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Olney Theatre Center (Jason Loewith, Artistic Director, Debbie Ellinghaus, Executive Director)in association with TheaterWorksUSA (Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director; Michael Harrington, Executive Director) and Edgewood Entertainment (Dale A. Mott, Producer/Managing Director; Charles D. Urstadt, Producer/Managing Director) presents the World Premiere of Long Way Down in Olney Theatre’s Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab with Book, Music, and Lyrics by poet, performance artist and musician Dahlak Brathwaite (HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, Spiritrials, Try/Step/Trip) and additional writing by Khiyon Hursey (Netflix’s Soundtrack, Love in America, Spirited with Benj Pasek and Justin Paul), adapted from the bestselling novel by Jason Reynolds. The production will be directed by Ken-Matt Martin (Mosaic Theater’s Nancywho also serves as co-choreographer with cast member Victor T. Musoni (Goodman Theatre’s Toni Stone, Steppenwolf’s Columbinus). The production will have three preview performances on May 22, 23, and 24.

The production is scheduled to run through Sunday, June 23. Tickets are $55 – $90 and are available online at olneytheatre.org/longwaydown or at 301-924-3400.

A special conversation with author Jason Reynolds will be held prior to the Opening Night performance on Saturday, May 25 at 5:00 pm in the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab. Tickets for the event are $10/free for Olney Theatre Center Members. The conversation will also be live-streamed on the Olney Theatre YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Published in 2017, Jason Reynolds’ critically acclaimed novel written in verse, received a prestigious John Newbery Honor, along with a Printz Award Honor and the Coretta Scott King Honor.

Tyrese Shawn Avery stars in the musical as the central character Will, IO Browne plays his mother Shari, and Victor Musoni, in addition to serving as co-choreographer, plays Will’s older brother Shawn. After Shawn is murdered by a rival gang, Will gets ready to hit the streets in search of vengeance. However, in his apartment’s elevator, he is confronted by the spirits of people central to his predicament seeking to influence what decision he makes before the elevator reaches the ground floor.  Among them, Will encounters Frick (Colin Carswell), a leader of the rival gang; Buck (Parris Mone’t Lewis) who served as a mentor to Shawn; his first girlfriend Dani (Cheryse Dyllan); his father Mike (Quincy Vicks), and his Uncle Mark (Naiqui Macabroad). Understudies for the production are Ciara Hargrove and Bryan Archibald.


Olney Theatre’s Artistic Director, Jason Loewith, says, “It’s such a privilege to produce this necessary new musical, bringing together a once-in-a-generation literary talent like Jason Reynolds with creatives of the highest caliber. Dahlak, Khiyon, Ken-Matt, and Victor have turned an extraordinary story into a theatrical event like no other. I’m so grateful to them, as well as the folks at TheaterWorksUSA and Edgewood, for asking us to bring their work forward one more step. I can’t wait to be in conversation about it with our communities.”

The artistic team, in addition to Brathwaite, Hursey, Musoni, and Martin includes Cedric Lyles (Music Director), Nick Hernandez (Music Programmer), Simean Carpenter (Scenic and Lighting Designer), Danielle Preston (Costume Designer), Kevin Alexander (Sound Designer), Paul M. Callahan (Assistant Lighting Designer), and Robbie Armstrong III (Production Stage Manager).

Following the run at Olney Theatre Center, Long Way Down will be mounted in the Apollo’s Victoria Theater – a new, recently restored, mission-focused arts venue located next door to and managed by the historic Harlem theatre.

About the Play

Growing up, Will’s big brother taught him three iron-clad rules of how to behave when gun violence claims someone close: Don’t cry. Don’t snitch. Get revenge. So when his brother is himself gunned down, Will is determined to follow the code and gets in an elevator on the top floor of his apartment building, armed and ready to hit the streets in search of vengeance. What happens on the way down is an emotional hip-hop journey through the cycles of violence that have plagued Will’s family and too many others.


Long Way Down

Book, music, and lyrics by Dahlak Brathwaite

Additional writing by Khiyon Hursey

Adapted from the bestselling novel by Jason Reynolds

Music Directed by Cedric Lyles
Co-choreographed by Ken-Matt Martin and Victor Musoni

Directed by Ken-Matt Martin


Previews May 22, 23, and 24 at 7:30 pm

Runs until: Sunday, June 23, 2024 in Olney Theatre Center’s Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab


Tickets $55 – $90. Discounts are available for groups, seniors, teachers, active military, first responders, and students. Visit olneytheatre.org/discounts for details.

Purchase via olneytheatre.org/longwaydown or 301-924-3400


Performance Times

Regular performances are Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 pm;

Matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 pm.

No Saturday matinee on May 25.

On Wednesday, May 29, there will be a matinee performance at 1:30 pm. However, there are no Wednesday evening performances on May 29 or June 5.

There will be additional performances on Sunday evening June 2, 9, and 16 at 7:00 pm.

There will be a special Black Out Performance for the Black community on

For the 2023-2024 Season, Olney Theatre Center will be offering programs for purchase rather than as a complimentary item at performances. Programs are always free for members and K-12 students. For more information visit: olneytheatre.org/programs



Audio described performance on Wednesday, June 12  at 7:30 pm

Sign interpreted performance on Thursday, June 13 at 7:30 pm

About The Author