BOX OFFICE: 301-924-3400
Applause Concert Series

One-night only concert versions of musicals we think are worth a second look featuring large orchestras and top talent.


Anyone Can Whistle

Friday, October 12, 2018

Book by Arthur Laurents

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

The story of a corrupt mayor (originally played by Angela Lansbury) who fakes a miracle to revitalize her bankrupt town. A legendary cult show, this wacky, intelligent, highly unconventional musical points ahead to Stephen Sondheim's groundbreaking work in the 1970s, even as it keeps a foot firmly rooted in musical theatre's "golden age."


Finian’s Rainbow

Friday, March 15, 2019

Book by E. Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy
Music by Burton Lane
Lyrics by E. Y. Harburg

A blend of romantic fantasy and social commentary, Finian's Rainbow follows the adventures of an Irishman and his daughter, who hope to strike it rich in America. This American treasure of a score features classics like  “Ol’ Devil Moon” and “How are Things in Glocca Morra?”



Children of Eden

Friday, August 2, 2019

Book by John Caird
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Based on a concept by Charles Lisanby

From the celebrated composer of Wicked, Pippin,and Godspell comes this family-friendly biblical reboot with a marvellous score. Adam, Eve, Noah and the "Father" who created them deal with the headstrong, cataclysmic actions of their respective children.


Harassment Free Workplace

Olney Theatre Center for the Arts - Anti-Harassment Affirmation


Olney Theatre Center Corporation/Olney Theatre Center for the Arts (“Olney Theatre

Center”) strives for a workplace environment that fosters mutual trust and is free of

intimidation, oppression and abuse. Our mission is fulfilled by nurturing an atmosphere

that inspires creativity and collaboration, promotes empathy, and celebrates the human

spirit. Therefore, it is our top priority to establish and maintain work conditions in which

all people are treated with dignity, decency and respect.


We are appalled by the allegations and confirmed accounts of sexual harassment that

are plaguing the arts and entertainment industry and other industries across the nation.

In this environment, we believe it is vital to reaffirm our stance on harassment: there is

simply no tolerance for harassment, assault or abuse, sexual or other, at Olney Theatre

Center. No woman, man, transgender, bigender, agender, genderless, pangender, or

other such identity will be abused, victimized or marginalized at Olney Theatre Center.


No one should be forced to choose between her/his/their personal safety and dignity,

and her/his/their job. Sexual discrimination and harassment and gender-based violence

all too often occur in the intimate and physical context of a theater production or theater

environment. At Olney Theatre Center, we will not tolerate such behavior.


We know that workplace culture is determined from the top; therefore, our Board of

Directors, Executive Team and Senior Staff pledge to model behavior that promotes

positive, supportive, safe and comfortable conditions where everyone is given equal and

fair opportunities for learning, advancement and professional growth. We will not only

work to prevent harassment on our campus; we also commit to being part of the

solution field-wide to eliminate harassment, discrimination and abuse in our industry.



Sensory-Friendly Performances

Sensory-Friendly OverviewPerformances Dates


Please contact our Box Office at 301.924.3400 to reserve tickets.


Sensory-Friendly Overview

These sensory-friendly performances have been scheduled for children and adults on the autism spectrum or other sensitivity issues. The list below highlights some of the adjustments made for these performances.

  • Reduction of sound levels, particularly loud or startling sounds
  • Reduction of overwhelming stage lighting
  • Low lighting in the theater throughout the performance so patrons are able to see should they need to move around or exit the theater
  • Patrons can talk and move around the theater as much as they wish during the performance
  • The use of mobile electronic devices are allowed during the performance if they are being use as a communication device
  • Designated break spaces will be available for those who might feel overwhelmed and need a break from the performance
  • Tickets for these performances are $25 per person and are refundable up until the show begins


Performances Dates


Sunday, December 17 at 7:00pm

Special Events
A Night at the Movies: The Witch

Saturday, April 28 at 8:15pm
Historic Theatre

A puritan family struggling to survive the wilderness witness their crops failing and their children missing. They are convinced the Devil is at work. Or is it young Thomasin, who must prove her innocence and faith while simultaneously battling the supernatural and psychological forces threatening to tear her family apart. The Witch wowed audiences at Sundance and The New York Times called it "a finely calibrated shiver of a movie." Enjoy one of the best new horror films in our 80-year-old Historic Theatre with giveaways, popcorn, and a brief discussion afterwards with horror and historical experts. Concessions available for purchase. The Witch is rated R.




Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs

Saturday, June 2

Celebrate Olney Theatre Center's 80th Anniversary Gala on June 2 with special guest Alan Cumming. The star of Broadway, film, and television will perform his renowned revue Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs just for our guests. Given his popularity, this year's Gala is sure to sell out quickly!

More information

A Viewer's Guide to In The Heights

If you're unfamiliar with In The Heights and Lin-Manuel Miranda's work, we've created this Viewer's Guide to In The Heights. Click the links below to find the answers to the questions. If you'd like to know more, please let us know by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Additional Resources:


What makes In The Heights such a revolutionary musical?

In the Heights made history on Broadway as a blockbuster musical created by and about a first generation immigrant community. As Marcos Santana, our director and choreographer, told us at first rehearsal, Latinos on Broadway had been relegated to stereotypical roles until In the Heights arrived in 2007. Here, finally, was a popular Broadway musical with Latinx performers playing fully-fleshed out characters, telling great American stories. Their great American stories follow a traditional musical theater plot – two young couples fall in love, break apart, and find each other again; elders learn to let young people grow up in their own ways; and a community breaks apart before coming together.

Audiences across the country embraced In the Heights after it won the Tony in 2009; in today’s sociopolitical climate, audiences are hungering for it. It’s not only that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s next show, Hamilton, created a generation of theatergoers expecting to see their country’s stories reflected in revolutionary ways. It’s that In the Heights embraces its audience in a warmth and humanity to which every one of us can relate… told by a cast of nonwhite, immigrant characters. That lends In the Heights a moral urgency today that its creators couldn’t have foreseen at the first workshop of the show in 2005:  before Obama, before DACA, before The Wall… the Great American Musical has been forever changed, and we are a richer nation – and richer community – for it.

If you’d like to learn more about how immigrant artists in the diaspora tell their stories in different disciplines, please join us for Home is Where the Art Is, a panel discussion free to members of Olney Theatre Center and Round House Theatre, on Saturday, September 9, from 5:00 – 6:00p.m. on the Mainstage at Olney Theatre Center. Singer and immigration lawyer Loide Jorge, playwright Karen Zacarías, visual artist Muriel Hasbun, and Sojin Kim, curator of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, will talk about what unites multiple artistic disciplines in the telling of immigrant stories, and why the search for home is so universal.

Gabrielle Hoyt, the Literary Manager at Round House Theatre, wrote this beautiful dramaturgy note which you’ll also see in your program:

In the Heights starts at “the break of day,” in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, but even at this early hour, people are heading to work. There’s the Puerto Rican taxi dispatcher, the hair stylist who remembers “the hills of Vega Alta,” and the Dominican bodega guy. All are immigrants. All own small-businesses. And all, as Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes’ musical begins, are fighting to stay afloat in a rapidly gentrifying New York City.

The struggle for economic prosperity while maintaining cultural heritage is a deeply American one. Since our country’s founding, immigrants have brought pieces of their old worlds with them to these shores, and used those fragments to build a new one. But for Abuela Claudia, who belts out her Cuban mother’s motto of “Paciencia y fe” ("Patience and faith”) or Kevin Rosario, who seeks to support his daughter in a way his own Puerto Rican farmer father never could, this dream is in jeopardy. Having come with nothing to this country, having labored to build a new American home, they may end up with nothing once more. Meanwhile their descendants, like high-achieving Stanford freshman Nina or hardworking Usnavi, find themselves struggling in the land of opportunity, striving to achieve their parents’ goals, yet facing obstacles at every turn.

