Olney Theatre’s open-air summer is open invitation to all

'Olney Outdoors' offers something for everyone, live on the Root Family Stage.

“Olney Outdoors,” Olney Theatre Center’s massive and diverse program of live summer events, begins July 2, 2021, on the open-air Root Family Stage.

Kevin McAllister

Olney Outdoors will be an open invitation for people of different races, cultures, classes, statuses, genders, religions, and social acceptance to share a common space where our new programs will celebrate bringing together both our likenesses and differences in a positive light,” said Kevin McAllister, who curated the season.

“From jazz, cabarets, drag balls, and songs of worship to spoken word, musical theater, open mics, Theatre for Young Audiences, and dance, there is something for everyone and we welcome the chance to sit under the stars and find joy in our commonalities together.”

Tent-pole free events include the BIPOC-majority company of National Players two-week run of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a live edition of Just Arts, and the return Labor Day weekend of OTC’s annual open house: SummerFest. Tickets are available now at olneyoutdoors.LIVE.

Kicking off Olney Outdoors and their 72nd season with a free production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (July 2–11), is National Players, a unique ensemble based at Olney Theatre and bringing innovative productions to communities large and small across the United States. This season marks the ensemble’s first BIPOC-majority company, which in addition to Midsummer, will mount a production of A Raisin in the Sun over Labor Day Weekend indoors in OTC’s 1938 Original Theatre. The company will then tour both shows across America during the 2021–22 school year.

Root Family Stage set design by Milagros Ponce de Leon

Following the opening run of Midsummer, Kevin McAllister, Olney’s Director of Curated Programs produces a new, live, two-evening edition of Just Arts: A Celebrations of Arts and Activism, which began as an online series last fall centering BIPOC artists. While past editions have focused on pillars of social justice, these new performances take up the theme of “Heritage” with the performance on Friday, July 16, titled, “My Heritage, My History” and the following night Saturday, July 17, titled “My Heritage, My Future.” Another international, online version of Just Arts is currently in the works, with dates and details to be announced shortly.

In the later part of July, Olney Outdoors gets into a regular rhythm. Free Wednesdays give audiences the opportunity to get on their feet with Dance Around the World (July 21 & 28), hear top poets and storytellers (and even try out their own verse during the open mic) at Sip ‘n’ Slam (August 4 & 11), and be amazed by the extravagant costumes and outsize personalities at Olney in Drag (August 18 & 25), featuring lovable, local divas. In case of rain, Wednesday programs will be rescheduled to the next night, on Thursday.

CHR Project by Charles Renato

The Andrew A. Isen Cabaret Series makes its home on Friday nights (July 23 – September 3) with some of the best of DC theater being paired in unexpected combinations, such as Awa Sal Secka with Bobby Smith (July 23), Donna Migliaccio with Nova Y. Payton (August 6), and Malinda Kathleen Reese with Alan Wiggins (August 27). In the event of rain, the program will be moved indoors to the Olney Mainstage.

Saturdays belong to Jazz@Olney, a series co-curated by Mark G. Meadows, which features established and rising stars of the DMV jazz scene, and kicks off with Rochelle Rice (July 24), who lately toured with Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Weekend mornings at 10:00 am and 12:00 pm feature performances from local troupes producing theatre for young audiences, highlighted by a three-week residence of Imagination Stage’s Paper Dreams, which is free to attend thanks to PNC Bank. (Other shows in this series cost $12 per person.)

Sing Praise! on Sunday afternoons presents performances from groups emanating from different faith and cultural traditions, beginning with the gospel of Charles Butler & Trinity (July 25), the Balkan and North African Jewish traditions of Trio Sefardi (August 1), and the Taoist-influenced improvisations of Chao Tian and Tom Teasley (August 15).

The season winds down with the return of SummerFest on Saturday, September 4 — OTC’s annual open house — which returns after a pandemic-induced year off. Featuring a full day of performances, workshops, a used costume sale, food trucks, talks, and tours, this community gathering is the perfect way to polish off the summer. We’ll also end as we began, with a free National Players production — this time of A Raisin in the Sun, all weekend, indoors in our 1938 Original Theater.

Mark G. Meadows

Olney Outdoors Schedule (also available at olneyoutdoors.LIVE)

Unless noted, all events are outdoors on Olney Theatre’s Root Family Stage. All programs subject to change. Raindate for Wednesday night programs is the following Thursday night.

In case of rain, all other programs will be moved inside to the Mainstage with distancing.

National Players
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Friday, Saturday, Sunday at 7:30 pm
July 2-11


Just Arts Live!
Part I: My Heritage, My History
Friday, July 16
Part II: My Heritage, My Future
Saturday, July 17
7:00 pm

BIPOC artists reflect on cultural history, memory, and legacy in a live performance companion to our online series. Featuring: Explicit Dance Works, Christopher Michael Richardson, Bakari Wilder, JonJon Johnson, Ashley King, Tariq Moelly, Ayesis Clay.

