Olney Theatre Center announces 2023/24 season

The company's 85th season features underdog stories of upstarts, outsiders, and emigrés.

Olney Theatre Center announced its 85th season featuring four plays and four musicals that feature wildly entertaining stories chosen to speak to our current moment with humor, empathy, and optimism. The season includes past Tony Award-winners and nominees (Ink, Fiddler on the Roof, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), a world premiere based on an acclaimed young adult novel (Long Way Down), plays that push genre boundaries like horror (The Brothers Paranormal) and fuse traditional folklore with electronic vocal sampling and looping, (Islander: A New Musical), a gender-swapped revamp of an audience favorite (Ken Ludwig’s Lend Me a Soprano), and a wickedly funny and poignant solo performance that combines drag, food, and family history (Avaaz). Additionally, at its annual gala, Olney Theatre announced the renaming of its 428-seat house as the Roberts Mainstage, in acknowledgment of the ongoing generosity and support of Roberts Oxygen and Bob and Eveline Roberts. The Roberts Mainstage is one of four stages at Olney Theatre, including the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab, the 1938 Original Theatre, and the newly renovated Root Family Stage at Omi’s Pavilion, scheduled to open in July 2023.

The Olney Theatre Center campus

Said Olney Theatre’s Artistic Director Jason Loewith, “I’ve worked with our staff and the community around us to curate a season that speaks to diverse audiences, tackles tough issues, and never forgets that people want to leave the theater buoyed by creativity, humanity, and hope.” He continued, “So we’ll be ghost-hunting with a pair of Thai-American siblings in The Brothers Paranormal, celebrating the Iranian New Year in Avaaz, riding an elevator with a young Black man struggling to escape the cycle of gun violence in Long Way Down, and transforming a Scottish folktale into a living sonic tapestry in Islander.

“Our co-producing partnership with Round House Theatre in Bethesda continues with Ink – the most incisive play about the contemporary media landscape you’ll ever see. The funniest, too, as those who saw James Graham’s Labour of Love in 2018 will well-remember. I can’t wait to direct this Tony-nominated play with an ensemble featuring my colleague and fellow-artistic director Ryan Rillette, alongside Cody Nickell, Kate Eastwood Norris, and more! We’ll also continue our longstanding relationship with DMV native Ken Ludwig, who brings his newest fantastic farce to the Roberts Mainstage”

“And, of course, it wouldn’t be an Olney season without big musicals,” added Loewith. “And with Fiddler on the Roof, we’ve got one of the biggest ever. It’s never a bad time to do Fiddler. Still, with rising anti-Semitism, the war in Ukraine, and quickly evolving social changes roiling the culture, we felt this was a potent moment to take a reimagined look at Tevye, his daughters, and the people of Anatevka. Then, when summer comes around, we’ll all be ready for a good time with Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”

Of course, the most beloved add-on to the Olney season is the annual return to the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab of Paul Morella’s solo performance of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. This will be the 14th edition of the holiday favorite, a family tradition for many of our patrons who return Christmas after Christmas.

Curtain times for all Olney Theatre productions will change for the 2023-2024 Season. Most evening performances will begin at 7:30 pm and matinees at 1:30 pm. Also, select Sunday evening performances at 7:00 pm will be added to the schedule of each run.

In another change of note, complementary printed program books will only be available to Season and All-Access Members, as well as donors above the $ 100 level, and for purchase to all other patrons for $2. Digital programs will be available for free viewing and download for all patrons.

