Skip to main content

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.



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.



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.



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," and "hell".

Adult Behavior: Implied drinking.

Sexual Content: Alluded to as a "special hug" and a misunderstood suggestion to "get her into bed."

Violence: Some mild fighting on stage.

For which audiences: All ages.

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



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


National Players Productions

Around the World in 80 Days

Synopsis: After making a bet at the Reform Club, British gentleman Phileas Fogg breaks the precise routine of his life and sets out to complete a journey around the world in 80 days with his valet, Passepartout. His efforts are complicated by an investigator, Mr. Fix, who pursues Fogg, believing him to be a bank robber.

Language: None.

Adult Behavior: Obscure drug usage in one scene. Multiple references to alcohol consumption.

Sexual Content: None.

Violence: Some mild, slapstick violence done behind screen with shadows.

For which audiences: Ages 10+

If this were a movie: The movie adaptation of Jules Verne’s original book was rated PG. However, the play is significantly more mild than the movie and could be rated G.


The Crucible

Synopsis: This is a dramatic depiction of the Salem witch trials that occurred in the Puritan town of Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. The story follows John Proctor, his wife Elizabeth, and a young girl Abigail Williams. After having a adulterous relationship with Proctor, Abigail wrongfully accuses Elizabeth of witchcraft. Proctor takes Abigail to court to admit her lie, but then finds himself accused of witchcraft.

Language: Use of the words “damn” and “whore.” Frequent mentions of the devil

Adult Behavior: This is a depiction of a highly disturbing historical event, in which a town suffered mass hysteria and twenty people were executed for witchcraft.

Sexual Content: A sexual relationship between John Proctor (a married man) and Abigail Williams (a teenager) happens before the start of the play and is referenced.

Violence: Characters accused of witchcraft are hung (offstage) and one character is crushed by the weight of stones (offstage). They are not described in graphic detail. There is also mention of scratching one’s skin until it bleeds, bruises and abuse, and using needles in a doll to cause pain to other humans.

For which audiences: Ages 13+

If this were a movie: The 1996 movie adaptation is rated PG-13. The play could be rated similarly.


Twelfth Night

Synopsis: Twins Viola and Cesario are separated when their ship wrecks on the coast of Illyria. Comedy ensues involving twisting lines of romance. Viola, who is disguised as a boy, falls in love with Duke Orsino, whom she is serving while she is trying to figure out what to do next. Orsino, in turn, loves Countess Olivia. And Olivia, believing Viola to be a man, falls in love with her.

Language: Mild use of the words “damned,” “hell” and “wench.”

Adult Behavior: Various scenes involving alcohol consumption.

Sexual Content: Some kissing and implications of sexual activity.

Violence: Some slapstick stage combat.

For which audiences: Age 10+

If this were a movie: Would likely be rated PG.

Box Office: 301.924.3400

Open Wednesday - Sunday: 12:00PM - 6:00PM

Mailing list

Keep up to date with our latest events & offers:

Join our mailing list