Wednesday Night Programs
(Thursday Rain Dates)
All shows at 7:30 pm

Dance Around the World
Dancers bring different corners of the world — India, West Africa, China, Brazil, and even NYC — to Olney for two Wednesdays full of rhythm, movement, and passion.

Wednesday, July 21
Dance Around the World Part I
Christina Camacho & Co.
KanKouran West African Dance

Wednesday, July 28
Dance Around the World Part II
Company E
Xuejuan – Chinese Dance Ensemble
CHR Project by Charles Renato

Sip ‘n’ Slam
Enjoy a drink while listening to these expert storytellers and slam poets. Consider signing up for the open mic session when you arrive if you have a poem or short story to share. 

Wednesday, August 4
Sip ‘n’ Slam Part I
Hosted by Simply Sherri
Black Root
Regie Cabico
Carlynn Newhouse

Wednesday, August 11
Sip ‘n’ Slam Part II
Hosted by Simply Sherri
Vijai Nathan
Amin Drew Law
Charity Blackwell

Olney in Drag
Lip-syncing, dancing, and costume extremes are guaranteed.

Wednesday, August 18
Olney in Drag Part I
Brooklyn Heights
Betty O’Hellno
Ariel Von Quinn
Evon Michelle

Wednesday, August 25
Olney in Drag Part II
Kristina Kelly
Tiara Missou
Echinacea Monroe

Andrew A. Isen Cabaret Series
All Shows Fridays at 7:30 pm
$30/$25 members

Friday, July 23
Awa Sal Secka
Bobby Smith

Friday, July 30
Ines Nassara
Tracy Lynn Olivera

Friday, August 6
Donna Migliaccio
Nova Payton

Friday, August 13
Rayanne Gonzales
Rayshun Lamarr

Friday, August 20
Greg Maheu
Vishal Vaidya

 Friday, August 27
Malinda Kathleen Reese
Alan Wiggins

Weekends — Theatre for Young Audiences
Performances at 10:00 am and 12:00 pm
Cost: $12 (except for Paper Dreams)


Saturday, July 24
Disney Sing-A-Long
Young Artists of America

Saturday & Sunday, July 31 – August 1
PNC Presents Paper Dreams
Imagination Stage

Saturday & Sunday, August 7-8
PNC Presents Paper Dreams
Imagination Stage

Saturday & Sunday, August 14-15
PNC Presents Paper Dreams
Imagination Stage

Saturday, August 21
Rick Spacey: Space Detective
Only Make Believe Theatre
(sensory friendly)

Saturday, August 28
Stoopkid Stories

Saturday Nights – Jazz@Olney
All shows at 7:30 pm
$30/$25 members

Saturday, July 24
Rochelle Rice

Saturday, July 31
Christie DaShiell

Saturday, August 7
Elijah Jamal Balbed

Saturday, August 14
Akua Allrich

Saturday, August 21
Warren Wolf

Saturday, August 28
Mark G. Meadows

Sing Praise!
Sundays at 5:00 pm
Cost $15
Faith-inspired performances from local and national performers represent an opportunity to connect across the many cultures present in our community. 

Sunday, July 25
Charles Butler & Trinity

Sunday, August 1
Trio Sefardi/Vladimir Fridman

Sunday, August 8
Baltimore Choral Arts Society

Sunday, August 15
Chao Tian and Tom Teasley

Sunday, August 22

Sunday, August 29

A Raisin in the Sun
September 2-4
1938 Original Theatre
Pay-What-You Want
September 2, 3 & 4 at 7:30
September 4 at 2:00 pm



Olney Theatre Center for the Arts produces and curates theatrical performance for the diverse audiences in our community, and educates, learns from, supports and inspires a more inclusive generation of theater-makers.

We strive to become an arts and culture powerhouse, redefining the American regional theater movement by cultivating and sharing the creativity of our community.

Once a summer stock retreat in rural Maryland, Olney Theatre Center is now an award-winning, year-round regional theatre surrounded in a 15-mile radius by 1.6 million people representing three of the most ethnically diverse counties in America. Since our founding in 1938, some of the biggest names in theatre have appeared on our stages: from “Golden Era” stars like Helen Hayes and Tallulah Bankhead to contemporary artists like Sir Ian McKellen, Robin De Jesús, and many others. OTC welcomed Artistic Director Jason Loewith and Managing Director Debbie Ellinghaus in 2013 and 2014, respectively, who established a new artistic strategy to broaden programming with the goal of nurturing a diversity of voices and audiences. Olney Theatre Center now produces musicals and plays under the three rubrics of Classic, Contemporary and Family programming. Since 2013 Olney Theatre Center has twice won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Musical Production, the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play and presented six world premieres. Complementing this work, OTC fulfills its mission as a teaching theater with educational programs like the Our Play program in local 5th grade classrooms, a summer camp and a year-round professional apprentice program. National Players, now in its 72nd Season, is the hallmark outreach program of OTC, a unique ensemble touring innovative theater to communities large and small across the United States.

SEE ALSO: Olney’s outdoor summer programming to uphold its anti-racism pledge


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here