Actors' Theatre of Columbus has delayed its 2020 season opening to June 18 because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic but still intends to perform all four plays this season.

"We don't want to endanger any of our actors or crew when it comes to the rehearsal process, and that rehearsal process starts several weeks before the performances," said Philip J. Hickman, artistic director for the German Village-based company.

The summer production season now is scheduled to begin June 18 with the opening of "King Lear" in the amphitheater at Schiller Park in German Village.

"Under normal circumstances, we would be rehearsing for the first show already," Hickman said.

He said he still anticipates the opening gala -- a party held prior to the first Friday show -- to be held June 19. Details and updates regarding the current season will be posted at theactorstheatre.org.

All plays will be performed Thursdays through Sundays for three weeks instead of four so the theater group can fit in the entire season of "Royals," this year's theme.

"The Great Gatsby" is scheduled to open July 9, "Queen Margaret" on July 30 and season finale "The Way of the World" on Aug. 20.

All shows will be free and open to the public.

Hickman said this is the first time he can recall a season being delayed for any reason.

"It's a very unique circumstance," he said. "Because there is so much uncertainty about how things are going to go for the next few weeks, we thought it would be better to go ahead and make the decision and delay now instead of hope for the best and run into a major problem later."

On a related note, Actors' Theatre plans to livestream performances of "Shakespeare Underground," a periodic recitation of a classic play.

Hickman said the schedule would be posted online when details emerge.

Jodi Marmion, president of the Actors' Theatre's board of trustees, said although the season's "a little shorter, it's just the same as every year.

"I am really hopeful and really positive," Marmion said. "It's a very strange situation we're in.

"From everything I've read, I feel really confident we're going to be ready to go this summer."

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary