EARLY— More than five months of work will go into two performances as the Early High School drama department presents “The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)” Thursday and Saturday.

Megan Bynum, Taylor Turner and Kaedon Robertson held a dress rehearsal Tuesday afternoon inside the Early High School auditorium, ironing out the final kinks hour-and-a-half show before Thursday’s 6:30 p.m. performance.

 “Theatre is a passion and not something we take halfheartedly,” Bynum said. “It’s an escape, not only for us. It’s also an escape for the audience. They get to come into the world and see something fun. We get to entertain them and help them escape their everyday lives.”

‘The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)’ is just that, an hour-and-a-half performance of William Shakespeare’s work in short, comedic routines. Whether a cooking show staring Titus Andronicus or a very Scottish version of Macbeth, each segment required intense research to understand the subject and the play’s deep-cut inside jokes.

“We did research on all of the lines we did not understand and any of the inside jokes we made sure we understood so the audience would get it,” Bynum said. “For us, a lot of the information came from Mrs. (Amber) Jones and my dad, Austin Bynum, because they are Shakespeare gurus. And some of it came from Peggy Morales, one of the English teachers here. We had a lot of local people telling us what the jokes mean and why it’s funny so we can deliver it correctly.”

With the cast limited to three stage performers and a slew of backstage assistants, Turner said the entire cast grew close and putting five months of work into two performances, then moving on will not be easy.

“I was really close with Kaedon before all of this stuff happened,” she said. “It was because of theatre class, but Megan has really grown on me. She’s my girl. I’m so happy she’s in my life. When you are [on stage] for countless hours, you develop a bond together. I remember we criticized each other so much early on. We would clash every week. Now, we’re always up there cracking jokes.”

Thursday’s premiere also features drama students performing scenes from famous Shakespeare works. Next year, the program will expand from one play each year to three and Turner said she is happy to be a part of an enthusiastic group of student actors moving the drama department forward, along with the efforts of EHS English and Theater Arts Teacher Amber Jones.

“As a group, we’re trying to set the ground work and, as a group, seem like we’re taking it a lot more serious,” Turner said. “A lot of people in our school think, ‘Oh it’s just some art geeks,’ but we’re really trying to set the stage where we are wholeheartedly passionate about this.”

Jones believes those attending Thursday’s premiere, or the final performances 2 p.m. Saturday, are in for a great show. After seeing everything her students went through in preparing for their only show of the year, Jones said she cannot wait until that effort is rewarded on stage Thursday and Saturday.

“It’s like angels singing from heaven,” Jones said. “There were so many times we thought it was going to crash and burn. In the end, with all of their hard work, these guys came together and made it work. They care about the outcome and because they care is why it’s going to be amazing. I am so grateful for their time and effort.”