Actors' Theatre of Columbus' annual dinner gala will be followed by an evening of Shakespeare.

The tent party in Schiller Park will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, May 25, with a meal catered by Copious, a restaurant and entertainment venue in the Brewery District.

Tickets for the gala, which will seat 180, are $75 each and can be purchased online at theactorstheatre.org.

Alcohol will not be part of the gala, even though Columbus officials recently approved a change in law that allows open containers at events if certain conditions are met, said Philip K. Hickman, artistic director for Actors' Theatre.

That would have required Actors' Theatre to rope off a section of the park and check the identification of those attending the evening's festivities, he said.

"We just didn't think that would be a good idea," he said. "We will be doing that with some events in the future but this one, we think, runs counter to our 'free theater in the park' philosophy."

In addition to food, there will be a silent auction with merchandise from stores throughout central Ohio and visits by actors in the troupe who will be performing at future shows this season, Hickman said.

This year's theme is "Monsters & Men," which explores the dark side of humankind "and what we're afraid of," Hickman said.

"For me, I think what ties these two things together is this idea of monstrosity, what we fear," he said.

At 8 p.m., the theater company will perform "Macbeth," one of Shakespeare's most heralded works.

"It was a popular play when it debuted 400 years ago, and it's a popular play now," Hickman said. "It's got a lot in common with the summer blockbusters that we have now.

"It's play about ambition, murder and the supernatural," Hickman said. "And it's also a love story. I think part of the reason it's so popular is it has all these elements trapped into one. It's scary and it's funny and it's moving all at the same time."

The actual season starts at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 24 with the opening of "Macbeth," which will run Thursdays through Sundays through June 17. It will be followed by "Frankenstein," to be presented Thursdays through Sundays June 21 through July 15.

"Puss in Boots" is slated for Thursdays through Sundays July 19 through Aug. 5. The season will close with another Shakespeare classic, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," scheduled Thursdays through Sundays Aug. 9 through Sept. 2.

"I think what is really cool about our lineup this year is we start and end the season with two favorites -- one of them being the most performed and one of them being most popular," said Shaun Brown, president of Actors' Theatre's board of trustees.

"But in between, we have two stories people have often heard of -- Frankenstein and Puss in Boots -- and these are the original versions."

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