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Stage: theater, music, dance

November 20, 2003

`Camelot' gala

The classic American musical theater team of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe will be represented at Washington's Arena Stage for the first time when director Molly Smith's production of Camelot opens tonight with a gala fund-raiser for the theater.

Smith's production is intended to be darker than usual, from music director George Fulginiti-Shakar's orchestrations to designer Kate Edmunds' set, the elements of which incorporate rocks, roots and vines. The 26-member company is headed by Broadway veterans Steven Skybell as King Arthur, Matt Bogart as Lancelot, and Kate Suber as Guenevere.

Show times at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. S.W., Washington, are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays; 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; with matinees at 2 p.m. Saturdays and most Sundays, and noon selected Tuesdays and Wednesdays, through Jan. 4. Tickets are $42-$60, except tonight's gala, which is $200- $1000. For more information call 202-488-3300.

- J. Wynn Rousuck

O. Henry at the Olney

As its holiday presentation, Olney Theatre Center has mounted The Gifts of the Magi, currently in previews and opening Sunday. The small-scale musical is an adaptation of two seasonal O. Henry short stories - the title story and "The Cop and the Anthem." With a book and lyrics by Mark St. Germain and music and lyrics by Randy Courts, the show debuted at New York's Lamb's Theater in 1984 and was revived there for the next decade.

Olney's production is directed by Bradford Watkins and stars Benjamin Eakeley and Trinity Baker as the "Magi's" struggling young husband and wife determined to show their love through their Christmas gifts. Sal Mistretta plays "The Cop and the Anthem's" Soapy Smith, a homeless man eager to be arrested so he'll have a roof over his head. Anthony Manough portrays the narrator, modeled after the author, whose real name was William Sidney Porter.

Show times at Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Sundays, and 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays; with matinees at 2 p.m. Sundays and most Saturdays, and Dec. 18, 24 and 26, through Dec. 28. Tickets are $15-$35. For more information call 301-924-3400.

- J. Wynn Rousuck

Handel Choir opener

The Handel Choir of Baltimore launches its 70th season on Sunday with an all-British program led by guest conductor Elam Ray Sprenkle.

There will be two pieces by Benjamin Britten - Saint Nicolas and Te Deum. The former, a cantata about the patron saint of children, offers a nice lead-in to the holiday season. The chorus will be joined by four boy sopranos and the Handel Children's Choir in this colorful work, which also calls for audience participation in some old hymn tunes.

Vaughan Williams' Five Mystical Songs, with texts by poet George Herbert, will round out the presentation.

Tenor William Farrah Strum, baritone Steve Rainbolt and members of the Second Presbyterian Church Choir will participate in this concert at 4 p.m. Sunday at Second Presbyterian Church, 4200 St. Paul St. Tickets are $20 to $28. Call 410- 366-6544.

- Tim Smith

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