SCENES FROM A NIGHTMARE — Annie Wilkes is incredibly protective of those she loves. PHOTOS COURTESY MIKE KITAIF AND THE STUDIO CREATIVE GROUP

Where nightmares become reality

BY SANTI GABINO JR.

Prepare to descend into a world where nightmares morph into reality. Toss aside the familiar adage, “If you love something, set it free …” Instead, embrace Annie Wilkes’ chilling philosophy, “If you love something, seize it, imprison it, and keep the key.”

This upcoming autumn, perfectly timed with the season of shadows, from Friday, Sept. 22, through Sunday, Oct. 15, the Athens Theatre in DeLand will plunge you into a realm of unrivaled theatrical terror. Brace yourself for the harrowing adaptation of Stephen King’s masterpiece, Misery. This experience will send shivers down your spine, inject your heart with fright, and delve into the darkest corners of the mind. Follow the descent into the abyss of the psyche, where the most disquieting thoughts reside.

Misery unfurls with Annie Wilkes, the self-proclaimed “No. 1 fan” of acclaimed author Paul Sheldon. Wilkes is portrayed with a haunting brilliance by Sarah Humbert (Mrs. White in Clue, Truvy in Steel Magnolias at the Shoestring Theatre, and Madame Thenardier in Les Misérables, among others).

The cast of Stephen King’s “Misery” are Fernando Borrego as Sheriff Buster, Christopher de Jongh as Paul Sheldon and Sarah Humbert as Annie Wilkes.
Paul works frantically during his confinement in hopes of pleasing Annie.

From the aftermath of a car crash in the desolate wilderness emerges Sheldon, brought to life by the enthralling Christopher de Jongh (most recently Phoebus in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lonnie in Rock of Ages, and Rooster in Annie). What commences as a fortunate rescue swiftly descends into a horrifying spiral, as Annie’s fixation on Paul’s fictional creation, Misery Chastain, mutates into a perverse obsession.

Trapped within the walls of Annie’s isolated mountain home, the psychological warfare between captor and captive ensnares both characters and the audience, intertwining them in a maddening dance of terror and suspense.

Audiences will remember Kathy Bates’ 1991 Oscar win for her knockout performance in the film adaptation of the book. The role of Annie Wilkes was quite unconventional for an Oscar-winning performance. It’s rare for actors to win awards for roles in horror or thriller films. Bates’ performance in Misery showcased her ability to seamlessly blend moments of intense psychological turmoil with quieter, subtler moments of vulnerability. A role that Sarah embodies perfectly.

Portraying the role of Sheriff Buster is Fernando Borrego, the county sheriff who stands as Paul’s potential savior. A newcomer to the Athens Theatre family, Borrego’s diverse background in theater, film and television seamlessly weaves brilliantly into this tale of unraveled insanity.

Guiding this haunting production is Trevor Southworth, a master of his craft who has previously directed a range of unforgettable performances, including Scrooge, The Musical!, Sister Act, The Producers and A Christmas Story.

Prepare to plunge into the bottomless depths of the human mind. Watch in terror as Stephen King’s bestselling book unfolds its horrors on the stage of the Athens Theatre. Embracing King’s legacy of bone-chilling storytelling, this masterpiece resurfaces in a manner that brutally stretches the boundaries of your deepest fears. Yet, this extends beyond the confines of the stage — it’s a visceral plunge into your most convoluted anxieties, an odyssey through the festering darkness that writhes within your innermost dread.

As the boundary between reality and illusion dissolves, you’ll feel the unrelenting pulse of deranged psychological fervor. Now, come on, show us you’re our No. 1 fan.

There will be a special audio-described performance Sunday, Oct. 1, and a special ASL/English-interpreted performance Friday, Oct. 6.

Note: Rated R, this play is recommended for mature audiences only. We strongly urge parents to reconsider bringing their children to this play, due to its extreme profanity and graphic bloody violence.

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