Photo by John Shore

Adele Robey

Graphic designer Adele Robey and her husband Bruce Robey were instrumental in early efforts to develop the Atlas Theater on H Street NE. They went on to found the H Street Playhouse (2001-2012) and from 1999 to 2010 published the Voice of the Hill, a local print newspaper.

In 2012, Adele bought and incorporated the Anacostia Playhouse. She was active in its management until 2022. A resident of Capitol Hill since 1975, Adele was a founding member of the Theater Alliance of Washington, the non-profit professional theater now in residence at the Anacostia Playhouse. Also part of the singing group the Jaynettes, Adele took part in the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop musicals that began in the 1980s. In this interview she traces the development of community and professional theater on Capitol Hill and in other parts of Washington, as well as the changes she has seen in the graphic arts profession.

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Interview Date
May 20, 2022
Randy Norton
Betsy Barnett
Elizabeth Lewis

Full Directory

Interview with Adele Robey
Interview Date: May 20, 2022
Interviewer: Randy Norton
Transcriber: Betsy Barnett
Editor:     Elizabeth Lewis

Photo by John Shore

This interview transcript is the property of the Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project.
Not to be reproduced without permission.

NORTON: This is Randy Norton interviewing Adele Robey on May 20, 2022, a quarter after 2:00 pm at her residence 1340 Valley Place SE, Washington, DC. Good morning.
ROBEY: Good morning. Good afternoon.
NORTON: Oh, well, that’s true. It is good afternoon.
ROBEY: Um-hmm. [Laughs]
NORTON: All right. I’m going to start out with basic questions.
ROBEY: Okay.
NORTON: Where were you born?
ROBEY: Tulsa, Oklahoma.
NORTON: Really. How did you end up in the DC.area?
ROBEY: My dad took a job here at the National Bureau of Standards, which is now NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology]. I don’t even remember what it stands for anymore, but it was the National Bureau of Standards then and it was on Van Ness Street NW.
NORTON: Okay. And how old were you when you moved to DC ?
ROBEY: I was going into tenth grade. I was fourteen.
NORTON: So, where did you live before that?
ROBEY: Philadelphia.
NORTON: Okay. So why don’t you walk me through Oklahoma to Philadelphia to here.
ROBEY: Okay. [Laughs] Oklahoma was because my grandparents lived there, my mom’s folks. My parents were actually living in Chicago at the time and my mother went back to Tulsa to have me and then immediately left Tulsa, as all intelligent people do. [Laughs] She was not a Tulsa girl, let’s just put it that way. She went back to Chicago and I guess my dad was in Northwestern [University] at the time after the war. He had gone in the Navy for the war. And he had some job offers and they flipped a coin and ended up in Philadelphia because he had an offer from DuPont. He was a scientist. And so he could go to graduate school in Philadelphia and work at DuPont.
NORTON: And how old were you when you moved to Philly?
ROBEY: I was a baby.
NORTON: Okay. And then you lived there how long?
ROBEY: Until I was 14.
NORTON: And then you moved up here [to Washington].
ROBEY: Mm-hmm.
NORTON: Okay. And where did you live when you came to DC?
ROBEY: Upper Northwest.
NORTON: All right. Where in upper Northwest?
ROBEY: Specifically, Ingomar Street was where my folks rented a house because they didn’t know where they wanted to buy. So they had this great house. It was a great house. And I lived there. I went to Wilson [Woodrow Wilson High School, renamed Jackson-Reed High School in 2022], which is probably going to [be] one of your next questions.
NORTON: Yes. So, you went all the way through Wilson?
ROBEY: Yeah, but it was only 10th, 11th, and 12th [grades] then.
ROBEY: And it was walkable from that house. And then, after that, my folks actually bought a house on Albemarle Street, which was where they lived until they died. So, yeah.
NORTON: So, where did you go to school after that? I mean, obviously you graduated from Wilson.
ROBEY: After Wilson?
ROBEY: University of Pennsylvania.
NORTON: All right. And what was your degree?
ROBEY: Art history.
NORTON: There you go. [Interviewee laughs] And after you graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, what happened next?
ROBEY: Okay. I went to work for ... Well, I always forget this part. I first went to New York and actually worked for an ad agency on Madison Avenue, BBDO [Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn]. And BBDO was not putting women in any kind of responsible jobs at that time, and I marched myself into my boss and said, “I want to be in that program that all these guys are in. I’ve got an Ivy League degree.” And I was told “Those [jobs] aren’t for women.” [Laughs] So, yeah.
NORTON: Well  what sort of job were you pushing for?
ROBEY: Well I would say in advertising it’s all about the account. So, it was account rep training or something, you know. We’re talking about accounts like Pepsi and Burger King and all of these. They were the big, huge agency. Still are. And I said, “Well, I’m going to make some noise.” And they said, “Go ahead. There’s 120,000 girls waiting to take your job.” So, I stuck it out for a while and then came back here.
NORTON: When are we talking about? What year?
ROBEY: 1970.
NORTON: Okay. Which is when you graduated from college.
ROBEY: Yeah. I was the Class of ’69 but I took a year off in the middle.
NORTON: Okay, all right. So, you’re now a graphic artist but you weren’t doing any graphic art, or were you, for the ad agency?
ROBEY: No. Uh uh,. I wouldn’t have been allowed near there. No. Are you kidding me? That was, number one, all men. Everything was all men then. Everything, really. I had to take a typing test to get that. And I got allowed in with typing 40 words a minute. [Laughs] Oh, my god.
NORTON: All right. So what happened when you came down to DC?
ROBEY: I went to work for a printer, a print shop. My mother was a commercial artist. That’s what they called them then. And, so, I grew up, like, under her drawing board and near her drawing board and around all of that.  She did—well, back then, she would have been a Photoshop champ because she was an airbrush champ and that she did in longhand, you know.
ROBEY: I still have her airbrush. Not a clue as to what to do with it. In Philadelphia, she had done that at a print shop. And she came here and she connected with a partner and they set up a studio in Thomas Circle. And she was there for years and her partner—they became very good friends. The families became friends. And so, she knew everybody in the business. So she got me this job for this printer, which is where I learned my job. [Laughs]
NORTON: That and at your mother’s knee, I guess.
ROBEY: Yeah. Art history did not prepare me for anything. It was just sort of what you did, you know. I should have gone to art school, you know, or almost anything else. But I didn’t. So  [it] made my dad happy to go to Penn. So.
NORTON: And do you remember who it was you worked for, your first job?
ROBEY: Oh, yeah. It was an outfit called Council Press [EH3]in Bladensburg.
NORTON: And what’d you do for them?
ROBEY: I set up their art department, about which I knew nothing, and just blustered my way through. I was the only woman. No, there was a receptionist, I guess. She was a woman. And I just had to take it on the chin from a lot of guys, but give it back as hard as they gave it to me. And I’m still friends with several of them. It was the only way to survive. They would eat you alive.
NORTON: How long were you there?
ROBEY: Four years, I guess. No, maybe five. Until Julia [Robey] was born or right before Julia was born. Because I was under the health insurance plan so the birth got covered. [Laughs] And then I went into business for myself.
NORTON: All right. And where does Bruce [Robey, Adele’s husband] fit in, in all of this?
ROBEY: That’s where I met him.
NORTON: At the printing company?
ROBEY: Mm-hmm.
NORTON: Okay. Was he working there?
ROBEY: Mm-hmm.
NORTON: Okay. And so Julia was born and you were still working for the printing company then.
ROBEY: I quit three months out or a couple of months out, enough so that when she was born, I was still covered enough to get the birth covered.
NORTON: Were you required to quit when you were about to deliver?
ROBEY: No. Then Julia was born. 1976.
NORTON: Okay. And did you have a job then?
ROBEY: Hmm-mm, I was working at home. And, actually, the printing company gave me a fair amount of work, you know. So they became a client along with some of the clients that the print shop had that I’d been doing work for when I was with the print shop.
ROBEY: So, I collected—and I actually to this day have a couple [clients] that I had back then. Yeah, really. One specific newsletter, oh, my god, I can’t imagine how many of them I’ve done, but a lot, substantial.
NORTON: So what was the name of your company? I mean, was it just Adele Robey or was it …
ROBEY: Well, we did incorporate when Bruce decided—when we decided to actually get an office outside the house. And he quit. He was working for a different printing company at that point and he quit so we could do something, you know, to make a living. So, we opened a typesetting graphics company called Robey Graphics.
NORTON: And when was that?
ROBEY: Oh, god.
NORTON: Well, it’s all right. How long after Julia was born I guess is …
ROBEY: Within the year, probably.
ROBEY: You know. Because we got Julia—went into getting babysat at nine months old. I remember, because Toby Jayne [a mutual local friend] was there …
NORTON: At the babysitter’s?
ROBEY: …  as a little baby. Yeah, that’s where.
NORTON: Now, when did you move to Capitol Hill?
ROBEY: ’75.
NORTON: So, it would have been before Julia was born.
ROBEY: Correct.
NORTON: Okay. Where’d you live then?
ROBEY: At South Carolina and Kentucky. 1319 South Carolina Avenue [SE].
NORTON: Okay. How long did you live there?
ROBEY: Must have been probably four or five years, I guess. And then we had one of our offices—we had a lot of offices up on Pennsylvania Avenue as things came—you know, we moved around a little bit. And Dale Denton [Real Estate] was up there …
NORTON: His office was up there.
