Long after her sons, Phil '98 and Mike '00, graduated from Gill St. Bernard's School, Cherry Robinson continued building costumes for The GSB Players. Her first memory of sewing for Gill was when Mike was in the Lower School, and he overheard teachers talking about needing someone to work on the Memory Quilt. He said, "My mom sews," and that was the beginning of a two-decade-long "career" with Gill.
In 1994, Cherry was found in the former theater quietly constructing Paul Canada's costume designs for the spring 1995 musical, Once Upon a Mattress. According to Cherry, "This is how it worked: Paul would show me a sketch and say, 'I want this.' I would say, 'Okay, I can do that,' and then go home and hit the reference books to find out how. I am grateful for his inspiration and encouragement, not to mention starting me on a whole new interest, back when I was on a non-working visa and had time on my hands."
One could find Cherry ever-after devotedly sewing for each show – that is until 2004, when her family relocated to Williamsburg, Virginia. However, the move didn't keep her from helping. Designs and accompanying fabric would travel by mail to her home and magically return to campus as full-length ball gowns, military uniforms, capes, or a hooped skirt or two.
According to Paul, "I've worked with many professional seamstresses in my career, and Cherry's talents are nothing short of exceptional." Asked where she learned to sew, in her gentle British accent, she replied, "At my mum's knee." She would take the remaining scraps of fabric from the clothes her mother made and create doll clothing. As her skills developed she began making her own clothes and tailoring for others.
Cherry, her husband Eddie, and their boys remain committed to the work of the Theatre Department, including the bequeathing of a generous gift in 2018 to support the new GSB Performing Arts and Community Center by naming the Cherry Robinson Costume Shop. With the PACC's inaugural opening last year, Cherry returned to campus to sew costumes for Meet Me in St. Louis, and she traveled here again last week to construct designs for the upcoming March production of Pippin.
When asked why she devotes her time, talent, and resources to the performing arts at Gill, she said, "We always direct our philanthropic gifts to follow our interests." Along with her gift of sewing all these years, the Cherry Robinson Costume Shop now stands as part of her legacy in forever bringing costume designs to life at Gill.