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"Legacy Robe" Voted as New Name for Broadway Chorus Tradition

Actors' Equity has officially changed the moniker of its decades-old tradition.

A scene from Head Over Heels, the first Broadway show set to hold the newly renamed "Legacy Robe" ceremony.
(© Joan Marcus)

Actors' Equity Association has announced that a new name has been chosen for the tradition formerly known as the "Gypsy Robe." Moving forward, the Robe and tradition will be referred to as the "Legacy Robe."

The name change came following a multi-step process that included a vote of Equity's National Council, and recommendations from Equity's Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs and National Equal Employment Opportunity Committee. Following that, members voted on the name change in a survey.

The tradition is one that occurs on opening night of every Broadway chorus musical, during which the Robe is given to the Chorus member who has worked the most Broadway chorus contracts. The Robe recipient then 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 decorative panel representing their show is then sewn onto the Robe, which is passed on to a recipient in the next chorus musical that opens.

"The Legacy Robe reminds us why our tradition exists," said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors' Equity. "It emphasizes the history of Chorus performers, their years of dedication and hard work and just how essential they are to every Broadway musical. The ceremony on opening night will go on like it has for years, and I look forward to celebrating another season's long serving Chorus performers with recognition of their professionalism as they receive the Legacy Robe."

Press materials from Actors' Equity state: "While the original name was intended by members to be an honorific, the name change was made to recognize that the usage of the former name no longer has that impact, but is instead insensitive. As a Union for actors and stage managers, Equity has an obligation to lead by example on this issue."

The next presentation of the Legacy Robe will take place on July 26 at the Hudson Theatre, where the musical Head Over Heels will open.