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Parental Guidance

We understand that many different factors go into a parent's decision-making process for determining whether a show is appropriate for their specific child. We want families to have a positive experience at the Olney Theatre Center and so rather than make blanket age recommendations for our shows, we have created this guide which in addition to general age recommendations, considers some of the relevant content that parents may be most concerned about.

2017-18 Presentations (click on a title to skip down):


 2017-18 Productions

In the Heights

Synopsis: Usnavi, the local proprietor of the corner bodega is our guide through a vibrant neighborhood of striving immigrants and young lovers, where hip-hop meets salsa and soul. He tells the story of Nina, a first-generation immigrant who returns to the old neighborhood after flunking out of Stanford.

Language: The words ”shit,” “damn,” “ass,” “sexy,” “bastard,” ”hell,” “skank,” and “ho,” are used liberally throughout.

Smoking, Drinking, and Drugs: Mentions of drinking alcohol, alcohol consumption to the point of intoxication onstage

Sex: Two characters have sex offstage, mentions of sex and extramarital affairs, including a homosexual one, mentions of condoms and female sanitary products, catcalling, sexual innuendos used frequently, allusions to prostitution, sexualization of women, kissing onstage.

Violence: Mentions of violence, a character punches another character, a robbery occurs offstage

For Which Audiences? Ages 13+

Rating: If this were a film, it would be rated PG-13 for adult language and mild sexuality.


Our Town

Synopsis: A stage manager narrates the lives of two families, the Webb and Gibbs, as their children, Emily and George, fall in love, get married, and eventually die in the small town of Grover’s Corners.

Language: The way in which Mr. Webb talks about women can be sexist.

Smoking, Drinking, and Drugs: References to drinking and being drunk. References to a young boy smoking cigarettes, but not seen onstage.

Sex: None

Violence: References to death and dead characters onstage, their deaths are not shown.

For Which Audiences? Ages 10+

Rating: If this were a film, it would be PG for mature themes of death and the fragility of life.



Synopsis: This musical follows Annie, a mistreated yet optimistic orphaned girl, who is thrust into the life of the rich and famous when a billionaire, Daddy Warbucks, takes her in for Christmas. Warbucks is surprised to find himself caring for the girl and decides to adopt her, though she’s still hoping to find her real parents.

Language: Mr. Warbucks’ makes numerous sexist remarks. The word “hell” is used sporadically and “damn” is used frequently.

Smoking, Drinking, and Drugs: Miss Hannigan drinks onstage on numerous occasions. A child mimics drinking and being drunk.

Sex: None

Violence: One child shoves another, causing a fight. Characters continually threaten violence against other characters. The way Miss Hannigan treats and talks about the orphans is abusive. One character suggests killing a child.

For Which Audiences? Ages 5+

Rating: Both film versions of Annie were rated PG but we recommend it for anyone over the age of 5.


A Christmas Carol

Synopsis: Ebenezer Scrooge lives a dismal life without family, friends, or a love for anything but money. One Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghost of his former business partner and then three spirits urging him to examine the state of his past, present, and future life. Based on the classic story by Charles Dickens.

Language: This production is a one-man show using the original text of Dickens' short story. The Victorian-era language may take some getting-used-to for younger audience members. The word “ass” is used in reference to a donkey. There is a lot of discussion surrounding death, including the death of the protagonist and a child.

Smoking, Drinking, and Gambling: Mention of beer, punch, and wine.

Sex: None.

Violence: None.

For Which Audiences? Families looking to celebrate the Christmas holiday or anyone who appreciates the writing of Charles Dickens.

Rating: If this was a movie, it would be rated G, although because of the format and Victorian language we recommend it for ages 10 and up. View more Frequently Asked Questions about this production.


Synopsis: Ray, a Korean-American man is struggling with his father’s failing health and the home hospice care which he now oversees. With the help of a nurse, his girlfriend, and his estranged uncle who speaks only Korean, he finds the strength to deal with the tragedy and realizes the importance food has over a culture and a family.

Language: The words “goddamn,” “fucking,” “fucked,” “shit,” “fuck,” “motherfucker,” “bullshit,” are all used frequently throughout. Some of the dialogue is in Korean and translations will be supertitled.

Smoking, Drinking, and Drugs: References to drinking and smoking cigarettes. Cigarettes smoked onstage.

Sex: None

Violence: Holding of kitchen knives, preparing/ attempting to kill an animal onstage, non-violent death is a heavy theme

For Which Audiences? Ages 15+

Rating: If this were a film, it would be R for mature themes and adult language.


Every Brilliant Thing

Synopsis: In an attempt to make their depressed mom feel better, a child starts keeping a list of “Every Brilliant Thing” in the world. With help from the audience, the narrator tells their story of how they were able to find pleasure in the small things when the big things got to be too much.

Language: None.

Smoking, Drinking, and Drugs: Mentions of smoking and drinking.

Sex: One mention of sex.

Violence: Numerous suicide attempts are discussed.

For Which Audiences? 13+

Rating: If this were a film, it would be rated PG-13.


