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28

FRIDAY

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Together, the two O. Henry stories that compose the Olney Theatre Center for the Arts’ The Gifts of the Magi— “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Cop and the Anthem”—merit maybe 10 minutes of reading. To plump up their full-length musical (first produced in 1984), Mark St. Germain and Randy Court loaded the already sugary tales with extra syrup, resulting in an astoundingly sentimental plot and feather-light songs. Regardless, Olney gives Gifts all it’s got: superb lights and sound, bubbly, if spare, music, and wonderfully detailed costumes from Kathleen Geldard. The company offers a fine collection of voices and a lot of heart; D.C. native Anthony Manough is particularly winning as narrator/newsboy Willy Porter. If you find yourself craving holiday cheer so sweet it makes your gums bleed, Gifts is for you. The play starts at 8 p.m. (to Dec. 28; see City List for other dates) at the Olney Theatre Center for the Arts, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney. $15-$35. (301) 924-3400. (Mike DeBonis)