Olney Theatre stages summer outdoor productions on Root Family Stage

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Olney Theatre's outdoor stage (Part 1)

Are you looking for fun outdoor entertainment for the family to enjoy this summer? Olney Theatre in Olney, Maryland, presents the Root Family Stage.

It’s a massive outdoor stage with seating for 250 people.

“It’s been part of the Olney tradition for a long time; we’ve just built a larger stage on top. … We knew we weren’t going to have people indoors for a while, but the art of performance is very strong in our community,” Director of Curated Programs Kevin McAllister told WTOP.

All shows start at 7:30 p.m.

The series kicks off with the National Players’ “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” through July 11.

“It’s a spectacular production filled with spectacular actors telling an almost timeless tale at this point,” McAllister said. “It’s one of the first times that Olney has delved into using a predominantly African-American cast to tell the story of one of our legendary writers, Shakespeare.”

Next, educate yourself with “Just Arts: Heritage, History & The Future” July 16-17.

“People from around the DMV are coming together to create artistic responses to talk about their heritage and identity,” McAllister said. “We’ve got everything from opera singers to break dancers to Indian dancers, Negro spirituals, brass bands, contemporary dance, spoken word.”

After that comes “Dance Around the World” July 21-28.

“Dance companies that represent very specific cultural presentations [will] come together on the same stage,” McAllister said. “There’s a Bollywood organization sharing the stage with a West African dance company sharing the stage with a hip-hop dance company; a Polish dance company will do something with a Chinese dance ensemble that will do something with a Brazilian tap-dancing ensemble.”

You can also enjoy the “Andrew A. Isen Cabaret Series” from July 23-Sept. 3.

“You’ll find D.C. legend and superstar singer Nova Payton doing a great cabaret with Donna Migliaccio, who’s also a D.C. legend [with] a seven-piece band behind them for every performance.”

Parents can bring kids to “Theatre for Young Audiences” from July 23-Aug. 28.

“We’re doing a dance piece with Imagination Stage called ‘Paper Dreams,’ there’s a Disney sing-along … we have an Indian dance and classical singing group, a group for sensory-friendly performances for kids with special needs … and a new artist named Melissa Victor, who created a podcast called ‘Stoop Kid Stories,'” McAllister said.

Jazz heads will enjoy the “Jazz @ Olney” series from July 24-Aug. 28.

“We were lucky to partner with Mark Meadows, who is a spectacular jazz pianist and composer in the area,” McAllister said. “We’ve got Warren Wolf, who does vibraphone, drums and piano. We’ve got Akua Allrich, who’s an amazing jazz singer. You just don’t want to miss these people.”

And fans of poetry jams will get a kick out of “Sip ‘n’ Slam” from Aug. 4-11.

“Sip ‘n’ Slam is an open-mic poetry jam bringing together artists that have been in the DMV area a long time to share their truths through spoken word,” McAllister said. “We have eight artists who are going to be the highlighted presentation, but there’s also an open-mic portion for anyone who wants to get up and share some poetry.”

See the full outdoor summer schedule here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Olney Theatre's outdoor stage (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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