Metro Weekly

Olney Outdoors Summer Cabaret Series

From at "Tribute to Carole King" to a "Celebration of Sondheim," Olney's summer cabaret series has something to please everyone.

APO: Nova Payton
Nova Y. Payton performing in 2021 with the American Pops Orchestra – Photo: Courtesy APO

Olney Theatre is offering another slate of outdoor performances this summer after last year’s successful programming lured thousands of people to the center’s impressive and historically rich campus in Maryland.

Naturally, the chief appeal of Olney Outdoors is the strong lineup of shows featuring celebrated regional talent, all of it performed in the great outdoors — all of which also conjures up serious getaway vibes, especially given the center’s neck of the woods, a leafy, tucked-away part of Montgomery County that takes more than a minute to reach by car (and requires significant travel time and coordination to reach by public transportation).

For those who have yet to venture out to Olney, organizers are sweetening the appeal by granting free tickets for you and up to three friends through its continuing First Time Free promotion.

This year’s Olney Outdoors features weekly programming ranging from kids- and family-specific shows on Saturday mornings to live jazz by local artists on Saturday nights.

The lineup also includes special one-off events such as “A Night of Italian Arias” (7/14), a weekend run of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing performed by Olney’s traveling troupe the National Players (7/21-23), the spoken-word showcase Poetry at Sunset (8/11), and a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (9/4).

“Our audiences last summer demonstrated that they love a good theme,” says Kevin McAllister, Olney’s Director of Curated Programs. “Centering the programming around artists and eras that promise a good time sets the vibe we’re going for in all of the Olney Outdoors programs. It’s summer. Time for joy.”

Arguably the highlight of the season are the cabarets scheduled for most Friday nights over the next month. The series includes:

A Tribute to Carole King, featuring Nova Y. Payton and Karen Vincent giving their spins on pop standards “I Feel the Earth Move,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” and “Natural Woman,” among others. (7/15)

A Latin Celebration of songs by Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, Selena, and more, as covered by local performers Mauricio Pita, Jonathan Atkinson, Jyline Carranza, Chris “JChris” Urquiaga, and Elena Lacayo. (8/5)

A Celebration of Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder that isn’t exactly, as the official release puts it, “a competition between the Poet Laureate of Long Island and the original Motown Superstar, but no matter who’s your favorite, everybody wins!” That’s especially true, given that D.C.’s musical theater powerhouse Tracy Lynn Olivera leads the revue alongside Calvin McCullough and Derrick Truby, all accompanied by maestro Christopher Youstra. (8/12)

The series culminates with the sure-fire Celebration of Sondheim led by Signature Theatre co-founder, and seasoned stage powerhouse herself, Donna Migliaccio performing alongside Gregory Maheu, Katie Mariko Murray, and John Leslie Wolfe numbers from classic musicals including West Side Story, Company, Into the Woods, and A Little Night Music. (8/19)

All shows in the open-air Omi Pavillion on the Root Family Stage (moved indoors in case of rain or inclement weather). Olney is at 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, in Olney, Md. Tickets are $35 for the cabarets, or free for qualifying first-timers using code 1stTimeFree. Call 301-924-3400 or visit www.olneytheatre.org.

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