus member who exudes dedication and professionalism, maintains an almost mythical aura. It is the wearer of the robe who spreads luck to the production; he/she must visit all of the dressing rooms and "bless" the show and all of its members.
Whether or not you believe in the power of the gypsy robe, it constitutes a tie to the historical significance of camaraderie and tradition in the theatre community. It also solidifies the bond between everyone who has brought a show into being, from the smallest techie to the biggest star.
The JCompany Gypsy Robe Tradition began under the Artistic Direction of Joey Landwehr during JCompany's production of Gypsy in 2013 and has continued ever since.
JCompany Youth Theatre Gypsy Robe Honorees
2016 - 2017 Season: Epic Quests
Ragtime, May 2017 - Reagan Scott
Willy Wonka, Jr., March 2017 - Eli Chang
The Wiz, January 2017 - Dani Starr
Disney's Aladdin, Jr., September 2016 - Riley Hull
2015 - 2016 Season: Bringing Great Stories to Life!
Once on this Island, May 2016 - Liana Steinberg-Casper
Annie Warbucks, February 2016 - Bar Sagiv
Seussical, January 2016 - Maya Ordonez Landsberg
Disney's Mary Poppins, October 2015 - Sarah Shapiro
2014 - 2015 Season: Forever Families
West Side Story, May 2015 - Ariella Markus
ANNIE, March 2015 - Jessica Gillman (Example Cast) & Reese Reckles (Willingness Cast)
The Pirates of Penzance, January 2015 - Jessie McConville
The Pirates of Penzance, October 2014 - Emma Kirsch
Disney's Peter Pan, May 2014 – Kelly Rubin
2013 - 2014 Season: The Streisand Season
The Little Mermaid, December 2013 – Kennedy Anderson
Shrek: The Musical,October 2013 – Gavin Hamby
Hello, Dolly!, May 2013 - Melina Rabin
Gypsy, March 2013 - Danya Greenberg