ROBEY: Was up there. And I had office space on his second floor. [EH4]They were in the basement; I was on their first floor basically. And, one day they came up—they knew that we were looking because our house was small and we had a baby and, you know [the house was] just too small. And they said, “We have the house for you and it’s on Eighth Street SE.” I said, “We’ll never be able to afford Eighth Street SE.” And it turned out it was a rooming house, as many of them were. And there was a guy named Otis Murphy who all through the probably late ‘40s and the ‘50s just bought these houses, all these [houses]—A Street SE, Eighth Street SE, all around the Eastern Market, you know—bought them for $10,000 or $15,000 and partitioned them and rented them out. And that’s what we got.
NORTON: And that was the, what, the 100 block of Eighth Street?
ROBEY: Yeah, 111. And we were there for 20 years. And that’s where we met everybody, when we were in that house. And it needed everything, including one of the renters was still there and would not leave. [Laughs] Even after settlement. And,so,we turned off the heat.
NORTON: [Laughs] Self-help.
ROBEY: It was the only thing we could do because Otis was of no help whatsoever. And this guy had been a hoarder, so—oh, my god, you have no idea.
NORTON: What did you all have to do to fix the place up?
ROBEY: Oh, god. Everything, literally everything. But it was a great house and the good thing was that Otis had built these walls and it protected all of the original woodwork. So, we had all that wonderful, never-painted 1908 woodwork and pocket doors and, you know, all of that good stuff.
NORTON: So, all you had to do was take down the, you know, the faux stuff.
ROBEY: Oh, yeah, yeah. We had to have all the floors done and the kitchen had to be totally ripped out. I mean there were mice, there were bugs, there were—you know. And people were saying, “How can you let your little girl run around in this?” She was perfectly happy, nothing ever happened to her, you know. [Both laugh] She was fine. But it was just—it was a wonderful house. It was, you know, where Julia grew up and we met you guys [Linda and Randell Norton] and every other couple on Capitol Hill who had a couple of kids who were getting ready to all go to the same school.
NORTON: So, now, you and Bruce by that time were working together with Robey Graphics?
ROBEY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
NORTON: And you talk about having several offices. I mean, why don’t you list a few of them.
ROBEY: Well, after Pennsylvania Avenue where we had two or three of them, one of them owned by the Mangialardos. If you remember Mangialardo’s, which is still …
NORTON: Still there.
ROBEY: … making subs, like the third generation (Mangialardo & Sons, 1371 Pennsylvania Avenue SE) . And, then, Dale [Denton] came and said, “Oh, I have another place for you.” So, we moved up the street. So, we had three of them [offices]. But then we moved to—and I can’t remember who found it for us or how we kind of lucked into getting it—the Citibank building.
NORTON: Yeah, at the corner of G and Eighth [800 G Street SE].[EH6]
ROBEY: G and Eighth, right. And we were there for, like, four years of a five year lease and then the fabulous landscape architects Oehme, van Sweden came in and bought our lease out because they wanted the building. And we were happy. We never had any money, so that gave us some money to go across the street and rent from Steve and Nicky [Cymrot].
ROBEY: Okay? The Cymrots.
NORTON: Across Eighth?
ROBEY: Across Eighth and down a little bit, you know. By the—well, it’s been a lot of things. It was at one point a Louisiana restaurant. Oh, what was it? Swiss and then Louisiana …
NORTON: Was that the one where the …
ROBEY: A cowboy dance one.
NORTON: The Swiss one was The Broker.
ROBEY: It was The Broker, wasn’t it? Was that on Eighth Street there? [713 Eighth St. SE]
NORTON: Yeah, and it was on the block right across from the Marine Barracks.
ROBEY: Exactly. Yes. And, then, it turned into something else and I think that’s because—we never ate in it as The Broker.
NORTON: That was a special occasion kind of place.
ROBEY: A total special occasion. That’s why we never got there. [Laughs] We had special occasions but they were usually, you know, celebrated with Ripple. And, so, we were in the bottom of one of Steve and Nicky’s spaces, storefronts there.
And, then, what happened? Oh, yeah, we were ensconced in the typesetting business and graphics business. I mean, we were in national organizations and, you know, doing the whole thing you do. And, then, literally, Apple came along and put the typesetting business out of business.
One by one, knocked them down with those stupid ads that said, “Even your secretary can do this at her desk!” Do your newsletter, whatever. And that ended the typesetting business. And it was all computerized then. We weren’t sitting there with hot lead stuff, you know.
NORTON: No, I do remember, you know, Bruce always particularly was, you know, cutting edge on the computer stuff and he sort of …
ROBEY: Yeah, and programming. And he did work for one of the outfits whose equipment we used. So, he went to work for them for a while, selling them, but he also did programming for them. He was really great at translating. Back then you had to know how to translate a word processing thing into something that the typesetting thing would read. He loved it. He was very good at it. But that was kind of short lived because then big companies came along and simplified stuff and made it all more streamlined.
NORTON: And then typesetting went out of business.
ROBEY: And then typesetting was gone. I mean, we still got it and we still had the big thing, but we closed that down. We had ten people working for us but we closed it and …
NORTON: So, you actually had the typesetting and the printing and all that stuff.
ROBEY: We didn’t have the printing but we had the typesetting and the layout, you know. We had two or three layout artists and people typing, you know. There were PCs that then ran a big typesetting machine.
NORTON: The PCs, personal computers.
ROBEY: Yeah, yeah, exactly. That’s when typesetting sort of switched over from dedicated terminals into big, ginormous computers. We had one. It was like a big old refrigerator that had this much memory in it, you know.
NORTON: Do you remember roughly when that was, when typesetting, when it went away?
ROBEY: It would have to have been—I started this current iteration of myself as a solo graphic artist in the 90s. So, it would have been before that.
ROBEY: Probably early 90s is what I’m thinking, because it was really going away at that point.
NORTON: All right. So why don’t you just sort of walk me through your business here as typesetting is pooping out.
ROBEY: Well, then I rented—I can’t remember what Bruce decided to do at that point. I don’t know. He was doing software programming and …
NORTON: He was doing a lot of stuff, doing a lot of photography I remember.
ROBEY: Yeah, yeah. He was a jack of all trades and picking up bucks where he could. And, then, I rented, in the same building, I think, that we were [renting] from Steve and Nicky [Cymrot], an office upstairs. It was just, you know, two rooms and a little kitchenette. And worked up there. I was working with a guy who had worked with us in typesetting and I had known from years past in the printing trade, knew his father. And, then, we split up from there. And I think it was when two things caused me to go set up at home. One was my parents were dying. That took a year. So I was going to Northwest [Washington] every day to cook and manage that.
NORTON: And that would have been roughly when?
ROBEY: Well, they died in ’94, so it was …
NORTON: A year or so before that.
ROBEY: Yeah. It was. And, also, I got broken into in that office and it freaked me out, because what they did was they punched a hole in the wall board so they could reach into the office and undo the deadbolt. And then they sat and drank and ate out of the refrigerator and left that mess. That’s what creeped me out. And I called Nicky and I said, “I can’t stay here. I’ve got to go. You know. I can’t come back in this room, it’s too freaky.” And, so, I went home and Bruce and I kind of cobbled the basement together into a work space and we worked there until ’98, which was when we bought the house on 11th Street [SE].
ROBEY: And Julia was in college, you know, and we had this opportunity to get that house for a ridiculous price but it also needed everything ...
NORTON: You were saying the house on 11th Street. Weren’t you in the house on 11th Street? I’m sorry, I was …
ROBEY: No, no. We didn’t go to the house on 11th Street until ’98 after I’d been working at home.
NORTON: And you were where before that house?
ROBEY: South Carolina Avenue.
NORTON: Oh, right, right, right. Okay, okay.
ROBEY: South Carolina Avenue early for a few years, long span of time in Eighth Street …
NORTON: Right, Eighth Street. That’s what it was. Sure, I remember Eighth Street.
ROBEY: Five years on 11th Street.
NORTON: I’m blanking on—right, I remember.
ROBEY: And in 11th Street we had that wonderful carriage house that we set that up as our office. And that’s where the idea for Voice of the Hill came from.
NORTON: Okay, okay. All right. I will ask you about that, but, then, so, how long did you stay—you’re still doing graphic art stuff. And, so, you …
ROBEY: Yeah. It keeps food on the table.
NORTON: Well, there you go. And you do it out of your house now.
ROBEY: Yeah. Upstairs.
NORTON: And it’s been that way since, you know, you left Nicky’s place, right? Okay.
ROBEY: Pretty much, although when I had the theater here, I had my computer there and I multitasked.
NORTON: Okay. That would be the Anacostia Playhouse …
ROBEY: Correct.
NORTON: … over here. Okay, all right. Now, where did Julia go to school?
ROBEY: Which time?
NORTON: Well, let’s start at the beginning.
ROBEY: Well, she went to Peabody [Elementary School, 425 C Street NE], then she went to Watkins [Elementary School, 420 12th Street SE], then she went to Hobson [Stuart-Hobson Middle School, 410 E Street NE]. Then she went to Capitol Hill Day School [210 South Carolina Avenue SE] because she was diagnosed with a learning disability and Stuart-Hobson in no way, at that point in the formation of the Cluster [Capitol Hill Cluster School], had its act together enough to deal with that. They were just giving her As and sending her on, you know.
NORTON: Yeah, I know, yeah.
ROBEY: You know. Your kids went there. And, so, we sent her to the Day School and then she went to Burke [Edmund Burke School, 4101 Connecticut Avenue NW], which got shot up last week [April 22, 2022].
NORTON: It did? Yes, I saw that.
ROBEY: Yeah. God.
NORTON: In any event.
ROBEY: Yeah, in any event. And then she went to—she auditioned for, because you remember she was a musical theater person.
