Theater News

Actors' Equity to Retire "Gypsy Robe" Name at the End of the Season

The opening night ritual, however, will go on.

Jeffrey Schechter receives a Gypsy Robe on opening night of Fiddler on the Roof.
Jeffrey Schecter receives a Gypsy Robe on opening night of Fiddler on the Roof.
(© David Gordon)

Actors' Equity Association has announced that the organization's National Council has voted to retire the name "Gypsy Robe" — the name of the ritual that occurs on the stage of every Broadway musical with a chorus on opening night before the audience is admitted — at the end of the current theater season. While the name will change, the ritual itself will continue next season.

The tradition, which began in 1950, occurs when the chorus member with the most Broadway chorus credits puts on the Robe and circles the stage three times while cast members reach out and touch the Robe for good luck. The recipient of the Robe then visits each dressing room to "bless" the show. A panel representing their show is then added to the Robe, which is passed on to a recipient in the next chorus musical that opens.

"When I think of the Robe, I think about the intent behind the tradition, which is meant to celebrate our members," said R. Kim Jordan, chair of the Equity's Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs, in a statement. "But the words we use have an impact beyond their intent, and we cannot appropriate someone else's identity without their voice attached to it. I'm proud that Council voted to retire the name while we continue the tradition of the Robe next season."

Equity members will be allowed to vote for a new name for the Robe here.