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Theatre Talk: In Our Own Little Corner

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The Ahmanson announced their 19-20 season:

9/5-10/20 John Leguizamo's Latin History for Morons

10/23-11/2 Mike Birbiglia's The New One

12/3-1/5 Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

1/14-2/16 Sting's The Last Ship

2/18-3/29 Book of Mormon

4/7-5/10 Once on This Island

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo

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@ElectricBoogaloo Weird. You can always watch Leguizamo on Netflix. I can't remember if I posted here but I think The New One is a good time but totally skippable. There's better stand up out there and the weak material is carried by Birbiglia's delivery. Of course I realize sometimes you just want a fun night out.

The Last Ship feels very irrelevant. Is Once Upon This Island part of a tour? 

Oh, also I made all my choices for my 2019-20 opera season. I may or may not check in next year. It kind of depends how I'm feeling after a long night out. Sometimes I'm energized and feel like posting and sometimes I'm totally satisfied with the experience or just too exhausted. 

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14 minutes ago, aradia22 said:

@ElectricBoogaloo Weird. You can always watch Leguizamo on Netflix. I can't remember if I posted here but I think The New One is a good time but totally skippable. There's better stand up out there and the weak material is carried by Birbiglia's delivery. Of course I realize sometimes you just want a fun night out.

Is Once Upon This Island part of a tour?

Yeah, I didn't get these two either. Not only is Latin History for Morons on Netflix, but it's been touring for over two years now. I saw it at Berkeley Rep back in 2016 before it went to Broadway (and I know it was at the La Jolla Playhouse before Berkeley). I guess since it was nominated for a Tony, they're hoping they can still make some money touring the show?

And Birbiglia has been touring The New One since 2017 (I skipped it when it was at Berkeley Rep because it looked okay but not must see) so you'd think everyone who wanted to see it would have already seen it by now. I checked online and the Broadway version closed in January so I guess, like Latin History, they're going to try to sell tickets for one more tour by billing it as a Broadway show.

The Ahmanson mostly has national tours, so I'm guessing Once on This Island is going to do a national tour. The Ahmanson announcement says, "you won't want to miss the 2018 Tony Award winning revival of Once on This Island."

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I may or may not check in next year. It kind of depends how I'm feeling after a long night out. Sometimes I'm energized and feel like posting and sometimes I'm totally satisfied with the experience or just too exhausted. 

I'm pretty bad about posting here after I see shows. Usually I forget until someone else mentions something tangentially related and then I'm like OH YEAH, I SAW THAT SHOW LAST MONTH!

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo

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Once on this Island starts touring in the fall. My theater's new season won't be announced until maybe next month but I'm crossing my fingers!

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Musical adaptation of The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees

BOOK BY LYNN NOTTAGE
MUSIC BY DUNCAN SHEIK
LYRICS BY SUSAN BIRKENHEAD
BASED ON THE NOVEL BY SUE MONK KIDD
DIRECTED BY SAM GOLD

LINDA GROSS THEATER

MAY 12 – JULY 7, 2019

A world premiere musical written by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage (Sweat), with music by Tony and Grammy Award winner Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening), lyrics by two-time Tony nominee and Drama Desk winner Susan Birkenhead (Jelly’s Last Jam), and directed by Tony winner Sam Gold (Fun Home); based on the best-selling novel by Sue Monk Kidd.

Casting info:

Tony Award winner LaChanze, currently on Broadway in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, Tony nominee Saycon Sengbloh, and more will take the stage in the world premiere of The Secret Life of Bees, a musical adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s novel.

Sengbloh (Eclipsed, Hair) will star as Rosaleen, a Black caretaker who embarks on a pursuit with the young Lily, played by Elizabeth Teeter (The Audience, The Crucible), to uncover the mystery of Lily’s mother’s death against the backdrop of 1960s South Carolina.

LaChanze (a Tony winner for The Color Purple) will play beekeeper August Boatwright, with Eisa Davis (Kings) as June, Tony nominee Manoel Felciano (Sweeney Todd) as T-Ray, Brett Gray (On My Block) as Zach, and Anastacia McCleskey (Waitress) as May.

