The theater and the people who inhabit the world I really do like their superstitions and their traditions. Some of the more commonly known ones are things like not to whistle backstage or never say good luck before a performance but rather tell the actor to break a leg. These kinds of traditions are global in the theater realm.
A place like Broadway, one of the greatest places for theater in the world, shares in these traditions and superstitions. It also has a number of its own beliefs and practices the actors, directors and theater crews all swear by.
The Belasco Ghost
One of the top theaters in Broadway is the Belasco Theater. It is also one of the oldest theaters in the district and can be found at 111 West 44th Street. This theater was originally overseen by one David Belasco, who at the time was referred to as “The Bishop of Broadway”.
In the years since his passing, many actors and others who have worked at this theater believe they have seen a ghost, and most believe that it is Belasco himself ensuring that his theater continues to run properly. There are those who say they have seen this ghost either sitting in the balcony and watching a performance or wondering the lobbies in order to converse with patrons. Others believe that this is just the ghost of Thespis playing as he usually does in a theater.
The Gypsy Robe
This tradition is not very well known but it is part of the good luck rituals that pretty much all Broadway casts do before any show opens. The main cast and crew create a robe made of muslin and decorated with items from the previous season of shows. This robe is then presented to the chorus member with the most credits to their name in Broadway. It is done in a small private ceremony before opening night performance.
A new robe is created each season bearing mementos from each show in the previous season. As the current season grows, the robe is passed to a new person in the cast on the opening night of each show. It is the robe where is duty to add new trinkets from the current season so that it is able to make a help new robe in the new season coming.
The tradition of the Gypsy Robe started back in the 1950s, long before we could place election bets online. It got its name from the ensemble or chorus members often being referred to as gypsies in the Broadway circuit. This is because they tend to move from show to show more often than lead actors. The ceremony is attended by everyone involved in the production from the top producers and management through to the stagehands. It’s seen as a small moment of acknowledgement for all of the hard work put in to create the show and a moment to breathe as a single unit before opening the curtains and smiling for the audience.