Our characters stand to lose everything, not just economically, but culturally as well. In shutting down a bodega, a taxi service, or a salon, the forces of big business and gentrification aren’t just closing some “raggedy little business,” to quote Usnavi. They are seeking to homogenize and erase, creating a world of sameness and conformity. Having believed in the American Dream, like so many before them, they have nowhere to turn as they begin questioning that dream’s existence. As Usnavi’s young, idealistic cousin raps:

The rent is escalatin’

The rich are penetratin’

We’re paying corporations when we should be demonstratin’

In the Heights doesn’t suggest a solution to this problem. It does, however, present a passionate defense of the “barrio,” depicting the cultural riches, economic ambitions, and American spirit of this majority-Latinx neighborhood. Is Usnavi, seeking to pass on his parents’ legacy to the next generation, all that different from George Bailey of It’s a Wonderful Life? Lin-Manuel Miranda doesn’t think so, slyly including “‘Merry Christmas you ole’ Building and Loan,’ I’m home!” as Usnavi jubilantly proclaims his allegiance to his neighborhood.

In giving voice to the woman who cuts hair in a small salon, the voice on the taxi dispatch radio, and the cashier behind the bodega counter, In the Heights reveals their strength and courage. All have their own stories, and as Usnavi reminds us, “some have happy endings, some are bittersweet.” And all are American.


What's the plot of In The Heights?

Spoiler alert!  A full synopsis of IN THE HEIGHTS follows, which reveals a number of surprises.  Read at your own risk!

Lights up on Washington Heights, New York City. It’s summertime, in the early 2000s, and it’s hot. A spray paint artist, GRAFFITI PETE, is “tagging” a bodega owned by USNAVI, who comes out and shoos him away. Usnavi goes inside to discover that his fridge is broken so he can’t make café con leche, but ABUELA CLAUDIA, who “practically raised [him],” has a solution: one can of condensed milk. The rest of the community wakes up, buying their coffees, starting their day, and heading to work. KEVIN ROSARIO, who owns a taxi dispatch service, and his wife CAMILA announce that their daughter NINA has returned from her first year at Stanford University. BENNY, who works for Kevin, strives for upward mobility and ultimately his own company. SONNY, Usnavi’s cousin, comes in to work at the bodega, late as usual, just before Usnavi’s crush, VANESSA, comes in on the phone with her new landlord; she’s finally moving out of Washington Heights. Others pass through or pass by, including the PIRAGUA GUY and DANIELA and CARLA, the gossips from the salon that has recently been sold and will soon be moving to the Bronx.

The final community member to wake is Nina, who greets Usnavi and Abuela Claudia outside. Abuela Claudia invites her in for a sandwich, but Nina remains behind for a moment, revealing in musical soliloquy that she’s dropped out of college. Meanwhile her parents, realizing their finances are worse than they realized, go to talk to their bank to get an emergency loan, leaving Benny in charge of the dispatch. He is rapping the directions to the taxi drivers when Nina enters, looking for her parents. After a tender moment between them, he convinces her to beat the heat and wait for her parents there, with him.

Outside, Usnavi talks to Abuela Claudia, who has missed another doctor’s appointment. Sonny enters and tells him the fridge is fixed. Also outside, Vanessa reflects on her life in Washington Heights and on her aspirations to “[fly] away” from it all. Before she can fly away, though, Sonny asks her out for Usnavi and she agrees. At the car service, Nina comes to the aid of Benny, who is struggling with his Spanish. Her parents return and, sensing tension, send Benny away. With him gone, she finally tells them she dropped out. They argue and ask why she didn’t ask for money, but she knows they couldn’t afford it, which leaves Kevin feeling useless.

Nina goes to the salon where Vanessa works to talk to her about it, but gets caught up in gossip by Daniela and Carla. Daniela teases her about her flirtationship with Benny and Vanessa about hers with Usnavi. The teasing and gossiping escalates until Nina tells them that she dropped out of college and leaves. At the bodega, Usnavi realizes that he sold a winning lottery ticket, meaning someone in the barrio just won $96,000. The community members react and discuss what they would do with that kind of money. Abuela, however, sings of her time as a girl in La Vibora, Havana, Cuba. Despite her failing memory, she recalls her journey to the United States and her time as a young woman there, before revealing to the audience that she bought the winning ticket.

