Iconic Athens Theatre welcomes audiences for first time in 5 months

Live performances have added safety measures due to COVID-19

DeLAND, Fla. – The iconic Athens Theatre in DeLand will turn its stage lights back on for audiences Wednesday night.

All shows were cancelled for five months due to the coronavirus, but theater staff said they spent their time and money preparing for a safe and new environment.

“Everybody’s working together to try and bring this town back to life and make it through this hard time,” said Alexa Baldwin, Athens Theatre director of marketing and operations.

Athens Theatre is considered the heart of downtown DeLand and Baldwin is hoping the live performances that are also incorporating safety measures will help boost the local economy.

“Every time we go back stage. We’re sanitizing, we’re spraying. It’s a Lysol show,” quipped actor Alan Ware.

Ware is one of the three actors who are performing in the show called The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) [Revised]. He’s also the facility manager who is responsible for spraying down seats and building different kinds of props.

"I've had to build partitions. I've had to totally encase our concession," he said.

The theater also invested in commercial air purifiers and spent thousands of dollars on social distancing stickers for a space that usually holds around 450 people, but only 160 will be allowed inside.

"We have strategically placed each ticketed group of people so they are at least six feet away from another ticketed group," said Baldwin.

Baldwin said it’s been a financial struggle, investing in cleaning and protecting without ever lifting the curtain. She said they lost $425,000 over the last five months.

Knowing that the show will now go on was worth it, according to Baldwin.

"Goodness knows, the economy can use a boost and this is a very close knit town," she said. "We're extremely excited to be able to open our doors and do what we do. This is our little way of trying to in a safe way, get back to a new normal."

For more information and tickets, visit https://athensdeland.com/

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