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Most productions at Olney Theatre Center come with a quick "age guidance" that corresponds roughly to the ratings used by the Motion Picture Association of America. Since those ratings are rather broad and imperfect, we created this more in-depth guide to allow patrons advance knowledge of specific content that may or may not be deemed age-appropriate for a child. 

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.

Adult Behavior: The pirates drink and gamble, then sing about how wonderful that lifestyle is.

Sexual Content: 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.

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

 
H.M.S. PINAFORE

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. 

Adult Behavior: Yes.

Violence: Mostly just threatened in a jestful way.

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.

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

 
SOUTH PACIFIC

Synopsis: Set on a remote Pacific island during World War II, South Pacific gave us the unforgettable love story between nurse Nellie Forbush and French expatriate Emile de Becque, a love threatened by war, as well as the dark corners of Nellie’s soul.

Language: Use of "damn," "bastard," "sexy," and various dated conversations about race.

Adult Behavior: Minimal drinking.

Sexual Content: Some showering onstage, implied prostitution and sex.

Violence: Some military warfare offstage.

For which audiences: Ages 10+

If this were a movie: The film of this musical was not rated, but it would likely be rated PG for sexual content.

 
LABOUR OF LOVE

Synopsis: MP David Lyons parachuted into Parliament with Tony Blair’s generation of center-left politicos focused on electability and effectiveness. His local office director, Jean Whittaker, firmly believes in the pro-union, far-left policies that have historically served his constituency deep in the heart of British coal country… a district that in 2018 just might turn conservative for the first time in a century.

Language: Adult language, including "fuck," "shit," "damn," "tits," and more British slang.

Adult Behavior: Some drinking onstage.

Sexual Content: Frank discussion of sex, with some implied sexual acts onstage.

Violence: None.

For which audiences: Ages 16+

If this were a movie: It would be rated R for language.

 

 

ELF THE MUSICAL

Synopsis: This warm-hearted family musical tells the story of Buddy, a human accidentally transported to the North Pole as a baby who grows up believing himself to be an elf, despite his large size and sub-par toy-making. Upon learning the truth from Santa, Buddy journeys to New York to find his father and help the jaded city folk rediscover the wonder and joy of the Christmas season.

Language: Minimal use of "damn," occasional use of "bitchy".

Adult Behavior: Implied drinking.

Sexual Content: Vaguely alluded to.

Violence: Some mild fighting on stage.

For which audiences: All ages.

If this were a movie: The film version of Elf was PG.

 

 

ONCE

Synopsis: Set in contemporary Dublin, a thirty-something street guitarist is about to give up on his musical dreams when he meets a curious woman who wants to know all about him. Captivated by her optimism, the two embark on a remarkable music-making journey that includes a cadre of unlikely companions -- immigrants, oddballs, and lonely hearts. Along the way, can the two of them find love?

Language: Mention of suicide, use of "fuck, "hell," "asshole," "shit," "bastards," etc.

Adult Behavior: Some minor drinking onstage.

Sexual Content: Discussion of sex, characters clad in underwear.

Violence: Threats of violence, none actualized.

For which audiences: Ages 16+

If this were a movie: The film version of Once was R.

 

OIL

Synopsis: In five separate but connected playlets, a single mother named May defies the odds to provide for her daughter by any means necessary. From Cornwall, to Tehran, London, Baghdad, and back, the mother-daughter power struggle evolves and shifts, even as the resources that fuel it (and the rest of the world) begin to dwindle.

Language: Use of "hell," "fuck," "shit" and other slang.

Adult Behavior: Drinking and smoking onstage.

Sexual Content: Frank discussions of sex, some sexual actions onstage.

Violence: Cleaning of a butchered chicken, implied domestic abuse, repeated threats of gun violence.

For which audiences: Ages 16+

If this were a movie: It would be rated R for language and sexual themes.

 

 

KEN LUDWIG'S A COMEDY OF TENORS

Synopsis: When star tenor Tito Merelli refuses to perform (he mistakenly believes himself cuckolded), the American impresario Saunders and his sidekick Max stumble upon Beppo the Bellman, who happens to look exactly like Tito and has a voice to match. Throw in a couple of young lovers caught in flagrante delicto, Tito’s fiery wife, a randy Russian diva, some slamming doors, and the result is an uproarious adult evening of laughter and love.

Language: Use of "goddammit".

Adult Behavior: Discussion of alcohol.

Sexual Content: Partial nudity, implied sexual intercourse offstage, sexual actions onstage.

Violence: Some comical violence, slapstick.

For which audiences: Ages 13+

If this were a movie: It would be rated PG-13 for sexual humor.

 

 

MARY STUART

Synopsis: The two most powerful women of the 16th Century – Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots – are on an explosive collision course in this thrilling drama of sex, power, intrigue, and betrayal. Pressured by the men of her court, who desperately want her to marry and ensure the succession, the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I must decide whether to put her cousin, the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, to the death. As she tries to keep her fragile hold on both the realm and her conscience, a country fights to define itself.

Language: Use of "hell," "damn".

Adult Behavior: None.

Sexual Content: Discussions of adultery and sexual desire.

Violence: Discussion of violence, beheading, imprisonment, sexual violence towards women, suicide.

For which audiences: Ages 13+

If this were a movie: It would be rated PG-13 for violence and adult themes.

 

 

ROALD DAHL'S MATILDA THE MUSICAL

Synopsis: Born to parents who prize their own ignorance and disdain books, learning, and any information they can’t get from television, Matilda somehow manages to emerge...a genius. Maybe even a magical one. However, she and the rest of the school are under the tyrannical rule of a deliciously devious villain, principal Agatha Trunchbull.

Language: Use of "hell".

Adult Behavior: Smoking of cigarettes and cigars onstage.

Sexual Content: Discussion of genitalia.

Violence: Discussion of violence, including violence towards children.

For which audiences: All ages.

If this were a movie: It would be rated PG.

 

 

TIGER STYLE!

Synopsis: Albert Chen is a computer programmer so modest he lets others take credit for his work. His sister Jennifer, a doctor, is so professionally driven she can’t sustain a relationship (even if she could find someone worthy of her work ethic). Despite their Ivy League educations, musical virtuosity and impeccable manners, the siblings mount a delayed adolescent rebellion against their disappointed Tiger Mother (and equally demanding Tiger Father): they embark on an “Asian Freedom Tour” that takes them to the People’s Republic of China, where the tour goes - no spoilers - terribly wrong.

Language: Use of "fuck," "shit," "dick," etc.

Adult Behavior: None.

Sexual Content: Discussions of sex.

Violence: Discussion of violence and torture.

For which audiences: Ages 16+

If this were a movie: It would be rated R for language.

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