The four musicals and four plays form the heart of the Classic Membership season, available for patrons to purchase now online or via the box office (301-924-3400). Prices range for new members from $120 – $320, depending on the selected package. Olney’s All-Access Membership can be purchased for three months at a time and allows unlimited attendance at all Olney Theatre productions, presentations, and events during the purchased period. All-Access Memberships covering performances in the months of July, August and September will go on sale in June, along with single tickets. The All-Access memberships include admission to Olney’s summer program Olney Outdoors, which will be announcing its summer lineup in May.


by James Graham
directed by Jason Loewith
August 30 – September 24, 2023
Co-produced with and performed at Round House Theatre in Bethesda

London, 1969. A brash young Australian named Rupert Murdoch approaches journalist Larry Lamb with a staggeringly ambitious proposition: to turn the struggling paper The Sun into the best-selling tabloid in the UK…within a year. An unexpected partnership is born as Lamb and Murdoch assemble a team of scrappy underdog journalists and begin to transform The Sun into a populist juggernaut. Once they discover the formula to success, the consequences are thrilling and terrifying. This “riveting” (The Guardian) Tony Award-winning Broadway and West End hit depicts the birth of our hyper-partisan news culture in a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction drama that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Cast includes: Cody Nickell, Kate Eastwood Norris, Ryan Rillette

by Prince Gomolvilas
co-directed by Hallie Gordon and Aria Velz
September 27 – October 29, 2023
Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab

Prepare to be thrilled, chilled, and moved! For Halloween, Olney Theatre is home to a modern horror story of family, migration, and the spirits that haunt us. It’s 2007, and Thai-American brothers Max and Visarut haven’t had a single case for their paranormal investigation business since they opened. Finally, their first customer arrives: Delia, a Black woman who thinks a Thai-speaking ghost is haunting her house for reasons unknown. Max is happy to sign her up for a deluxe investigation package, but when the brothers visit Delia and her husband Felix at home, strange things begin to happen.

Based on Sholem Aleichem stories by special permission of Arnold Perl
Book by Joseph Stein
Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Produced on the New York Stage by Harold Prince
Original New York Stage Production Directed and Choreographed by Jerome Robbins
Directed by Peter Flynn
November 8, 2023 – December 31, 2023
Roberts Mainstage

Tradition! The word itself is synonymous with this most classic of American musicals, set in the tiny shtetl of Anatevka. People all over the world continue to find universal truths in the story of Tevye and his headstrong, tradition-bucking daughters (just Google “Fiddler on the Roof, Japan”). Now Olney Theatre creates a rich and re-imagined Fiddler for a new generation to embrace through unforgettable songs like “If I Were a Rich Man,” “To Life,” and “Sunrise, Sunset.” Like Tevye himself, this Fiddler knows the power of its traditional highlights, but like his daughters Tzeitel, Hodel, and Chava – it also may surprise you with new ways of carrying forward its spirit.

by Ken Ludwig
Directed by Eleanor Holdridge
February 7 – March 10, 2024
Roberts Mainstage

Master of comedy and farce, Ken Ludwig, has adapted his Tony Award-winning Broadway hit Lend Me A Tenor for a new generation, with the genders swapped. The hilarious result is Lend Me A Soprano! It’s 1934, and world-famous Italian soprano Elena Firenzi, the biggest star of her era, is in town for a one-night-only concert with the Cleveland Grand Opera Company. The gala performance is the apex of general manager Lucille Wylie’s career, and she’s given her assistant Jo one job – keep Elena away from men and liquor until the curtain rises. But when events spiral out of Jo’s control, she’s got one chance to set everything right.

Cast includes: Natascia Diaz and Donna Migliaccio

written and performed by Michael Shayan
directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel
March 6 – April 7, 2024
Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab

Avaaz invites you to meet Roya, our fabulous hostess, as she welcomes you into her home to celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. She’s preparing dinner, but the true feast is the story of her life: beginning in Iran as part of that country’s small but ancient Jewish community, her epic journey out of Tehran after the revolution, and the challenges she faces as an immigrant and the single mother of a queer son in “Tehran-geles” (formerly known as Westwood). As a Jew in Iran and an Iranian in America, Roya relies on a heavy dose of humor, both in her storytelling and her survival. Most significantly, Roya is portrayed by her adult son and the author of Avaaz, Michael Shayan, in a solo performance that combines masterful storytelling with a loving tribute.

