by Brendon Stimson
I had always dreamed of one day being a Gypsy Robe recipient, as I have always loved and respected being a part of an Ensemble in the Broadway community. I’ve always been someone who pours literally everything I have into a show, you can even ask any company I’ve worked with and I’m typically the sweatiest person in the room. I take a great amount of pride in what an ensemble stands for in any Broadway show, but in this show of Mean Girls especially. We’re all individual but the dynamics balance us all out to create this high school world (still pass for high school age, what?) and has made such a family group that I respect to the highest degree.
I remember all of us gathering as a company after doing our typical Casey Nicholaw warmup together of running a number with everyone to get ourselves pumped up and all on the same page and in the mind of the show. Seeing David Westphal in all his exuberance for Broadway welcoming us all to the Gypsy Robe ceremony for our opening night and bringing out our 13 Broadway debuts to the center of the circle, so much joy. Other legends and colleagues I had worked with in the past stepping forward as former honorees of the Robe including Curtis Holbrook, whom I had the chance to do West Side Story with back in 2009. I looked up to him then and still do now as a performer and just a straight up dude. Even Casey stepped forward as a Gypsy Robe honoree!
To share and be part of this group now is such a special feeling. Then as Katie Webber read the speech given at every ceremony (which I had the honor of giving to Carousel’s opening to my good pal Jess LeProtto) dating back on how the Gypsy Robe was created and the tradition it has had since 1950 was the true testament of how long this ceremony has been going on.
The moment Katie Webber (whom I was privileged to work with in Honeymoon in Vegas) said my name to hand off the Gypsy Robe, I just remember a culmination of something I’ve been working towards for the past decade of working professionally. It was this wash of validation of my training, my choice to do this for a career, and that it was met with such love and fervor from my cast was something I will not soon forget. To be part of this tradition is an honor and among some of my favorite and most respected members of the ensemble community is beyond words for me!