The Crucible

Synopsis: A partially fictionalized account of the Salem Witch Trails that shows how quickly one could be accused of witchcraft. A group of young girls, led by Abigail Williams, claim they have been afflicted by witchcraft and hold the power to condemn those who have wronged them.

Language: Archaic sexist and violent language. The words “arse,” variations of ”damn,” “Hell,” “queer,” “whore,” and “harlot,” are used throughout.

Smoking, Drinking, and Drugs: Talk of drinking and smoking. One character enters drunk.

Sex: Talk of nudity, talk of an extramarital affair involving a young girl.

Violence: Many violent interactions, including a slap, a tackle, numerous shoves, and death threats throughout, including being hanged. There is a gun onstage. One character threatens another with a whip. Most of the violence is inflicted by men onto women. References to multiple characters killed offstage, by hanging, pressing, and ‘getting their heads smashed in.’ References to torture.

For Which Audiences? 13+

Rating: If this were a film, it would be rated PG-13 for mature themes, extreme emotions, actions and political allegories.


The Invisible Hand

Synopsis: Nick, an American banker with a head for the stock market, is being held captive by a Pakistani extremist group. In order to earn his own ransom, he helps his captors invest money and play the markets, resulting in unintended consequences.

Language: The words “arse,” “fucking,” “piss,” “bastard,” ”hell,” “shit,” “fucker,” “bloody,” “pussy,” “bitch,” and “cunt,” are used frequently.

Smoking, Drinking, and Drugs: Allusions to being drunk.

Sex: Allusions to rape, references to male organs, references to extramarital affairs.

Violence: An onstage gun is is pointed at a character; one character strikes another on multiple occasions; mentions of past violence; violent grabbing; violent threats; one character chokes another; sound of an offstage gunshot; sounds of an offstage explosion.

For Which Audiences? Ages 16+

Rating: If this were a film, it would be rated R for violence, mature language and opaque financial transactions.


On the Town

Synopsis: Gabey, Ozzie, and Chip are three sailors on a one-day leave in Manhattan. Eager to explore all that the city has to offer, they embark on a citywide search for the woman Gabey has deemed the most beautiful woman in New York City (based on a subway ad).

Language: The words “damn” and “hell” are used in songs.

Smoking, Drinking, and Drugs: Multiple characters drink onstage numerous times. One character is drunk onstage.

Sex: Much kissing. Allusions to past sexual encounters. 1940s-type sexualization of women along with mild double-entendres. Aggressive sexual advances. One female character is a burlesque dancer who performs onstage. One character is referred to as “ The Great Lover.” A choreographed seduction occurs onstage. A female’s character skirt is accidentally pulled off.

Violence: A small fight occurs onstage.

For Which Audiences? Ages 11+

Rating: If this were a film, it would be rated PG for mild sexuality.


The Pirates of Penzance

Synopsis: Frederic is released from his pirate apprenticeship at the age of 21, and tries to convince his fellow pirates to claim that they are orphans and escape to civilization with them. If they do not, Frederic will need to exterminate them from society for being pirates. He falls in love with a young girl named Mabel, but she is captured by the pirates with her sisters. Instead of freeing them, their Major-General father binds them closely to the pirates for protection by lying and saying that they have no one else in the world. Frederic becomes head of the police but then realizes that because he was born on February 29, he is not yet 21 and must still complete his pirate apprenticeship. When he rejoins the ship, he tells them that Mabel’s father lied to them, and the pirates swear revenge.

Language: The men treat the women as commodities for the duration of the play, declaring whom they shall marry and where they shall go.

Smoking, Drinking, and Gambling: The pirates drink and gamble, then sing about how wonderful that lifestyle is.

Sex: The young girls call themselves “maidens,” partially referring to their virginities.

Violence: The deaths of the pirates are discussed by multiple characters. The pirates forcibly kidnap a group of young girls. Mabel glorifies soldiers dying in battle through song. Frederic sings of his past actions of stealing and pillaging as a pirate, and the pirates sing about weapons. King and Ruth use pistols to subdue Frederic but never shoot them.

For Which Audiences? All ages. This is an extremely kid-friendly show, which encourages children to move around the playground-like set. The story is performed with some sexually suggestive staging, movements, and inflections as humor for the adults.

Rating: If this was a movie, it would be rated G because it is so much fun.


H.M.S. Pinafore

Plot Synopsis: A gender-swapped version of the Gilbert & Sullivan classic. Captain Cat Coran tries to marry her son to the lofty Admiral Dame Jo-Anne, but he falls in love with a lowborn sailress. This new, zany, version features versions of all the well-known H.M.S. Pinafore songs including “I’m Called Little Buttercup”.

Language: The lyrics of G&S songs use some archaic language which takes getting used to. 

Smoking, Drinking, Gambling: Yes.

Violence: Mostly just threatened in a jestful way.

For Which AudiencesAll ages. This is an extremely kid-friendly show, which encourages children to move around the playground-like set. The story is performed with some sexually suggestive staging, movements, and inflections as humor for the adults.

Rating: If this was a movie, it would be rated G because it is so much fun.