NORTON: Absolutely. I will ask you about that, too. But go ahead. Let’s keep going.
ROBEY: And she auditioned and got into the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. And after she was there about three or four months maybe, she said,  “I don’t like it. I want to come home. I don’t like it here. I don’t like the people. I’m not cut out for this. I thought I was, but I’m not cut out for it. It’s a horrible profession,”  Which it is in many, many ways.
NORTON: Yeah, well, right.
ROBEY: You know, it may not be so bad at [a certain] level, but getting from here to there, there’re some just awful people. And she didn’t want to deal with them. And the people at the school said, “Oh, give her a little more time.” I said, “I know my daughter. She’s not going to take any more time, so we’re going to come up and get her.”
And then she worked for half a year here, for CHAW [Capitol Hill Arts Workshop] probably, I don’t remember. And then she went to a little place outside of Boston called Curry College, which catered to people with learning disabilities. She found it, she applied, she went up. It was fun because we got to go to Boston. And, then, she applied for a transfer to St. Mary’s [College of Maryland, St. Mary’s City, Maryland], which is what she ultimately graduated from.
NORTON: Right, right.
ROBEY: Yeah. I mean, a little rough go when she got there but she made it through. You know. Your son was there, too, so [laughs] …
NORTON: So, now, during this early time, you did a lot of volunteer work and donations of your work and time for community organizations. Can you walk me through that a little bit?
ROBEY: Well.
NORTON: I mean, I know you did graphic work for a lot of people ,but you also did a lot of other stuff, too, right?
ROBEY: Well, I mean, I was showing up like everybody else was, you know, doing the race and whatever.
NORTON: The race being the Capitol Hill Classic.
ROBEY: Capitol Hill Classic, right, which I see is still going on. I saw a note about it the other day.
NORTON: It happened. Yes.
ROBEY: It did. I don’t know. I came from a family that—parents that were givers. You know. So, it was what they did, and I always figured if you have a talent that will help people and will fill a hole, you’ve got to give it.
NORTON: All right. Well, I’ll ask you about the [Capitol Hill] Arts Workshop [CHAW]. How did you first get involved with them?
ROBEY: Through Julia’s first movement class.
NORTON: Okay. Who was the teacher?
ROBEY: [Laughs] I think it was Raye probably. Raye LeValley. That would be my guess. And I think Moira [Connelly] was in it and James Dalpee was in it and, you know, all the kids.
NORTON: Yes, right.
ROBEY: And from that I went to one of the music revues that Sally [Carlson Crowell, founder of CHAW] always did. I don’t remember which one. I wasn’t in it, but I went to it.
NORTON: Okay. Because, yeah, she did them just about every year at that point.
ROBEY: Exactly. Yeah. So, I said, “Let me go to that.” And it was fun. And I thought, “Well, that looks like fun. I could do that.” And, so, I don’t know. I must have. The first thing I did was, I think, audition for Oliver! [1985] because by that time I knew Parker [Jayne] somehow. I guess from all the stuff that our kids were all doing together. And he said “Oh, come do this,” because he was already playing the piano for them and accompanying and doing stuff. He was already ensconced, you know. He was already sucked in.
So, he then sucked me in and, of course, how many orphans were onstage in Oliver! ? I mean, a lot, and Fagin’s children, whatever. And, then, that’s when I caught on: “Ah, Sally is brilliant. She puts on these shows that have lots of kids and that’s how the Arts Workshop gets supported and that is freaking brilliant.” And it was—Linda [Norton, interviewer’s wife] was in it. I mean, we had a great ...
NORTON: I was in it.
ROBEY: What were you in it?
NORTON: I had to dance with you in the “Oom-Pah-Pah” dance and stuff. And then I got punched out …
ROBEY: Oh, god, I forgot about the “Oom” … Oh, that’s right. Drinking the beer and “Oom-Pah-Pah.”
NORTON: And I got punched out by Leo Surla as Bill Sykes, so …
ROBEY: I completely forgot about that part of Oliver! I just remember Katherine LaToracca and all the kids and Phil De Sellem and …
NORTON: Yeah, it was fun.
ROBEY: And I had to scream at the end, a big scream. That was my big claim to fame. Yeah, so that’s how that happened. And then I volunteered because Sally was doing all her little newsletters on her, you know, Remington Royal  [typewriter] or whatever. [Laughs]
NORTON: Right.
ROBEY: I said, well, let me do some of that, Sally. And that was that. And I continued doing that with Elizabeth Gill all the way for a long time, doing graphics for their ...
NORTON: Elizabeth was the executive director after Sally left, right?
ROBEY: I think so. I can’t remember if there was somebody in between or not.
NORTON: I think there may have been somebody in between.
ROBEY: Maybe it may have been some interim in there, yeah.
NORTON: But you were doing all their graphics work then.
ROBEY: Mm-hmm.
ROBEY: Mm-hmm. And, also, you know, Linda and P.D. [Paul Douglas Michnewicz] and I had started Theater Alliance there. So, you know, we were generating graphics for that but it was an Arts Workshop program at that point.
NORTON: Well, right. Let me walk you through this. Because what was your next show you were in after Oliver!? And I actually did bring …
ROBEY: You have the order of them?
NORTON: I actually do.
ROBEY: I mean, I remember which ones I was in. I was in Mame. When did that come?
NORTON: Mame was in 1990. The next one was The King and I [1986]. Were you in King and I?
ROBEY: Yes, I was in King and I. I was one of two wives who managed to have 70 children. [Both laugh]
NORTON: But, once again, Sally had lots of kids in the show.
ROBEY: Oh, yeah. That was the most kids, I think. King and I. I mean they kept coming and coming. And Raye had made these little Dixie cup hats out of—it was hilarious. [In tune] Na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na, na-na …
NORTON: And, then, after that was Annie [1988].
ROBEY: Okay. So, I was in that.
NORTON: And, well, why don’t you tell me about being in Annie, since you did have somewhat of a big part.
ROBEY: Yeah. I mean I had a great part. And Linda had that same part. The thing about Annie is it’s a wonderful show whether you’re playing a big named character or not. It’s just got great music. And a great role for FDR [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] if I remember properly.
NORTON: Yes. [Robey laughs] This is not my interview but that was the one part I did actually try out for. So.
ROBEY: Yes. Well, you did a great job at it. And I think the best thing for me about Annie—and about most of them, but especially Annie—was Julia was doing Annie and I was doing Miss Hannigan and Bruce was playing in the pit. And the opening, the very, very first thing you heard at the beginning of Annie, was his trumpet.
NORTON: Bruce’s trumpet.
ROBEY: Mm-hmm. And I can’t remember what the lick was. [In tune] Da-da-da-da. Maybe it was “Maybe.” I don’t know. But that’s what you heard, solo trumpet in the dark. And it was just so great. And then the three of us would be going to the show together because when, you know, when I wasn’t doing Miss Hannigan, I was doing chorus. So, you know, with Bruce Brennan and everybody doing chorus stuff.
NORTON: Right. There were three different Miss Hannigans …
ROBEY: Yeah. Donna Fletcher.
NORTON: … and Annies there.
ROBEY: Right. Annie Weirich …
NORTON: Was with Linda.
ROBEY: Who was the third girl?
NORTON: Oh, foo. I actually …
ROBEY: I can see her face.
ROBEY: Yeah. It’ll come. Yeah, it was great. That was really, really fun. The problem, one of the issues I was always sad about is Sally only did nine performances of everything. I don’t know why it was only three weekends with every show. And, then, of course, when we moved up to doing more professional theater, you know, 16 is the minimum for that. So. Some of them you were ready to be done with. [Norton laughs] Like Pajama Game [1992]. And some you missed when you were done, like Annie. And, then, Mame was in there somewhere and that was fun.
NORTON: All right. Well, after Annie was South Pacific [1989].
ROBEY: I was in that one, too. That was the most endless musical I was ever in. It was 20 times too long and it was hotter than the hinges of hell in the Hine [Junior High School] auditorium. So, it was just like [being in] the South Pacific.
NORTON: And what did you play?
ROBEY: A nurse, like every other—you know. I don’t think there was anything for women except nurse and Inez. . .
NORTON: And Inez being Inez Lester.
NORTON: And Inez played Bloody Mary.
ROBEY: Bloody Mary. That’s it. I put that musical out of my ....  And little Miss What’s-her-name, Jenny Banner, who I then got reacquainted with in West Virginia, showing up in her little outfit that exactly matched her character [Nellie Forbush]. And she looked exactly right. It wasn’t that she—it was fine. But …
NORTON: She was the lead.
ROBEY: Yeah. She was—I sort of was getting ready to not do those musicals. They were, you know, getting a little cliquish, let me say.
NORTON: [Laughs] What do you mean by that?
ROBEY: I mean, like all community theater, the same people come and get parts. And if you’re a guy, especially, you get—you know.
NORTON: But you did do Mame the next year.
ROBEY: I did it. You, know, I did it because—I did it. And I kept hoping that Sally would give me a better part than what she would give me. She gave me whatever that one was. I don’t remember even the name of them. The loudmouth part. Oh, sheesh. I can’t remember it; I’ll think of it. [Sally Cato] So, Mame came after South Pacific?
NORTON: Yeah, Mame was after. But, actually, between South Pacific and Mame was A Silver Salute to the Sounds of the Sixties [1989].
ROBEY: Okay, right. Well, that’s a whole different kind of a thing …
NORTON: Right.
ROBEY: … because I did several musical revues. We did [George] Gershwin [1992] and—I don’t think I did Irving Berlin [1988]—but I kow we did Gershwin.
