Stirring new production turns sworn enemies into unlikely friends


'The Best of Enemies' play is based on the same-titled book by Osha Gray Davidson.

Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF and the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida present "The Best of Enemies" from Oct. 15 – Nov. 16, in the Goldman Theater. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the passage and signing of the Civil Rights Act, the powerful new play by Mark St. Germain exposes the poison of prejudice and the beauty of friendship. Single tickets to "The Best of Enemies" ($10 - $45) are available now by calling (407) 447-1700, visiting, or in person at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 East Rollins Street.

Based on the bestselling book by Osha Gray Davidson, "The Best of Enemies" is a true story about the relationship between C.P. Ellis, a grand cyclops of the KKK, and Ann Atwater, an African-American civil rights activist, during the 1971 court-ordered desegregation of the Durham, North Carolina schools. Forced to co-lead a steering committee that represents all community viewpoints, Atwater and Ellis must face each other, and in doing so, are forced to face the best and worst in themselves.

"After reading "The Best of Enemies," I knew that it needed to be part of our 26th Season," said artistic director Jim Helsinger. "The play's depiction of hate and racism may seem so far from where we've come, but the lessons these characters learn will still prove timely for today's audiences."

"The Best of Enemies" features Corey Allen as Bill Riddick, Avis-Marie Barnes as Ann Atwater, Richard B. Watson as C.P. Ellis, and Anna Carol as Mary Ellis. The Orlando Shakes production team includes director Mark Routhier, scenic designer Bob Philips, lighting designer Kevin Griffin, costume designer Kristina Tollefson, sound designer George Hamrah, and video/projection designer Andrew Mulkey.

Performance information and related events

Preview Dates: Oct. 15 & 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Opening Date: Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

Senior Matinees: Oct. 22 & 29 at 2 p.m .; Nov. 5 & 12 at 2 p.m.

$20 Under 30: Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Opening night party and pre-show chat-Friday, Oct. 17

Arrive at 6:15 p.m. to mingle with members of the audience and enjoy free appetizers from Rogue Pub and dessert bites from Raphsodic Bakery. Then meet at the Patron's Room at 6:45 p.m. for a brief discussion about the creative process with the director and members of the artistic team. The party begins at 6:15 p.m. and is free to all opening night ticket holders. No RSVP necessary.

Sunday talk back - Oct. 26

Stay after the 2 p.m. matinee performance for an informal Q&A with the cast and members of the design team.

Special event performance-Sunday, Oct. 26

Sponsored by Solomon F. Schick & Associates and Orlando Hard Rock Café, at 7:30 p.m., with all proceeds benefitting the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida. This ticketed event includes a pre-show reception beginning at 6 p.m. and a special introduction by Pamela Woodley, whose mother was a community and civil rights activist, and among the first to join the 1962 lawsuit to desegregate Orange County Public Schools. General admission tickets ($100) can be reserved by calling (407) 447-1700 or purchased online at

Ticket information

Tuesday - Saturday at 7:30 p.m .; Sunday at 2 p.m. – $20, $35, $45

Preview Performances and Senior Matinees – $10, $17, $22


Group Sales: 20% off groups of 10+

Student Rush: $12 - 30 minutes prior to show w/ valid student ID

Military/Student Price: $10 off single ticket prices (Only available in Sections A and B)

The Best of Enemies is presented in partnership with the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida through the generosity of Valerie and Jim Shapiro.


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