You watched the Tony Awards this month. But do you know which chorus member of your favorite Broadway musical received the “Gypsy Robe”?
CBS correspondent Mo Rocca went behind the scenes to interview more than a dozen of Broadway’s “gypsies,” or the members of Broadway’s ensemble casts who support the lead actors.
The segment aired on CBS Sunday Morning, and those interviews are now online – along with a piece focusing on the legendary Gypsy Robe, a patchwork of mementos given to the chorus line member of a Broadway show who has the most credits on opening night. The storied tradition, captured on video for CBS, has its origins in the 1950 production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
The performers interviewed come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some of them are new to the Broadway stage, while others have been there for decades. One of those performers is Broadway icon Chita Rivera, best known for portraying Anita in Jerome Robbins’s West Side Story.
“I am a fanatic about this gypsy thing,” she said, “because I deeply believe you cannot have the kind of understanding you should have for the theatre if you don’t go through that rank, if you don’t go through that line, if you don’t work with these gypsies, these kids who work so hard.”
Broadway veteran Richard Korthaze, whose credits include Anything Goes, Take Me Along and Chicago, spoke of the camaraderie among Broadway’s gypsies.
“It’s like a family of – I don’t know the term – a family of gypsies,” he said, “who are always, more or less, together in one way or another, either working or taking classes or auditioning.”
When asked if she wanted to be a star, Jessica Bishop, seen in Phantom of the Opera, hesitated. “I want to work,” she said with a laugh. “The goal for me has never been to ‘be a star.’ It’s just to work in this industry.”