NORTON: Jerome Kern, I think [1985].
ROBEY: Yeah, I don’t think I did that one. I think I did a couple. I think I did Gershwin and definitely Sixties.
NORTON: And A Silver Salute to the Sixties was—your part in that was?
ROBEY: In addition to forming the Jaynettes at that point was ...  [NORTON laughs] a couple of other things. I guess, Sally, and Parker [Jayne]—was Parker the music director also, I think, of the whole show, as he was a lot then? I don’t remember. Was Phil still alive? Yeah, Phil must have been. I think Phil was in it. I don’t remember.
NORTON: Yes, I think Phil was still around.
ROBEY: Because I don’t remember when Phil died. It was just tragic.
NORTON: That would be Phil De Sellem.
ROBEY: Yeah. Phil De Sellem, what a fabulous guy.
NORTON: Yes, he was.
ROBEY: Parker [Jayne]  and Sally, I guess, decided that part of the Salute to the Sixties would, of course, have to be girl-group, rock-and-roll stuff. So, Parker put the [Jaynettes] together …
NORTON: How did he pick the people?
ROBEY: I just was trying to think. I don’t remember how that happened. I mean, well, Linda and I were obvious because we were—and Raye was probably obvious. But I have no memory of why Peggy got onboard. Peggy never did a show before or after. I mean, her kids did. John was in stuff and Beth was in stuff.
NORTON: That would be Peggy O’Brien.
ROBEY: Yeah, Peggy O‘Brien, right. I mean, Peggy was about the least likely person to come onboard. [Intermittent noise in background]
NORTON: Let me pause here.
ROBEY: Okay. [Interview pause]
NORTON: We’re back on now.
ROBEY: … So, I’m thinking that before that night of doing the Silver Salute, Sharon Raimo had a party, and it was a party where everybody brought a talent. And Parker had written a song about Bruce, my Bruce, from when Bruce and whoever he was running with at the time chased the purse snatcher ...
NORTON: Oh, right.
ROBEY: … And held him until the cops got there. And “The Ballad of Bruce” came out of that, and we sang “The Ballad of Bruce” at Sharon’s party. “Bruce is my man, if he can’t do it, no one can.” No, that was Dale Denton. I’ll think of the words in a minute. I think I still I have the original copy of it.
NORTON: Parker wrote it, and which ones of you sang it at Sharon’s party?
ROBEY: Well, that may be where Peggy sang actually, you know. Because she and Sharon were very, very close friends. Still are. And maybe Linda—would you remember going to that party at all? Nuh. I don’t know.
NORTON: I don’t.
ROBEY: Yeah. There was another woman. Anyway, that’s where I think the germ [began] for the Jaynettes.
NORTON: But that was before The Silver Salute.
ROBEY: That was before The Silver Salute.
ROBEY: Yes. Yeah. And then, you know, we put that [the Jaynettes] together. And, then—oh god, we did a couple of things and we were just terrible. We were horrible, horrible, horrible. Parker has us singing, you know …
NORTON: Is this before or after The Silver Salute?
ROBEY: I don’t know. I remember we were doing a Lee Lockwood party or something, like, with three of us and we were singing a couple of, oh, you know, big band kind of stuff, totally not knowing what the hell we were doing. We were terrible. I was embarrassed. I just wanted to go home. But, we hit our stride with the rock and roll. I just can’t exactly place which order things came in, whether we did that and then we did The Silver Salute or we did … We must have done all of that first and The Silver Salute came along, because I don’t remember after that doing anything but rock and roll.
NORTON: After The Silver Salute.
ROBEY: Yeah, yeah.
NORTON: All right. Well, then, The Silver Salute, though, seemed to be, you know, a big hit. So, why did you guys keep going?
ROBEY: People asked us to. [Laughs] You know, that was what was so weird.
NORTON: Give me some examples of what people asked you, I mean, what? For parties and stuff?
ROBEY: Well, the parties and the school auctions and that kind of stuff, you know. St. Peter’s basement, Christ Church hall. The thing that really did it was we did those sock hops that we would just generate ourselves and go to Christ Church Parish Hall and everybody would be there, packed, you know, babies in arms up to grandparents, dancing and having a great time. I mean, what could be better? And then one night The Washington Post came and ran that big article in the Metro section [“Capitol Hill Doo-Woppers Bring Back Sound of 60s,” July 20, 1991]. And, then, people started calling us for actual gigs. And we did that for a while, and we didn’t like it.
NORTON: What? Actually went and …
ROBEY: People we didn’t know were calling us. We were driving out to the suburbs to sing and …
NORTON: I remember Linda reporting one time about Peggy backing over a boxwood or something.
ROBEY: The boxwood, the boxwood, the famous boxwood, yes. I still get on her about that boxwood. And, yeah, we did the American Psychiatric Association. No, no, no. They were having a—part of their meeting was this dinner and dance and, you know, stuff. And we were really bad, we were terrible. I think we were terrible. They were luckily drinking a lot.
NORTON: I don’t know. People seemed to like you.
ROBEY: No, no. They did. There was that. But it was always so much better when you knew the people in the audience. We just didn’t like as much doing …
NORTON: Well, you did have kind of a cult following on Capitol Hill.
ROBEY: A little cult following, a little cult following. I remember when we went to one of the St. Peter’s ones, I think. It might have been one of those ones we put together for combined [Capitol Hill] Chorale and CHAW and Theater Alliance and whatever. And the old-time guys from the 50s, the Kalin Twins, were there. I can’t remember who even came up with the Kalin Twins. Oh, it was that ... lawyer guy. White hair, big guy.
Anyway, they did their thing and they did a few off-color remarks and they did their songs and that was fine. And they came off and, of course, we went on and everybody goes, “Yay, yay, yay!” And they said, “Who are you people?” And we’re, like, “Well, we’re the Jaynettes. Who are you? You’re old guys from the 40s and 50s. And nobody liked you. So.” [Both laugh] And it was funny.
What was that guy’s name? I can see him, and I used to do ads for him in The Voice and he was a real estate lawyer, like many people on Capitol Hill. Yeah, so then we, at one point, we just said, “No, we’re not doing this anymore, we’re not doing the schlepping.” I mean, it was schlepping equipment back into Parker’s basement at one in the morning. And, you know, everything was big and heavy at that point. Nothing was the nice smaller stuff that’s available now. And we had more. We had drums, we had Jeff  [Serfass] on sax.
NORTON: Well, that’s true. You had some—who were the kids that played the drums for you?
ROBEY: John O’Brien.
NORTON: He was the first one, right?
ROBEY: I think he was the first one. Patrick Rees Saunders.
ROBEY: Another kid who we can’t remember the name of, and then Parker and I were both trying to remember him. I’m not sure where he came from. And Julia’s boyfriend Darryl Moran, you know. And, then, later on another guy named Joe Willett, who would come and sub, who was really, really good. Oh, I remember a couple of other drummers that Parker found. One played dead drunk. Oh, he was awful. [Laughs] It was really a trip, now that I think back on it. Some really weird people.
NORTON: But you’ve got Jeff Serfass getting in there at some point.
ROBEY: Yeah.
NORTON: Not at the beginning, obviously.
ROBEY: But he was very close thereafter because Parker had to, like, write out the saxophone _______ parts for him.
NORTON: But didn’t he get involved—because you all called him Biff.
ROBEY: Yeah, that’s right. From The 1940s Radio Hour.
NORTON: Right. So, it was another one of those musical revues.
ROBEY: Yeah, yeah. I was not in that. And that’s a book  show that would have been in the place of one of the musical revues. Because that’s sort of what it was.
NORTON: Right. And, then, you had Bill Barry.
ROBEY: Oh, Bill Barry sang Elvis for us, yes. Oh, yes. Thank you for reminding me of that.
NORTON: But that would have been after Kiss Me Kate, because I think when he …
ROBEY: That’s when he came.
NORTON: … first came in, he had the big part in Kiss Me Kate.
ROBEY: Yeah, yeah. He was a wonderful singer. Wonderful guy.
NORTON: And he also died.
ROBEY: Dropped dead. Forty years old. Heart attack. Yeah. I think he was one of the people whose father had the same thing, like Sam Schwartz, our playwright. Same thing. Dropped dead at the bus stop. Lost too many good guys then.
Yeah, Bill Barry came on after that, whenever that was, and I guess Parker asked him after Kiss Me Kate. He started singing Elvis and I remember [laughing] we went … He was so upset with Bruce because Bruce made him put on that Elvis costume with, you know, the wig. He said, “I don’t want to do this.” Bruce said, “Get out there and you’re going to be Elvis.” And we were marching around Eastern Market. I have great pictures of it actually. And Stephanie Deutsch [was involved] ... I don’t know how it all happened. It was just—it was good.
NORTON: But I do remember at some point he did lose the Elvis outfit, but he kept singing …
ROBEY: Yeah, he kept singing.
NORTON: … the album songs.
ROBEY: Oh, yeah, yeah. He kept singing the songs and also all the rest of the songs. And he was wonderful,  and it was just a horrible loss. Then, Chris McGahey from the Chorale came on, who is also wonderful in his own way, doing his own shtick. I mean he really got into it. He did his own costumes. We didn’t have to press him.
NORTON: So, he did the Elvis part after Bill died?
ROBEY: Well, he did some Elvis and then other really interesting male—the male parts, yeah.
NORTON: When did Julia [Robey] get involved?
ROBEY: Julia came in pretty early, you know.
[Interview paused]
NORTON: Okay. So, we were talking about Julia getting involved in —I know you all had a slogan from the beginning.
ROBEY: “Vintage music by vintage women.”
