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As the days continue to plow forward with no foreseeable end to the pandemic in sight, many are looking for safe activities or places where they can forget (even if only for a short time) about the weight of our current condition.  After nearly five months of meticulous preparations, the Athens Theatre in DeLand will finally reopen with numerous safety precautions and loads of laughs.

So, with great excitement, DeLand’s historic theater is thrilled to invite theatergoers to come and enjoy the rollicking comedy The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)[Revised].

With only three actors and no fourth wall, this riotous spoof of all of Shakespeare’s 37 plays (in just over 90 minutes) highlights a completely silly Romeo and Juliet, the fastest performance of Hamlet ever, and lots of goofy fun turning everything you ever knew (or didn’t know) about the bard upside down.

Onstage, audiences will be delighted to see a trio of impeccable physical comedians directed by the talented Samantha Stern. Our very own Alan Ware (otherwise lovingly known as DeLand’s famous bubble guy) will be featured as the goofiest Hamlet you’ve ever seen (and in seven other roles, too). You may recognize him from one of the 12 other shows he has starred in at the Athens over the years, like “the old man” in A Christmas Story, the Musical, Gomez in The Addams Family, and Thenardier in Les Mis.

Seeing as Ware spent 12 years as a Ringling clown and as a student of Marcel Marceau — this is the perfect show to spotlight his flair for physical comedy!

Joining Ware on stage is the lovable comedic genius Nate Elliott, whom our audiences have been rightfully fawning over since he was a youngster in our youth productions.  Audiences will recognize him as a performer and the master of ceremonies in our recent streaming event “Virtually Yours,” as our wonderful Don Lockwood who sang in the rain in our Singin’ in the Rain, or as Ted Hanover in Holiday Inn (among numerous other Athens shows).

Rounding out this terrific trio is the up-and-coming Forrest Stringfellow, who will have you in stitches as he plays 19 different characters from Othello to Ophelia. Last seen on our stage in Guys and Dolls, we are hoping this will be Stringfellow’s first of many featured roles on our historic stage!

So, you may ask, what has the theater done to ensure your safety beyond requiring patrons to (properly) wear masks. From creating new socially distanced seating plans (cutting the seating capacity down to about 30 percent), creating new traffic patterns, reconstructing and enclosing our concession counter, placing barriers between urinals and sinks, placing 6-foot spacing decals on the floors and hand-sanitizer stations throughout, having professional air purifiers installed in our air handlers, to taking the temperature (with non-touch thermometers) of anyone entering the building, collecting disinfectants in order to have the theater sterilized prior to each performance, and omitting intermissions and staggering arrival times for patrons (to eliminate crowds gathering). The theater has tried to think of every way to make our audiences safe — so that they can laugh with abandon and enjoy a night out.

The Athens Theatre invites you to join them at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, for the opening night of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)[Revised]. Performances run through Sunday, Aug. 23, so if you can’t make it on opening night, come to any of the other performances and treat yourself to an outing — safely!

The historic Athens Theatre is at 124 N. Florida Ave. in Downtown DeLand.

Tickets are priced from $18 to $22. A $3-per-ticket processing charge will be added to each purchase.

To purchase your tickets in advance or find out more specific information about dates and times, visit the Athens Theatre website at www.AthensDeLand.com or call the box office at 386-736-1500. Box-office hours are 1-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and one-and-a half hours before live performances.

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