Anderson County Community Theatre (ACCT) opens the play adaptation of Stephen King’s “Misery” June 24. With plenty of gore, suspense and intensity, viewers are sure to stay engaged through the cast’s upcoming performance.

“Misery” follows the kidnapping of famous writer Paul Sheldon after being pulled from a crashed car by his number one fan, Annie Wilkes. Wilkes holds Sheldon captive in her home while forcing him to write a sequel to his latest publication, “Misery’s Child.”

Even though “Misery” only has a cast of three, the show’s planning, production and rehearsals have been no easy feat. With a grueling schedule, along with multiple COVID-19 scares and precautions, the actors have been dealing with a very crammed schedule.

Community theater veteran Breck Reliford, who portrays leading man Paul Sheldon, highlighted the difficulty the cast faced getting together. Since none of the actors are Anderson County residents, rising gas prices proved to be a challenge.

“The hardest part is just, I mean, you know getting together,” Reliford said. “But once we get here, it’s all great.”

Rehearsals started in April, but technical support such as microphones and small lighting cues were used for the first time June 16, just one week before opening night. Though there are small changes director Angi Robinson hopes to make before opening night, she is confident in her cast’s ability to deliver a stellar performance.

“It’s not a finished product, but it’s pretty good. Once we add sound effects and lights, that will make all the difference,” Robinson said.

One change Katie Followell, who portrays Annie Wilkes, hopes to see? “More blood.” During rehearsal June 16, Followell decided to take a practice run with prop blood during a physical scene. Her scene partner, Reliford, said he was “totally freaked out” and was worried he had hit Followell in the nose.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, actors had to follow strict precautions to keep each other safe. This made up more physical scenes difficult to portray onstage.

Followell said she is excited to finally be able to get up close and personal with her fellow cast mates, since the COVID-19 pandemic did not allow such close acting. Reliford shared that he is happy to be back with his theater family after two and a half years.

“I think COVID changed your DNA a little bit and made it hard to do this kind of stuff,” Reliford shared. “It’s nice that now I can get back onstage with my theater family which is big and happy.”

Jim Neeley, who portrays Sheriff Buster, has previously worked with Reliford on almost a dozen performances. Neeley and Reliford agreed that “Misery” takes an emotional toll on all involved in the production. Neeley originally auditioned for the role of Paul Sheldon but, said he was relieved when it went to Reliford instead.

“Angi picked the two perfect people for these roles,” Neeley said. “I auditioned for Paul and [Robinson] picked Breck, I was excited to just kick back and play Buster.”