NORTON: Right.
ROBEY: Who were not vintage then but are vintage now. [Laughing]
NORTON: You just thought you were vintage.
ROBEY: We thought we were vintage at 42. Yes, we did. And I still have the t-shirt to prove it. Yeah, Julia was a wonderful addition. And I think with her if somebody couldn’t go, like, Peggy or something, it was good because we had her voice. And she’s a really good musician and has a wonderful ear. And she’s even better now because she’s been playing in a band for a long time now. And she sang with us. I mean, she obviously went away to college, but she sang with us up to opening up the Anacostia Playhouse, when we had whoever was available that night. I don’t know. I don’t think Linda was available and it was the other woman that Parker brought on. And we just did, like, two things. It was a whole cavalcade of people that we put up there for the soft opening, trying to get people to write checks for opening the Playhouse. So, she always jumped in when it was possible, Julia,  because she could hear the parts really well. Oh, I know what—because Raye moved to New Jersey.
NORTON: Right. Do you remember when that was?
ROBEY: I don’t, but I remember Julia singing. We wrote words to “This Is Dedicated to the One I Love.”  Julia sang it to Raye and that was in the Christ Church Parish Hall, the big going-away thing. I have no idea when any of this stuff happened.
NORTON: I know. It all blends together after a while, doesn’t it?
ROBEY: Yeah, it does, it does. And Julia was still, I think, probably still a teenager at that point. So, she was born in ’76. So, that had to be the ’80s.  On the early side of …
NORTON: Well, we know Raye was still around for …
ROBEY: I mean the 90s. Early 90s probably.
NORTON: So, but you all were going for quite a while, fairly full tilt.
ROBEY:  Yeah.
NORTON: And then you would have sort of, you know, reunion concerts ...
ROBEY: Right, right. Well, the reunions were fun. Yeah, yeah. Everybody always came …
NORTON:  ... and Raye would come back.
ROBEY: Right. Everybody always came out to the reunions. I think at that point Peggy had stopped, but  remember doing one reunion in Christ Church Parish Hall and we enticed her onto the stage and she sang. But she had left for good by that time. She was in graduate school, you know, getting her PhD. I mean, what’s more important? I mean, you know, values here! Rock and roll, PhD and Shakespeare. It’s clear to me. [Laughs]
NORTON: Okay. Well, now, after A Silver Salute, you all did Kiss Me Kate. Were you in Kiss Me Kate?
ROBEY: No. That’s the time I told Sally, “I’m done. You never give me a good part. I’m done.” And she said, “You still going to do the graphics?”
NORTON: Yes, and you said?
ROBEY: I did.
ROBEY: You know.
NORTON: And, then, were you in Pajama Game? Which was in ’92, I think.
ROBEY: I was. Yes, I was in that. It seems to me Linda and I had a scene together.
NORTON: I don’t remember much about that.
ROBEY: Yeah. I don’t remember much about it either. It was Walter Gottlieb. I’m still friends with him on Facebook. And Becky Granatstein became his wife.
NORTON: Yes. Walter was in it and I think Becky was in it as well. Walter was the lead.
ROBEY: Yeah. He did a really nice job on it. I remember sitting at a table talking about— I had a little part. Linda and I had the same type of little part where we got a few lines in.
NORTON: But Sally didn’t direct that one, did she?
ROBEY: I don’t remember. I remember, you know, early on Jean Kling did—no, Jean did mostly parish hall hall–size stuff.
NORTON: The dramatic stuff.
ROBEY: Yeah, the dramatic stuff. Exactly.
NORTON: Or the non-musicals.
ROBEY: Cora Lee [Khambatta] directed Oliver!, you know. And, then, there was that music director who was drunk. Oh, my god. It was terrible. I can’t remember what show it was, but, you know— I can’t remember who all the directors were but Sally was mostly the director, I think. Isn’t that true?
NORTON: At least after the first couple. Yes, I think so.
ROBEY: Yeah.
NORTON: Cora Lee was the director for Damn Yankees, which was my show, and Oliver!. And, then …
ROBEY: Right.
NORTON: …  after that, Sally was.
ROBEY: And Sally. Right. And I don’t remember. I remember other music directors. You know, Phil [De Sellem] would do it. Parker would do it ...  It must have been Sally directing them. You’ll have to go look at old posters.
NORTON: Well, Sally left or sort of left the, you know, active part in the Arts Workshop around ’92, or something like that.
ROBEY: And I think after she left, the big musicals didn’t get done. I mean, we did them as Theater Alliance. I mean we did The Wiz and Gospel at Colonus and, you know.
NORTON: Yeah, and you did Working.
ROBEY: And Working. That was the first one we did under the Theater Alliance brand.
NORTON: Okay. So, why don’t you tell me sort of what part you and Linda had actually, when Sally left, to keep the theater program of the Arts Workshop going.
ROBEY: Well, it was mostly sort of spurred by meeting Paul Douglas [Michnewicz].
NORTON: Right.
ROBEY: And he came to teach at the Workshop. And Julia and I remember, we took his acting class. And he did that, that you remembered the name of and spurred my memory. Trifles …
NORTON: What? Trifles. Yeah.
ROBEY: That Linda and I were in with Gerry Connolly. And I think Betty McGhee was behind the scrim rocking the rocker.
NORTON: I think that’s right.
ROBEY: Um-hmm. P.D. was real big on scrims.
NORTON: P.D. being Paul Douglas.
ROBEY: Yeah, Paul Douglas.
NORTON: I know. We called him P.D.
ROBEY: Yes, I know. And …
NORTON: How do you pronounce his last name?
ROBEY: Mick-nev-its.
ROBEY: And, so, he did that and took us to the one-act play festival that used to be run by the [DC] Department of Rec[reation]. And I think our decision was, because he was like really teaching us a lot, and we were like, “Oh, we need to take this up a notch. And Sally’s gone. Nobody’s doing anything.” And, then, I guess it was his idea, “Let’s do The Wiz. But, first, let’s formalize it.” And we’re sitting here just thinking of names—theater guild, theater what. So, we said Theater Alliance and that’s what stuck. And, of course, as we know, it’s still a very wonderful, successful theater company to this day.
NORTON: But it did evolve, from the …
ROBEY: Oh, yeah.
NORTON: … community theater to now not a community theater.
ROBEY: Right. Um-hmm.
NORTON: Much to some of our chagrin.
ROBEY: Always an issue. But a lot of the same people were in some of those early musicals.
NORTON: Right.
ROBEY: You know, made no difference. It just was we were paying people.
NORTON: So, now, but Paul Douglas didn’t direct The Wiz.
ROBEY: No, he did not. This crazy man from Duke Ellington [School of the Arts]—Fred Lee was his stage name. He actually had another name which I don’t remember. Because when we were writing his check, he said, “No, can’t write it that way.” I’m, like, “What?” But he was crazy brilliant because that thing of setting it in DC was brilliant.
NORTON: Why don’t you describe sort of how that was done.
ROBEY: Okay. That was The Wiz—and what a wonderful set with the house down on the floor of Hine and the whole yellow brick road going around the seats and the Wiz being Marion Barry.
NORTON: Chinatown arch.
ROBEY: Chinatown arch. And the point in the movie where the Wiz—the, you know, the wizard behind the curtain—goes off in a balloon, right, left in a helicopter off of the Mall. And the whole Procter-Matuszeski family made this incredible helicopter. And they’d also made the Chinese gate. And I remember Linda and I had a couple of walk-ons on it as Hillary [Clinton] and Tipper [Gore]. She was Tipper and I was Hillary. Don’t ask me why he had that. I guess we had a city council also.
NORTON: He had to have parts for the white people.
ROBEY: That’s true. [Laughs]
NORTON: I mean, I was David Clark.
ROBEY: David Clark [Laughs]. That’s right.
NORTON: Not that I even had a speaking role or anything.
ROBEY: Right. No, no. We didn’t either because he had the city council. But the whole thing was pretty brilliant. And because he, you know, he had some of these young people—a couple of whom I still know, a couple of whom have passed, unfortunately, in the AIDS crisis, young dancers out of Ellington and then Howard [University] who were adorable and hilarious and so talented, you know, just wonderful. And musicians. Yeah, so it was quite the thing, in addition to the…
NORTON: And I’ll need you to recount the famous, you know, theater story which was almost like …
ROBEY: Swapping in …
NORTON: Swapping in the Dorothys.
ROBEY: Well, her name was Sasha,the first Dorothy. (Her sister Shyanne was also in the play.) And I still know her. She still comes, when I was doing it, would be auditioning for any gospel show that we were doing. She’s quite good. Has a baby now. She …
NORTON: She was just a kid then.
ROBEY: She was a kid. She  was, you know, 12. Something like that ....  Her father was [difficult] and it got to be that opening night and Fred, being the director and Donna, who was the costumer, who worked at Ellington, and her husband was the technical director ....  fired her on opening night. Opening early evening. And we had an understudy ...  
And we had a Payless [shoe store] then at 8th and D.
NORTON: Right across the street from Hine.
ROBEY: Right. Catty-corner from Hine. And, our costumer, Donna, raced across, lucked into the right size of flats, spray paint …
NORTON: Because the ruby slippers were not the right size.
ROBEY: Right. Didn’t fit. Spray painted those suckers backstage. We held the curtain for, I don’t know, at least a half an hour, I mean, a long time, spraying them and sparkling them. And, of course, you know, it’s spray paint. So, just the whole place is stinking and we’re poisoning people. And this little girl—I’ll think of those three girls’ names.
NORTON: She was a sweet kid.
