AEA to Honor African-American Chorus Actors

News   AEA to Honor African-American Chorus Actors
In celebration of Black History Month, Actors' Equity Association will present The Gypsy Robe – In "Our" Time, a performance/salute to African-American chorus actors and the Gypsy Robe tradition, on Feb. 12 at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

The cast will include Vanessa Ayers, Nikki Renee Daniels, Ramòn Flowers, Tim Hunter, Judine Somerville, and Brynn Williams — all of whom have received the Gypsy Robe — an opening night tradition in choruses of Broadway musicals.

The event — staged by A. Wellington Perkins and written by Pi Douglass and A. Wellington Perkins — will celebrate the African-American chorus actors who have received the Gypsy Robe and the contributions these actors have made to the American theatre.

According to press notes, "The Gypsy Robe tradition began in 1950 when Bill Bradley, a chorus dancer in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, borrowed a dressing robe from fellow dancer Florence Baum. He sent it to a chorus dancer in Call Me Madam, starring Ethel Merman, on the musical's opening night, saying the gown was worn by all the Ziegfeld beauties and would bless their show. A cabbage rose from one of Ms. Merman's gowns was added to the robe and sent to the next chorus musical, Guys and Dolls on its opening night. Today, a ceremony is held on stage before the performance and the Gypsy Robe is awarded to a member of the chorus who has the most Broadway chorus shows to their credit on opening night. The event draws cast, crew and well wishers from other shows, as well as the most recent recipient, who bestows the robe to the new winner."

The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7 PM at the library's Bruno Walter Auditorium. A reception will be held following the performance. The evening is presented in conjunction with the League of Professional Theater Women.

The Bruno Walter Auditorium is at 111 Amsterdam Ave at 65th Street. Reservations are required by Feb. 9 and can be made by calling Equity at 212-869-8530 ext. 399 or by email at

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