She makes a difference behind the scenes — in the theatre and at the Brock Institute

On campus, Sandra “Sandy” Short is Office Coordinator for the M. Foscue Brock Institute for Community and Global Health. Off campus, she’s a costume designer for Virginia Musical Theatre and the Musical Theatre Department of the Governor’s School for the Arts. In 2018, she was honored with a BroadwayWorld Award, Central Virginia Region, for Best Costume Design for VMT’s production of “Kiss Me, Kate.”

  • How did you get involved in costume design? My daughter, Taylor, is an actor. In fact, she is starring as Velma Kelly in “Chicago” for VMT this season. She began performing in community theatre when she was 7. Since I knew how to sew, I volunteered with costuming. When we moved from Charlottesville to Norfolk so Taylor could attend the Governor’s School for the Arts, I began assisting with shows here. In 2013, I became the in-house costumer for the musical theatre department of the Governor’s School. I was the costume designer for VMT last season and will do so again this season. Our shows include “Cinderella,” “A Grand Night for Singing,” “Chicago” and “Mamma Mia.”
  • What do you enjoy most about it? I would have to say being a part of the creative process and bringing a show alive on stage in a way that’s both pleasing to the eye and period appropriate. There are so many things to consider. When did women begin wearing pierced earrings? Do the men need spats for their shoes? What is the appropriate waistline for gowns? Button or snap suspenders? Hairstyles and hats and gloves. You also have to consider quick changes: how to get a complex costume on and off an actor in a short period of time. Last season I had a 20-second full costume change. It’s an exciting process.
  • What’s your favorite show you’ve worked on? Last season, the Governor’s School performed the Tony Award-winning musical, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.” In that show, one actor plays all of the members of the D’Ysquith family — seven men and two women. The costume changes all occur within fractions of minutes. I also made seven Edwardian gowns for that production. It was my biggest challenge to date and my most satisfying success.
  • Do you make your own clothes? My mother gave me a Singer sewing machine for my 6th birthday so I could make Barbie doll clothes. I began making my own clothes when I was 11 or 12. I don’t have a lot of time to sew for myself these days, but I do a lot of sewing for my house: window treatments, bedding, custom furniture covers — that sort of thing.
  • Is there any connection between designing costumes and the work you do at EVMS? As a matter of fact, there is. In managing the day-to-day running of an office with several employees and very busy calendars, there are myriad details that have to be attended to in order that things run smoothly and efficiently. My work in the theatre is the same. In both cases, my focus is on the smallest details.
  • What are you most passionate about in your role at EVMS? The Brock Institute provides a focal point for integrating EVMS clinical, educational and research programs to fulfill its vision of being the most community-oriented school of medicine and health professions in the nation. On a daily basis, the work we do impacts the health of our community— from mental health initiatives to programs for maternal and infant health. It’s very fulfilling on all levels to be a small part of EVMS’ mission.