ROBEY: She was a sweet kid and she did a great job. It was that magic theater night where the understudy goes on and she’s fabulously successful. And, then, of course, she did the role for the rest of the time.  And when I met Shanté  again years later at the H Street Playhouse—she came in for a Black Nativity audition, I think. And she said, “I’m Shanté  I’m the one that was fired from The Wiz.” I think.  “Oh, my god, really? Oh, Shanté, Shanté!, I’m so sorry!” How’s your dad, I did not ask. This is community theater here at its best. Really at its best, where we went to Hine and said, “We’ll trade you the space and we’ll put as many Hine kids as want to come on.”
NORTON: And there were quite a few.
ROBEY: And there were a lot. Oh, yeah. They got totally hooked, you know, a whole bunch of them and they came on to the next show, Really Rosie. And then we used more of them in Ain’t Misbehavin’. And, yeah, that’s when Bruce went in, sweet talked Princess Whitfield [Hine principal] and promised her a website, you know. Yeah.
NORTON: But in fairness, Sally had been using Hine all the time.
ROBEY: Oh, yes. No, no, no. We were just trying to do it. But Mr. Vinson—you remember him? He was the vice principal.  He wasn’t really happy about it because then he had to, you know, have staff come and ... I guess we’d been away for a year or two after Sally left and we were trying to get back in. But the nice thing is we met the custodian and his wife, Sylvia. [Griffin] I still know Sylvia. Sylvia got a part in Gospel at Colonus. She got hooked. She’s doing theater with another friend out in Prince George’s County from way back when at Hine. They were on call by the thing. So, it was just wonderful. That’s what theater does.
ROBEY: That’s what it does.
NORTON: Now, you talk about Gospel at Colonus. You did that at least twice, right?
ROBEY: Three times.
NORTON: Three times. And the first one was, what, in ’96, something like that. It would have been, like, a year after The Wiz or so,
ROBEY: Yeah. Probably two years maybe.
ROBEY: And we did that once at Hine, the first time at Hine. And that’s when we had that huge chorus. And Linda was making the beautiful stoles to go around the choir robes. And then we did it at the Children’s Museum. Worst venue ever. And then we …
NORTON: But that was after you were going to do it at the…
ROBEY: At the church. Matthews Memorial. And James Foster kind of messed that up with a “reply all”. And, then, we did it at the …
NORTON: Why don’t you tell me what that means.
ROBEY: Well, I don’t know what the email said but we were on an email chain figuring out rehearsal and figuring out how we were going to use the beautiful sanctuary at Matthews Memorial. And there was a woman pastor. I don’t remember her name but she was on some of the emails where we were booking space and figuring things out. And, at one point, something negative was said. He probably said it in a “reply all” rather than just sending it to me ...  And she got it and she kicked us out that day. [Laughs]
NORTON: Now, James Foster was your music director for that.
ROBEY:  Correct.
NORTON: And he was in a bunch of them, wasn’t he?
ROBEY: Yeah. Gospel at Colonus was his idea. I think he’d been at The Wiz and he came to us and said—we didn’t know him— “I want to make a presentation, you know. I want you to consider Gospel at Colonus.” Well, we hadn’t heard of it. So, we got the book. Michael Tolaydo had both the book and he had a VHS tape of the Morgan Freeman version, which was very different from what we did because it was a very static thing. They had the choir, just always stayed as the choir, you know.
NORTON: It was a very Greek kind of—yeah.
ROBEY: Yeah, yeah. Much more so than what we ended up doing. But the minute I heard it and we heard, I’m, like, “Oh, yeah, we’ve got to do this. This will be great”. And, so, that’s when …
NORTON: And, then, the last time you did it was at H Street, right?
ROBEY: Right. Right in the first season or so. Second season.
NORTON: Who [were] your executive directors and all that kind of stuff? How was the Theater Alliance organized when you all started?
ROBEY: We were just like a committee. There was no—I guess de facto people like to think I was in charge, but I was not ever. I mean we would just have these meetings, where everybody had a say, to plan what show we might do. P. D. was heavily into that early on, because he picked Working. Then he picked Pippin, which we did some time. [Laughs] I think after The Gospel at Colonus.
NORTON: Pippin was back at Hine, wasn’t it?
ROBEY: Pippin was back at Hine, exactly, with the body parts all over the stage. And that’s when we met Liza Stein, who was a professional stage manager from New York who came down and she was working at Ford’s at that time. And she came on and directed it. And that was great. I wasn’t in it but was producing it. But, you know, it was good. Not my favorite show, but it was an interesting show and we did some interesting things with it. I think I helped run the lights on it, actually. We had a wonderful stage manager. I think that was the one. You know, two stages run together.
NORTON: But, then, you’re getting into these shows that don’t have 10,000 kids and stuff and so you don’t have the sisters and the cousins and the aunts coming to all the shows at Hine. So.
ROBEY: Yeah. Which makes it much harder and we stopped using Hine, you know. And we were always on the venue search at that point. We used the parish hall a lot. We did Gorey Stories there.
NORTON: That would be Christ Church?
ROBEY: Christ Church Parish Hall.
NORTON: And you also used the North Hall.
ROBEY: And the North Hall, right.
NORTON: At whatever we call it.
ROBEY: At the Eastern Market. Whatever it’s called now.
NORTON: Market 5 Gallery.
ROBEY: Market 5 Gallery. John Harrod, may he rest in peace. And that was one of the many venues. I was, at that point, writing letters constantly to Sharon Ambrose and whoever would listen about getting space. And I proposed that the theater be allowed to take over Market 5  Gallery and Harrod put a stop to that. I proposed the auditorium that was never being used at that school that’s no longer a school. It’s million dollar townhouses behind Watkins [Elementary School] on 13th Street.
NORTON: Right, right. It was sort of a Greek looking building.
ROBEY: Exactly, exactly. And several other places that I, you know … I have some letters I still have to Sharon Ambrose in my history boxes from 1992. And I was sitting down in Sharon Ambrose’s office with a guy I know to this day, Stan  Jackson, who was at DHCD [D. C. Department of Housing and Community Development] or giving out block grants. And we were trying to figure out how to get a block grant to do something. And this is, you know … Anyway. Yeah, we used that horrible space …
NORTON: At Eastern Market.
ROBEY: Yeah. Skin of Our Teeth and Gorey Gallery. I think those were the only two we did there.
NORTON: But one of the Gorey ones was actually a world premiere or something.
ROBEY: Yeah. Yeah, it was. That’s when P.D. was on Cape Cod and met Edward Gorey, went to his little museum, and he handed P.D. a stack of unpublished manuscripts and said, “Here. Make a play.” And, yeah. And P.D. came back and said, “Parker, we’ve got to make a musical.” So, Parker wrote music and P.D. put the pieces together and we did it there. I mean it was just this …
NORTON: And that one was done at the North Hall.
ROBEY: Market 5 yeah. And worst conditions ever. I mean the backstage toilet was a Porta John. [Laughs] And it was the old fashioned light board—kachunk, kachunk, you know. And it was—But it was a wonderful piece. I mean, it would be wonderful to somehow resurrect it because Parker’s music was wonderful and the whole, you know, concepts ... And you know Gorey’s as dark as it gets. And I don’t usually do dark, but I loved Gorey. Dark, you know. Special kind of dark. Dead baby dark.
NORTON: What were you doing—I mean, I know you were doing some acting, theater stuff outside the Arts Workshop during this period, weren’t you? Didn’t you try out for some parts in other shows and stuff or were you pretty much, you know, brand loyalty to the Arts Workshop and the Theater Alliance?
ROBEY: There was a lot of brand loyalty. I did some stage managing outside for the IN Series  [light opera founded by Carla Hubner]  and, then, P.D. called me in to stage manage and also some designing at the annual show he did at the Kennedy Center, which was very exciting, to call a show down there. I, like, you know, wet my pants with fear of doing it wrong but it was good. And we did that for, actually, like, ten years or so. We did lots of stuff down there.
He had this annual show for what was called Very Special Arts then. It was the playwright annual contest, playwrights with disabilities and plays about disabilities and it was just great. And he had a design team, people that we continued to use all the time. Dan Covey on lights. Just fabulous, great time. And I learned everything from those guys, everything, just watching them.
NORTON: So, how long was Paul Douglas, you know, still affiliated with the Theater Alliance?
ROBEY: Well, into H Street [Playhouse, 1365 H St NE]..
ROBEY: And we bought H Street in the end of August ’01 and then opened in ’02. And he was still doing stuff. Jeremy came along, so Jeremy was doing artistic director type stuff and Paul Douglas become chair of the board.
NORTON: Okay. Now, Jeremy’s last name?
ROBEY: Skidmore.
NORTON: Skidmore. Okay.
ROBEY: Yeah.
NORTON: And he came in as artistic director. He was the artistic director after Paul died?
ROBEY: Well, he did, like, the last show and it was opened on 9/11 at CHAW.
NORTON: 9/11/2001.
ROBEY: Yeah. It was his tryout for us. Because he pitched us. He came to our Theater Alliance group. We were a group. We were not formal, really formal at that point. And said, “I want to be your artistic director. You don’t have  such a thing but all this potential is there.” And he sold himself. I mean, Jeremy was really good at that. He was also a brilliant director. And he sold us to try this play out. And it was fabulous. I’m like, “Oh, my god. This is just wonderful.” Except it was 9/11, so, you know, it was pretty …
NORTON: Which play was it?
ROBEY: The Dispute, which was like a —not Molière but …
NORTON: I remember it, yes. It was in the black box theater at the Arts Workshop.
