Actors' Theatre of Columbus' next performance involves a classic tale of betrayal, guile and bitter retribution, with a gender change in the lead role.

Actors' Theatre of Columbus' next performance involves a classic tale of betrayal, guile and bitter retribution, with a gender change in the lead role.

The local troupe swaps Edmond Dantes with Amelia Dantes, the female character in The Countess of Monte Cristo, adapted from Alexander Dumas' famous piece of literature.

The show begins at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 23, and will be performed at the same time Thursdays through Sundays through July 17 in Schiller Park.

All performances are free and open to the public.

Philip J. Hickman, artistic director of Actors' Theatre, said the script draws heavily from the original, unabridged novel, the "Count of Monte Cristo."

The plot and setting -- 19th century France and other parts of Europe -- remain intact.

In the latest performance, as with the book, the countess is betrayed by her fiance and those close to her.

She is imprisoned for more than a decade. She escapes from prison, amasses a fortune and plans retribution against those who plotted against her.

But it becomes more complicated, as innocent people are swept up in the retaliation.

"The story is really about what revenge does to a person's spirit," Hickman said.

Jennifer Feather Youngblood, director of the play, wrote the script.

A female lead role creates a new level of intrigue, Hickman said.

"We felt everyone should be represented heroically on stage," he said.

"Using this as an opportunity to create a little more equality on stage was important to us."

McLane Nagy will make her debut with the theater company when she plays Amelia Dantes.

"When I read the script I was kind of blown away," Nagy said.

"It opens up all these new avenues of relationships, exploration for the main character."