Nina too is reflecting on her past, as Benny joins her outside. She asks him to “remind [her] of what it was like,” so he takes her on a tour of the highlights of their neighborhood from their childhood. The Piragua Guy sells his shaved ice, embracing the heat, as the Rosarios host a dinner party in honor of Nina’s return. The party goes on for a bit before Kevin announces that he sold the cab business to pay for Nina’s tuition, escalating into the entire party fighting. Benny and Usnavi realize this makes their financial situation even worse, and they leave angrily with Vanessa and Abuela. Nina, too, storms out, insisting she won’t take any of the money.

To blow off steam, Usnavi and Vanessa go out to the club, joined by Benny, who is getting progressively more intoxicated. Vanessa dances with a stranger, much to the dismay of Usnavi. Nina and Benny fight. Then the lights black out. People are lost and looking for one another while Sonny and Graffiti Pete try to protect Usnavi’s bodega from being broken into. Just as the chaos reaches a head, the fireworks start and the first act ends.

The next morning. The power is still out, but there’s heat between Benny and Nina, who have just woken from a night together. They decide to tackle whatever is about to come together, as everyone else comes into the street to see the bodega was ransacked in the chaos, the cash register stolen, and the awning ripped. Also wrecked is Vanessa’s relationship with Usnavi, who didn’t check on her once when the power was out. Usnavi, defeated, gives Graffiti Pete full permission to tag the store and goes to check on Abuela, who tells him she’s giving him a third of the money and giving the last third to Sonny.

Kevin and Camila have been looking for Nina, who enters with Benny. Kevin confronts Benny, saying that Benny isn’t good enough for her. Benny storms away and Nina and Kevin fight, but Camila interrupts, telling them she’s had enough of their arguing. She leaves and Nina goes into Abuela Claudia’s apartment. Daniela finally gets through to the power company and, because it’s going to be at least another day, organizes a carnavalfor the block. During the celebration, Usnavi reveals that Abuela won the lottery, Vanessa realizes that Usnavi likes her, and Usnavi tells Sonny he’s getting a third of the money. Sonny goes into Abuela’s house to celebrate, only for Nina to run out, grab Usnavi, and bring him back inside.

Kevin reveals that Abuela Claudia passed away at noon. The entire community mourns her loss. Usnavi offers Nina money for her tuition, but she turns it down, instead asking for photos. She then looks through Abuela’s box of memories and thinks about how much Abuela taught her. She and Kevin make up and she decides to return to school.

Daniela and Carla finish packing up the salon and then Daniela tells Vanessa she’s cosigning Vanessa’s new apartment lease, because Usnavi told her to. Daniela locks the door for the last time. Usnavi is packing too, having given up on the bodega, which is causing tension between him and Sonny. Vanessa brings him a bottle of champagne, celebrating their respective flights from Washington Heights, now that Usnavi can afford a flight back to the Dominican Republic.

Benny returns his uniform and his keys to Kevin, effectively quitting the closing business to start his own. Sonny and Graffiti Pete meet in the darkness to discuss a “business proposition,” which Usnavi soon finds out is a painting of Abuela Claudia on the grate of the bodega. He decides to stay, upon seeing it and realizing Washington Heights is his (and everyone else’s) home.


What do I need to know about the rap and hip hop components of the show?

Lin-Manuel Miranda, in this interview freely available on YouTube, talks about how and why he fused musical theater and hip-hop styles with In the Heights.  For him, ensuring that both musical theater enthusiasts and musical theater skeptics would have reason to celebrate the show was essential.  His assured, craft-driven and talented use of hip-hop and rap has won the allegiance of both groups.

For a Broadway musical set in an ethnically-diverse, working-class neighborhood, the presence of hip-hop and rap is as important as the story the music tells.  Hip-hop originated in the 1970s, created by inner city African-Americans, combining complex spoken-word rap with stylized rhythmic music and beats.   As the style diversified and gained mainstream acceptance before and into the new century, so too did its ability to empower its creators – artistically, politically, and culturally.  Because of its overwhelming socio-cultural impact, hip-hop is referred to now as a culture, more than just a musical form.  The thrill of its rapid-fire lyrics, the purposeful use of inexact and surprising rhymes, and the visceral allure of its propulsive rhythms have cemented its popularity, whether at the top of the pop charts or in a musical like Hamilton. 

Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote these lyrics for an audience that would include those unfamiliar with rap and hip-hop, so if you miss anything within those rhythms, you won’t be lost in terms of plot – in the same way Gilbert & Sullivan didn’t expect their audiences to catch every word of “Modern Major General”.   As Miranda explains in this interview with Rolling Stone Magazine:

“When people say [Hamilton]’s a hip-hop musical to me, it doesn’t bother me, because I know how much hip-hop contains.  I feel lucky to have grown up in that.  And also, while I was memorizing Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde [a 1992 hip-hop album], I was also playing the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance in ninth grade.  Those two things were happening at the same time for me.  So it’s all a stew in my head.  I’m always attracted to storytelling, whether it’s Biggie’s “Warning” or Jay Z’s “Friend or Foe” or [Gilbert and Sullivan’s] “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General.”  It’s all the same thing.

If you do want to catch every word, the CD and libretto are available for purchase here.  Or you can visit a lyrics site on the web to get the lyrics to a particular song.  From OTC Artistic Director Jason Loewith:

I was advised before seeing Hamilton to listen to the album beforehand so I wouldn’t miss a word.  I ignored that advice because I wanted to experience the musical as it was intended – fresh on first hearing.  I don’t listen to rap or hip hop regularly. I just gave myself permission to understand what I would, and let the experience wash over me.  So I felt the power of the musical in my own way.  And that worked for me.


Tell me more about the musical styles Lin-Manuel Miranda used composing In The Heights?

While longtime music-theater fans will hear echoes of Golden Age composers throughout In the Heights, they’re far more likely to feel the influence of the rock musical, delivered with a distinctive Latin beat. The opening of the show is less Rodgers & Hammerstein than salsa-infused hip-hop; the soaring first act “I Want” song (like “Corner of the Sky” from Pippin) is set to a merengue beat (“It Won’t Be Long Now”); and traditional, rapid-fire patter songs (like “Ya Got Trouble” from The Music Man) here get presented as a fusion of reggaeton and rap. Lin-Manuel Miranda describes the music of In the Heights as the sound of the city he grew up in: “We’ve got the hip hop section, but we also have imagined the car blasting the salsa song whizzing by, and it’s that fusing of all the music...” Read below to learn more about just a few of his musical styles.








Fun Fact!

The inspiration for “Sunrise,” the song that opens the second act, is a children’s song commonly taught to teach Spanish-speaking children, notably kindergartners, some simple English. According to director Marcos Santana:

It is based on a children's song written in 1930 by a Puerto Rican teacher. Her name was Pepita Ramirez. She used to teach some basic English words to her students and, to help with it, she used pictures and items to associate the words visually. For example, [for] a ruler, she would show a "regla" from her desk, [for] chicken she would show a picture of a "pollito". It had such great impact on her students that one of the kids brought a chicken to school the next day and showed it to her saying "Mira aqui está un pollito ’chicken.’” That day she got inspired to write the song.

The song is commonly referred to as “Pollito Chicken” and can be found on YouTube or Olney Theatre Center’s dramaturgy blog.


Do I need to know Spanish to enjoy In The Heights?

Not at all! While the book and lyrics are liberally accented with Spanish, anything you need to know to follow the story is made exceptionally clear. As an example, before Abuela Claudia sings her big solo, Paciencia y Fe, Usnavi helpfully translates it:

Usnavi: ...Like you always say, patience and faith!

Even though you don't need to know Spanish to enjoy In The Heights, we've prepared a glossary of some terms you'll hear throughout the play below.

abuela grandmother         No pare
Don't stop
alabanza praise         No me diga! No kidding!
alza la bandera raise the flag         P.R. Puerto Rico
Ay dios mio! Oh my God!         paciencia y fe patience and faith
barrio neighborhood         piragua shaved ice flavored with fruit juices
bendición blessings         Por favor Please
bodega convenience store         Que pasó? What happened?
calor heat         Qué sé yo? What do I know?
Como estas? How are you?         respira breathe
D.R. Dominican Republic         Sigue sigue Keep Going
dime tell me         Te quiero I want you
mi alma my soul         Tu lo sabes! You know it!
mi tierra my homeland         Wepa! Yeah!/Go!
mira look