ROBEY: Yeah, and it was wonderful. And he had these guys going all over the place, you know. They were fabulous. And he also directed Courting Chris, I guess, which was Sam’s play, which was also hilarious in the black box. So, we did some stuff there.
NORTON: But Courting Chris, according to my notes or reading something, was 1999.
ROBEY: Okay, so it was before that. And, oh, I remember what the deal was with Jeremy on that. It was directed by Jeff Keenan, who was …
NORTON: Courting Chris was?
ROBEY: Yeah. He was a friend of ....
NORTON: Of Sam’s?
ROBEY: Of Sam’s and in the After Actors Theater of Washington, which was one of the early gay theater companies. How we got Jeremy involved in that was Jeremy was coming into town to do something as assistant director with the Folger. And he said, “Can I stay in your basement,?”Which he had done before. And we said yeah. And I met him [Laughing] in the driveway and said “You can only come stay in the basement if you stage manage this show we’re getting ready.” So, he did stage manage.
NORTON: And he stage managed Courting Chris.
ROBEY: He stage managed Courting Chris.
NORTON: Well, let me back up on Courting Chris because, of course, people won’t, you know, reading this, won’t know very much about Courting Chris. But Courting Chris was written by Sam Schwartz, right?
ROBEY: Right.
NORTON: And it was fairly, you know, it was unusual at that time, was it not? And why was that?
ROBEY: It was because we had a couple of commitments in Theater Alliance. We were going to produce plays that weren’t always being produced in mainstream theater which had either gay themes or African American themes. And we did both of those. And I remember at least one person coming to me and asking me were we ever going to do any white plays? I’m, like, “No, I hope not.” So. [Laughs]
NORTON: In any event. But, no.
ROBEY: In any event.
NORTON: But, Courting Chris was—and it as written by Sam. So, how did you all run into Sam?
ROBEY: Sam came through P.D. They had met through some network, I guess. And he brought Sam over. And I remember sitting with them in the 8th Street house and he wanted Sam to become our theater playwright in residence, you know. It was a grand title for nothing. But we would produce his plays.
NORTON: Right. And it looks good on his resume. And he’s got somebody to …
ROBEY: It does, you know. Right. And we did some readings. And, then, we did a full production of his trilogy, Poodle Beach Trilogy. We did some readings—I remember Dick Gill specifically reading. You remember that?
NORTON: I was in one of the three—Jean Kling and I were in …
ROBEY: Yeah. They were so fun doing that.
NORTON: … and they were Sam Schwartz’s shows. Yeah.
ROBEY: Yeah, yeah. He did several of those short one acts. And, then, he wrote Courting Chris.
NORTON: And, just as sort of a synopsis, what was Courting Chris about?
ROBEY: Well, it was the gay man—I don’t remember exactly. I don’t know.
NORTON: It was a gay man but he had a girlfriend. And it was…
ROBEY: You know, right. It was a mistaken identity kind of, Shakespeare kind of thing of gay and straight and a woman involved. And remember Peter Finnegan was in it. He was so great an actor. And I remember the scene that was that they were playing squash, but they weren’t really playing. But they were so good at …
NORTON: At acting.
ROBEY: At making you believe, you know. It’s called acting. And they were just wonderful young actors. And that show went on for a second life down at Church Street Theater [1742 Church St. NW] , when Church Street Theater was still—before Keegans got it. The Keegans gave it to what’s their names? The family gave it to Keegan Theater. And we did a long run down there.
NORTON: And that was at least the first one that got a Helen Hayes nomination.
ROBEY: He did. That’s right.  People forget that, that he got a New Playwright nomination.
NORTON: Sam did.
ROBEY: Yeah, yeah. It was, like, “Hmm, what?” [Laughs]
NORTON: So, you all got to go down to the Helen Hayes Awards and all that ...
ROBEY: Yeah, I guess so. I don’t know. I don’t like going to them so I hadn’t been to very many, but we probably went that year. Did you go?
NORTON: Yeah. [Both laugh] My one and only time.
ROBEY: I’ve forgotten most of that stuff.
NORTON: All right. So, now, I mean, let’s sort of walk us through—because have I left out any shows and that sort of thing?
ROBEY: There are so many shows.
NORTON: Right.
ROBEY:  I don’t know.
NORTON: And when did you all move over to H Street?
ROBEY: We opened it in ’02.
ROBEY: Yeah.
NORTON: And that was sort of your thing, wasn’t it?
ROBEY: Well, we had been trying to get the Atlas Theater [1313 H ST. NE]. We had formed a group. We had a non-profit that was formed. We had an attorney who was—It was a board made up of a lot of residents,, D. C. residents, us, theaters, and we had a whole plan done with two or three other theater companies and CHAW on how we would do the Atlas Theater, how it would be run, you know. I still have all that stuff, the plans and the 501(c)3. And, the guy who was running the H Street Community Development Corporation, who, on the streets referred to me as “the evil white woman.” We had at least two meetings downtown with Eric what’s his name, who was the vice mayor, vice whatever they were called at that point. And they could not grasp doing that, taking it away from Bill Barrow ...
NORTON: Who’s Bill Barrow?
ROBEY: He ran the H Street Development Corporation ... And the original City Paper would do pieces on them [“The Merchants of H Street,” September 29, 2000], the Post would do pieces on them ... And we went head-to-head with him, our group, and we couldn’t get it.
NORTON: Now which group are we talking about? This  wasn’t Theater Alliance.
ROBEY: No. Theater Alliance was part of it. And it was called the Atlas Theater Project. That’s what we put our 501(c)3 in, so we could raise money. And we really did due diligence. We did meetings, we had a slide show. We had everything. It could have been opened five years before it ever got opened but [not understandable because of interfering noise]. And then when it became apparent we weren’t going to get that—I mean, we were pitching stuff down to the zero hour and he was just playing with us. Because I went to him and pitched, “Well, just let us use this piece of it, which was the old Safeway part, which is the big part on the end. And the dance people are in there now. And let us do a show and show people what can be done here. We’ll rent, you know, the lighting. We’ll rent everything. We’ll bring it in.” “Oh, that sounds like a pretty good idea. Write me something up,” blah-blah-blah and, then, he nixed it, you know.
NORTON: Okay. So, finally, what happened?
ROBEY: Well, we got tired of looking for space, and Bruce and I bought a building, French’s Soul Food Restaurant [1365 H St. NE]. And Mr. French was selling it and we made him an offer and we said,”He’ll never take it because it’s so low.” And he took it. He was getting ready to retire and his daughter, who was running it, was so ready to get out of there. And sweat equity turned it—Mr. Bruce’s mostly sweat equity and lots of …
NORTON: That would be Bruce Robey.
ROBEY: Yeah.
NORTON: Mr. Bruce Robey. [Laughs]
ROBEY: Lots of reformed and not so reformed addicts out of Hal Gordon’s program, community action group. And Jeremy was there and just …
NORTON: Jeremy Skidmore [North Carolina School of the Arts graduate]..
ROBEY: Jeremy Skidmore, salivating over the fact that we were actually building a little theater that he was going to get to run. Because our deal with him was we’re going to do it. We need you—because he was trying to make his way in DC  theater at that point. He said “No, I’ll get the renters. Give me a commission,” you know. So, we all jumped in. And Jeremy got African Continuum, he got Momentum Theater. We had Scena Theatre.
NORTON: What theater?
ROBEY: Scena. S-C-E. And lots of people. We had fabulous theater going on there all the time.
NORTON: And when did it open?
ROBEY: July of ’02, when Capital Renaissance did Colored Museum.
NORTON: Okay. And you had a bunch of shows there.
ROBEY: Yeah. We had a bunch of shows there. Lots of Helen Hayes nominations. Jeremy got 22 nominations, never a prize. Yeah.
NORTON: How long were you there and how long was Jeremy there?
ROBEY: Jeremy left—I don’t remember what year. He probably left after four years or so, maybe.
NORTON: Okay. So, maybe ’06, something like that.
ROBEY: Yeah. And that’s when P.D. stepped in as artistic director for a year or two. And, then, he said, “I can’t do this anymore, I need a real job.” Because he, like all of us, was, you know, hemorrhaging his own money into it and then forgiving the loan. And, then, he got the job at Reston.
NORTON: What job was that?
ROBEY: He’s the head of all the programming in the little theater out in Restonn. So he hires all the acts and, you know.
NORTON: Okay, just curious. Go ahead.
ROBEY: And then we hired Colin.
NORTON: Colin?
ROBEY: Hovde.
NORTON: Hovde, okay.
ROBEY: Right. And Colin directed several things there. And then Bruce died. And, then, I decided to keep it open and pay back the jerk who bought it, three years’ worth of rent.
NORTON: Now, when did it get sold?
ROBEY: 2012.
NORTON: So, you sold it after Bruce died. Is that, I mean …
ROBEY: Mm-hmm.
NORTON: … but you wanted to stay there? Is that …
ROBEY: Yeah.
ROBEY: Yeah. 2012’s not right because we went over to Anacostia in 2012. So, he died in ’09 and probably must have been ’10, ’11, and ’12. It kept going for a while. But the rest of ’09, because I lost him early in ’09 …
NORTON: Well, why did you sell it rather than letting the theater use it?
ROBEY: Well, he and I had been talking about selling it. After a while you get tired of being called for the stopped-up toilet because idiot women refuse to not put their stuff in the right trash can.
NORTON: Right.
ROBEY: And, you know, “[Actor] Jennifer Mendenhall is cold [backstage.]”. And blah-blah-blah. After a while you’re just done.
NORTON: So, the idea was to sell it.
ROBEY:  And I was so tired. I couldn’t do anything that didn’t associate him with the theater, you know, and me. I mean, it just was …
NORTON: It was hard.
