Allen Robertson has joined summer Stock Austin for a fifth year—SSA’s 13th season. He has written and directed 5 shows including this year’s A Shoe Story: A Musical, which opens July 25th, 2017 (just next week!). We sat down with him in a Summer Stock Austin exclusive interview to see what makes him tick.
When asked what keeps him coming back to write for Summer Stock, Robertson overwhelmingly says, “The people. The amazing young artists. The experienced professionals. The audiences. The Long Center staff.” His co-writer for this production and others, Damon Brown (together they are The Biscuit Brothers), and he focus on writing shows with “stories that families can truly share together,” so that A Shoe Story is appropriate for any group of students as well as a special night out for parents—truly theatre meant for all!
This certainly rings true for this season’s new musical, filled with puns, rap battles, and clever one-liners, and points a finger at underlying issues that are relevant to us today. As a a musical comedy loosely based on the old tale of “The Elves and the Shoemaker,” in this retelling the elves are facing a civil war in their land and seek a safe haven across the border in a shoemaker’s shop. You soon learn that not everyone is welcoming of their arrival—caught in a tight spot between continued shoe-making success and helping her flooding town, the Shoemaker is facing some tough challenges of her own. “That’s the best part of writing,” says Robertson. “You get to put characters in tough situations, let them take action, and then see how it makes you feel.” Robertson says that the young performers of Summer Stock with whom he works influence his writing “in every way. They bring so much to the table—it makes me work harder to give them something that is worthy of their time, talent and intellect.”
The Long Center and all of Austin consider Allen Robertson a local hero. He splits his time between being a composer-performer with the Emmy Award-winning PBS team The Biscuit Brothers, and continuing the ever active music directing with ZACH Theatre and orchestrating for the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards (by the way, have you written down next year’s date, yet??).
“People and stories, for me,” says Robertson, talking about what drives him to keep making music. “Being a part of crafting something that can create an emotional response in the audience is still magical to me. Being on a team that crafts a series of words, notes, actions that can actually evoke joy, tears, fear, laughter. . . even awe in a complete stranger in the audiences. Magic.”
And don’t forget to catch the other two Summer Stock Austin productions this season, Monty Python’s Spamalot & Annie Get Your Gun! Going to all three shows? Be sure to get your tickets 10% off for attending as a Summer Stock season ticket holder. And check out our Theatre-For-All Day Camp for that full Shoe Story experience!