Conceived and Directed by Amy Draper
Associate Direction by Eve Nicol
Book by Stewart Melton
Music and Lyrics by Finn Anderson
April 11 – April 28, 2024
Roberts Mainstage
Produced by Setasea LLC, Helen Milne Productions, Theatre Royal Plymouth, and Dundee Rep Theatre

Winner of Best New Musical at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Islander tells a modern myth featuring two actors who use live mixing and looping technology to create a sonic landscape as dramatic as the Scottish coastline. Eilidh is the only child on Kinnan Island, where most of the dwindling population has moved to the “Big Land.” The government has proposed to resettle the rest, and the town must vote soon on whether or not to accept the offer. But the day after a baby whale beaches itself, Eilidh discovers a young girl named Arran along the shore, who seems straight out of Scottish folklore. As the two form a friendship, Islander takes audiences on a magical journey to transcend loss, recover hope, and find community.

Book, music, and lyrics by Dahlak Brathwaite
Additional writing by Khiyon Hursey
Adapted from the bestselling novel by Jason Reynolds
Co-choreographed by Ken-Matt Martin and Victor Musoni
Directed by Ken-Matt Martin
May 22 – June 23, 2024
Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab
In association with TheaterWorksUSA and Edgewood

Growing up, Will’s big brother taught him three iron-clad rules of how to behave when gun violence claims someone close: Don’t cry. Don’t snitch. Get revenge. So when his brother is himself gunned down, Will is determined to follow the code and gets in the elevator on the top floor of his apartment building, armed and ready to hit the streets in search of vengeance. What happens on the way down is an emotional hip-hop journey through the cycles of violence that have plagued Will’s family and too many others. This Rolling World Premiere musical is based on the Newberry Medal Honor-winning Young Adult novel by DMV native Jason Reynolds. This powerful story is being developed in partnership with The Apollo through their New Works Program and will be presented in Apollo’s new Victoria space after its limited Olney Theatre engagement.

Book by Douglas McGrath
Words and Music by Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil
Directed by Amy Anders Corcoran
July 3 – August 25, 2024
Roberts Mainstage

Before Carole King became the legendary singer-songwriter who helped define an era, she was a 16-year-old Brooklyn kid named Carole Klein trying to sell her songs to the big hitmakers in Times Square. When she meets a fellow Queens College student named Barry Goffin, she gains the perfect lyricist for her music – and the love of her life. Soon Carole and Barry are churning out hits like “Take Good Care of My Baby,” “Up On A Roof, ”and “Will You (Still) Love Me Tomorrow” for acts like the Shirelles and The Drifters. But success in music doesn’t necessarily bring happiness, and as Barry spirals out of control, Carole will need to find the strength to take back control of her life and career.

A Ghost Story of Christmas
Adapted and Performed by Paul Morella
November 24 – December 31, 2023
Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Paul Morella’s stunning solo rendition of Charles Dickens’s classic tale that represents everything great about the holiday. This is A Christmas Carol in its purest form, with 99% of the text drawn directly from the original novella. Even more impressive, Morella’s theatrical portrayal of over 50 characters honors how Dickens himself would tour the world reciting the story. Now in its fourteenth holiday season, the show is a family tradition throughout the region and a gem constantly being discovered by new audiences.


Mission: Olney Theatre Center for the Arts produces and curates theatrical performance for the diverse audiences in its community, and educates, learns from, supports and inspires a more inclusive generation of theater-makers. Vision: Olney strives to become an arts and culture powerhouse, redefining the American regional theater movement by cultivating and sharing the creativity of its community.

History: 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 Olney’s founding in 1938, some of the biggest names in theatre have appeared on its 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, and 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.


  1. Seeing Kinky Boots at the Olney was fabulous!!!
    I saw it on Broadway. Olney was every bit as good, if not BETTER.

    Thanks, Paula Kahn


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