ROBEY:  … really hard—hard, hard, hard. And, so, we had—while Bruce was alive, we had had an offer that almost worked from a couple who was going to keep it as a theater. And, so, we were really happy. We liked them. They loved it. He was actually a doctor but his wife .... Husband would have run it and, you know. Anyway, it fell apart at the table almost. The day before the settlement thing they said, “We can’t do it.” They lost $10,000, which we could have let them have, but at that point we couldn’t. We had to keep it. It was their earnest money that they knew they would lose if they didn’t go through with it. And, then, this other guy came along. And, then Bruce died. And, then, this other guy came along and, you know, it was a reasonable offer. It was complicated because I had to take back part of it and, you know, and he got the rest of it. Anyway. And he was a real jerk. He was also going to keep it as a theater. For about five minutes. Until he realized that was a pain in the butt. And he wasn’t a theater person.
NORTON: He was not a theater person.
ROBEY:  No. He was a developer.
NORTON: Okay. So, you kept it and then you rented it for a while.
ROBEY: Yeah.
NORTON: And then …
ROBEY: And, then, I guess the lease was coming done in 2012 and—I can’t remember how it happened—but The City Paper got a hold of something that was interpreted to say, “Adele Robey is getting priced out of H Street.” Which was kind of true because I asked Joel, the guy who bought the building, “What would the rent be if theater companies want to stay and rent from you?” And he said, “Oh, market rate. $55 a square foot.” I said, “Are you fucking kidding me? This is tiny theater people." He said,  “Well, yea-a-ah.” So.
So, we closed and he closed and didn’t do anything with that building for a year and a half. And then it became a CrossFit gym.
NORTON: So, when did you then—you moved over to the Anacostia Playhouse [2020 Shannon Pl SE]. So, how did that work? Or how did that …
ROBEY: Well, when that came out in City Paper—which I say was a surprise to us that it came out. It came out online.
NORTON: You don’t know where they came up with that.
ROBEY: No, I don’t. But, at that point, you know, City Paper was really on top of all kinds of stuff. I mean, they were pretty strong. And Anacostia ARCH Development called. And Phil Gautier, who we knew from—he owned a gallery on H Street, so we knew him. He said, “You guys have got to come over to Anacostia and look.” I said, “Okay.”
So, Julia and I came. Actually, the day Julia and I were coming, my car got hit [Laughing]at the intersection of 11th and the bridge there at M. So, I ended up coming, I think, myself, actually, to see it and they took me to the warehouse. And I said, “Oh, my god, I’ve always wanted to be in a warehouse.” Tall ceilings. It was the tall ceilings that did it and the wide open space. And, you know, so, we went back and forth and how they would do. And the owner would give us six months—not free rent. It just got tagged on to the end. But no rent for six months so we could do the buildout, which was a nightmare. The worst nightmare I’ve ever lived through. But it was absolutely the right choice, fantastic space and exactly the right space. And we finally got, you know …
NORTON: And you got the Theater Alliance to be the resident company.
ROBEY: Yeah. And, you know, Colin toyed with it for a while. “Well, I don’t know. Maybe I’m going to be, you know, itinerant. We’re going to go find ... “ But I said, “No, you’re not.” He said, “Okay, we’re coming.”
And, you know, that had a lot of ups and downs. A lot of downs near the end before Colin finally quit, which he should have done a year before he did because he was so frustrated and done.
NORTON: Well, so, how long were you at the Anacostia Playhouse?
ROBEY: I incorporated it in 2012 and I left in January of 2022. So, ten years.
ROBEY: If you include part of that not being actually in the building but doing nothing but going to the building every day to talk to people and go to architects, and, you know.
NORTON: So, you sort of had the hat of whatever as being on the board, I guess, of the Theater Alliance as well as the …
ROBEY: I had left the Theater Alliance board.
ROBEY:  Because we had felt, even back on H Street, there was becoming too much of a conflict …
NORTON: Conflict?
ROBEY: … of interest. So, yeah, I was off of that.
NORTON: All right. I’m almost done. But let me ask you about The Voice of the Hill..  [Capitol Hill newspaper 1999-2010] Why and when and what happened?
ROBEY: The why is because we hated the [Hill] Rag so much. And they were just like phoning it in. You know what I mean? And they were having kids deliver it and not paying them. And, you know, just bad news stuff ... And Stephanie Cavanaugh was there. She would come over and make stats from time to time. And, then, I’m not exactly sure how the conversation actually started ... but it was a big half gallon of wine and Stephanie and me and Bruce at the table ... And I had always said to him—and maybe he and I had the conversation first. I’m sure we did. I said, “We  can do this, you know.”
NORTON: We can do our own paper.
ROBEY: “We can do a paper. I know how to lay one out, god knows. And you know how the computer end part. We needed somebody to do some writing. There’s a lot of writers around, you know. Get an editor.” And somehow we started talking to her. I’m just not sure exactly how. And by the time the wine was gone and the afternoon was over, we had agreed to do it.
NORTON: And she was going to be the editor.
ROBEY: And she was going to be the editor. Right. And Bruce went out and sold, like, $20,000 worth of ads to get us going, I mean, because that’s what Bruce was. He was a salesman.
NORTON: Right.
ROBEY: That’s what he was in his heart. That’s what he liked. I mean he was the polar opposite of me in that situation. And, so, we did it. And we reached out and got—you know, she reached out and got people to write ... We got a lot of people and a lot of interesting stuff. And, the thing is, you know, Bruce had a concept which was way before its time and is now copied at all times.
NORTON: Right.
ROBEY: Put it on the web and then later on we’ll put it in print.
NORTON: Right.
ROBEY: Pick the important stuff and put it in print. So, now what day? You go every day, you look at the Post website, and you may see that stuff later on, you may not.  And it changes all the time. And he had that discussion group with, like, a thousand people on it. And it was brilliant.
NORTON: So, it was essentially online …
NORTON: … back when nothing was online.
ROBEY: Yeah, right. We called it “every day online and once a month in print,” which the Rag immediately stole. The exact same phrase, except they never had an online presence because they could never figure out to get online. I don’t think they got there except a few years ago.
NORTON: They’re there now.
ROBEY: They’re there now, I know. But it took them a long time. And after Stephanie left we we got Scott Shumaker and Scott was terrific.
NORTON: Who is Scott?
ROBEY: Scott didn’t live on the Hill but he spent a lot of time up here.
NORTON: And he was the editor?
ROBEY: He became the editor. He was a friend of one of the people, actually, the attorney who had been on our Atlas Theater group project. So, we knew her, we kept in touch. And she said, “You should really talk to Scott. He’s my friend from growing up in Pennsylvania, whatever.” And we loved Scott. He was fabulous. Totally different, you know, but a really happy guy, wonderful to work with. He knew how to go out and get writers. He was always on time.
And you wrote for us—It’s hard to work together a lot, you know. And you have different ideas about how things should be and it happens in every situation. But somehow we’ve all weathered it.
NORTON: So, finally, then, it got sold to the …
ROBEY:  Yeah, The Northwest Current or Current Newspapers. And he ran it into the ground. He wouldn’t take any help. He was very, very rich and very stubborn and we said if you want to keep it and you want to keep the Capitol Hill folks at all, you should do this. And he said no, he wasn’t doing any of that. He was going to do it his own way and, you know, everybody else be damned. And, within a couple of years, it didn’t exist anymore. So. Maybe not even a couple of years. And, you know, he didn’t pay us very much money. He paid us a little bit of money. And we were actually really worn out from it, because it was just the two of us and Scot. But then it would just get dumped. And every couple of weeks it was back in layout situation again and you couldn’t …
NORTON: Right. And doing the everyday stuff is …
ROBEY: Yeah. You had to plan all your time off around that because you didn’t have as much capability of dragging everything with you like you do now.
NORTON: Right.
ROBEY: Like, when I go on vacation, I just work there.
NORTON: Right.
ROBEY: And take stuff. You know, my Mac mini is this big.
NORTON: Right.
ROBEY: I load my big screen but still that’s, you know. But you didn’t do that so much then. You know, you were pretty tied down. But it was a wonderful experience. It really was. A lot of the stuff was fun to lay out. And he would take all of the photos. And it was always fun to think of what cover we were going to do, you know. I remember one of my favorites was I superimposed a turkey walking down East Capitol Street for Thanksgiving, one of the years. And my other favorite one was a photo, at election time, was one of the light poles at Eastern Market had like 20 of the signs for people to get elected and they were all—It was just a great photo. So, yeah, it was good.
NORTON: All right. Well, I’ve probably worn you out.
ROBEY: No, I’m good. Two hours.
NORTON: We’ve been at it for two hours?
ROBEY: Perfect.
NORTON: All right. Well, thank you very much. I really appreciate it. Anything else you want to …?
ROBEY: Namaste. No, I don’t know. What do you …?
NORTON: I’ve run out of things to ask you, so …
ROBEY: Okay. Well, I appreciate being part of the project, so thank you Ruth Ann wherever you are.
NORTON: Okay, good. I’m going to turn it off now, if this will …

This started with Betsy Barnett’s transcript received 6/20/22. I made some edits including fixing style and bolding the speaker names. Not much else.
Right words? 4:17
Adele: Please confirm the spelling of Council.
Adele: Do you remember the address?
Bernadette: Is this necessary?
Do you know what the building is today?
Word? 28:52
I can’t tell.
Word? 29:51
This name is Weirich
Word?  34:14
Word?  34:36
36:23  Right words?
Words? 50:42
Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project
Adele Robey Interview, May 20, 2022

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