BROADWAY LEGACY ROBE
On the opening night of every Broadway musical since 1950,
a "Legacy Robe" (previously, a "Gypsy Robe") is transferred
to the company by a chorus member of the last show that
opened on Broadway. An Equity representative acts as "MC",
including reciting the history of the ritual, and sometimes asks
cast members making their Broadway debut to introduce themselves.
Chorus members - singers and dancers - are known as "Gypsies"
because they move from show-to-show. The robe is "given" to the
chorus member with the most Broadway credits, who represents
the entire chorus.
The ceremony happens just before the audience is let in. Cast
members, stage managers, creative staff and designers - really,
everyone who has worked on the show - gather on stage in a circle.
There is some speechifying by cast and chorus. After the robe is
passed along, the recipient runs counter-clockwise inside the circle
three times so cast members can touch the robe for good luck -
always a premium in any show. The emotion is an added
ingredient to the already charged feelings of opening night.
The first Robe came from the production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,
then went to Call Me Madam, where the first decoration - a feathered
rose from Ethel Merman's costume - was attached. That robe then
was passed onto a chorus member in Guys and Dolls. And so it goes.
Each show adds a momento to the robe until it is completely covered,
then it is retired and a new robe is built. Retired robes live at one of
four institutions: The Smithsonian in Washington D.C., The Museum
of the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, or at The Museum of the
City of New York, or at Actor's Equity.
These photos were taken at the opening of Soul Doctor in August, 2013.