Cover photo for Allen Dail Shankles's Obituary
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Allen Dail Shankles

Allen Shankles, the longtime managing/artistic director of the Amarillo Little Theatre, took his final bow on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. He was 66.

Services will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, 2024, at the Amarillo Little Theatre, 2019 Civic Circle.

Shankles was born October 14, 1957, in Tucumcari, New Mexico, to Kathryn Hart and Dail Shankles. He and his mother moved to Amarillo, where she married Melvin Edes when Allen was 6 years old. A quarterback at Canyon High School, Allen also fell in love with the stage, eventually deciding to study theater at then-West Texas State University, where he graduated in 1980. Following graduation, he joined the prestigious Actor’s Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky.

In 1980, he married the love of his life, Carrie Gregg, though their love story began when they met as sixth graders. True high-school sweethearts, Allen and Carrie’s family grew to include daughters Jordan and Alexa and, later, Alexa’s husband, Adam, and their sons, Reno and Santino.

In the early 1980s, Allen returned to Amarillo from Louisville, hoping to save up money so he could pursue an acting career in New York or Los Angeles. In 1983, he was working at Canyon Glass Co. when he was approached by Amarillo Little Theatre to direct “Arsenic and Old Lace”—a request that changed his life.

Allen not only directed that production, but he also built the set, ran the lights, and played two different roles on stage. Allen was hired to direct another show, then another, then another. Eventually, the ALT board of directors, with the help of the Junior League of Amarillo and other supporters, found the funds to hire Allen as the full-time artistic director and business manager.

Allen and the team he built turned the theater’s fortunes around. Before his arrival, the theater was teetering on the verge of collapse. When Allen retired in 2023, ALT had a $1 million-plus budget and expanded to include a separate black-box theatre facility, the Adventure Space; and a vibrant ALT Academy, now boasting more than 600 students ranging from 3 years old to adult. Under Allen, ALT rose to national prominence and was recognized as one of the most successful community theaters in the nation.

After 38 years, Allen stepped down as managing/artistic director in 2021 following his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease 10 years earlier. In his time at ALT, he directed hundreds of performances of more than 200 shows, acted in several shows himself, worked with countless actors, technicians,

and crew members, and made ALT the leading light in Amarillo’s arts scene.

Anyone who knew Allen knew he had two passions: His family and theater, specifically Amarillo Little Theatre. He invested his entire being in ALT and everyone involved in it. Since his passing, innumerable tributes have poured in, thanking Allen for his dedication to the theater and to the growth he inspired in everyone with whom he worked. ALT is and will remain a living legacy to Allen’s life and work.

Allen was named the 2016 Amarillo Globe-News Man of the Year. He was named to WT’s Branding Iron Theatre Hall of Fame in 2005.

Off stage, Allen adored his grandsons, enjoyed golfing with his buddies, relished traveling, and loved his family deeply.

Allen was preceded in death by his mother, Kathy Edes; his father, Dail Shankles; and his grandparents, Punk and Arleen Hart.

Allen is survived by his father, Melvin Edes of Clarendon; his wife, Carrie, of Amarillo; his daughters Jordan Shankles of Dallas and Alexa DeMezza of Lake Tahoe, California; son-in-law Adam DeMezza; and grandsons Reno and Santino.

Memorials may be made in Allen’s honor to Amarillo Little Theatre, 2019 Civic Circle, Amarillo, TX 79109.
To send flowers to the family in memory of Allen Dail Shankles, please visit our flower store.


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