Updated Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Andrea Lynn Allen had a way with teens — hard-to-reach, at-risk youths with whom she quickly established a rapport in her role as education director at Seattle Repertory Theatre.
"There was something about teenagers and their way of being in the world and how you could engage with it that was important to her," said Allen's husband, Matthew Smucker. "Her father passed away when she was in sixth grade, so there was a lot wrapped up in Andrea's own life that impacted her relationship with that age group."
Ms. Allen lost a yearlong battle with breast cancer on Nov. 15 in Seattle. She was 45.
A Yale University grad who later earned a master's degree in education from Antioch University, she reached young people in part through her sardonic sense of humor.
Her humor was "certainly filled with love," Smucker said. "But she could cut through a level of BS and get to the heart of a matter in a funny way, sharp and sarcastic but not mean."
The couple met in the mid-1990s at Seattle's Annex Theatre, which Ms. Allen helped run from 1989 to 1998.
"I had just moved here, and Andrea was becoming Annex's artistic director," recalled Smucker, now a set designer. "I made her some funny food props for a show, and that was the way to win her heart."
An active director (most recently of "Circle Mirror Transformation" at Seattle Rep), Allen focused most on turning young people on to theater arts. She joined with others to develop a program for teachers called Bringing Theatre into the Classroom.
Another favorite project she initiated was GirlSpeak. "It was aimed at young girls, kids in alternative, at-risk school settings, dropouts and teenage mothers," Smucker said. "Andrea took their stories and helped them turn them into theater pieces."
In 2007, Ms. Allen gave birth to twin boys she doted on, Ulysses and Finnegan. During a family vacation in Australia, she fell in love with snorkeling and it became a favorite pursuit.
Diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2011, she kept working at the Rep until her death.
"She was funny, clear-eyed, passionate about what she did in her life and wanted to do," Smucker said. "She had hope and optimism in the face of big challenges and could switch from a very funny, sarcastic comment to philosophical thoughts on what was happening to her."
Besides her husband and sons, survivors include her mother, Connie Allen, of Maine; and brothers Scott Allen, of Massachusetts, and Todd Allen, of New Hampshire.
A memorial will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, at Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St.
In lieu of flowers, her family encourages donations to the Andrea Allen Memorial College Fund at any U.S. Bank branch for her sons' education, and to Seattle Repertory Theatre to help sustain its education programs.