3 items from 2013
The theater business is nothing if not superstitious. But some opening night traditions are kept under wraps—robed, if you will. As another season of Broadway premieres draws to a close April 25 with the opening of “Pippin,” one of the Main Stem’s most cherished backstage rites connects this year’s casts to decades’ worth of their predecessors. On opening night of every Tony-eligible Broadway chorus musical, the cast, crew, producers, and box office team gather for the Gypsy Robe. Presented to the show’s ensemble member with the most Broadway chorus credits, the robe pays homage to gypsies—those cast members traveling show to show, following the work, slogging it in the ensemble. Endowed with the history of its Broadway predecessors, the robe brings luck to the new arrival. The tradition dates to the 1950 production of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” when dancer Bill Bradley used to steal cast mate Florence »
At 88, the consummate Broadway broad is giving up her apartment and moving home to Michigan. Here, a brief history of her life and career, along with some of our favorite quotes and anecdotes. 1942: Stritch, age 17, arrives in New York from Detroit to study acting at the New School. “My biggest dream was to get out of Michigan—to discover life beyond the Sacred Heart Convent.” Hung on to her virginity until age 30—but started drinking whiskey sours with Dad at 12. October 1946: Makes her first Broadway appearance in a flop called Loco.October 1950:Understudies Ethel Merman, another leggy honker, in Call Me Madam. “I love Richard Rodgers, but he was a nervous man … He once said, ‘Every time I see you do a number, I never believe you’ll be able to do it again.’” March 1955:Her breakout: Grace Hoylard, a sassy diner proprietress, in William Inge’s Bus Stop. »
- Rebecca Milzoff
We all know she seems ageless, but the legendary Broadway diva Chita Rivera turns 80 years old today (Jan. 23).
The "Queen of the Gypsies" made her stage debut in a touring production of "Call Me Madam" in 1951, and went on to create the iconic roles of Anita in "West Side Story," Rosie in "Bye Bye Birdie," Velma Kelly in "Chicago" and Aurora in "Kiss of the Spider Woman," among others.
As it turns out, Rivera -- a two-time Tony Award winner and a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient -- is still going strong, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. She's currently wowing crowds in the acclaimed Broadway revival of "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" in New York.
In honor of Rivera's milestone birthday, check out her most iconic moments below:
- Curtis M. Wong
3 items from 2013
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