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@ElectricBoogaloo I don't remember if I knew the casting the last time I posted about it. I'm planning to see it anyway because any excuse to see LaChanze and Saycon. I still have reservations about Duncan Sheik but hopefully everything else around him will make him less bad.

Edited by aradia22

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This

BOOK BY LYNN NOTTAGE

makes me hopeful it'll be good, but this

MUSIC BY DUNCAN SHEIK

makes me suspect it will not.

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I think I posted on here when I saw the CSC Mother Courage with music by Duncan Sheik. If he knows how to write music for anyone but the whitest of characters (Spring Awakening, American Psycho) I have seen no evidence of it. Also, regardless of whether he writes the lyrics or someone else does they are almost always a meaningless mush of faux-poetic nonsense so I'm putting that on him. 

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This past weekend, I saw the Portland Center Stage production of "Tiny Beautiful Things."  I will admit I went out of curiosity--I like Cheryl Strayed and Nia Vardalos--but I didn't know how they could turn a series of advice columns into a play.  In the end, this became one of the most transformational plays I've ever seen.  I'm not sure how widely this show is performed (I've only heard about productions in NYC and PDX), but it is amazing and one I would highly recommend.

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3 hours ago, HazelEyes4325 said:

This past weekend, I saw the Portland Center Stage production of "Tiny Beautiful Things."  I will admit I went out of curiosity--I like Cheryl Strayed and Nia Vardalos--but I didn't know how they could turn a series of advice columns into a play.  In the end, this became one of the most transformational plays I've ever seen.  I'm not sure how widely this show is performed (I've only heard about productions in NYC and PDX), but it is amazing and one I would highly recommend.

It's playing at the Old Globe in San Diego right now till March 17th.  Nia Vardalos has been active with this production.  I had been thinking of seeing this and thanks to your post I'll be making a trip to see it.

https://www.theoldglobe.org/

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2 minutes ago, dbklmt said:

It's playing at the Old Globe in San Diego right now till March 17th.  Nia Vardalos has been active with this production.  I had been thinking of seeing this and thanks to your post I'll be making a trip to see it.

https://www.theoldglobe.org/

I hope you enjoy it!  I was almost finished listening to the audiobook when I saw the play, so the book was very fresh in my mind and I think they compliment each other quite well.

https://www.pcs.org/tiny

(Oh, I read my earlier post and it sounds like Nia Vardalos was *in* this production...she wasn't.  I was referring to her playwriting.  You probably knew that, but I just wanted to be clear...)

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Britney Spears musical "Once Upon a One More Time" sets pre-Broadway run in Chicago

Quote

A new Broadway-bound musical comedy based on classic fairy-tale stories and set to the smash-hit music of Grammy-winning superstar Britney Spears will have its world premiere this fall at the James M. Nederlander Theatre in Chicago. Titled Once Upon a One More Time, the musical will begin previews on October 29 with an opening night of November 13 for a limited engagement through December 1, before heading to Broadway.

"I'm so excited to have a musical with my songs—especially one that takes place in such a magical world filled with characters that I grew up on, who I love and adore," said Spears. "This is a dream come true for me!"

In Once Upon a One More Time, Cinderella, Snow White and the other fairytale princesses gather for their book club when a rogue fairy godmother drops The Feminine Mystique into their corseted laps, spurring a royal revelation.

The musical features an original book by Jon Hartmere (The Upside, Bare) with direction by Tony nominee Kristin Hanggi (Rock of Ages) and choreography by Keone and Mari Madrid (Justin Bieber's "Love Yourself"; "World of Dance").

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@ElectricBoogaloo Head Over Heels: The Sequel? This is different from that Max Martin musical, right? I like Britney and I can see how you can fit some of her songs into a narrative (Lucky, Hit Me Baby (One More Time), Toxic, Womanizer, etc.) but there are still limitations and I don't know if there are rights issues. 

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59 minutes ago, aradia22 said:

This is different from that Max Martin musical, right?

Yes, it’s different. The Max Martin musical is supposed to open in the UK this fall before moving to the West End and will use songs from his entire catalogue (not just the songs he did for Britney).

The show is called & Juliet and is about what might have happened if Juliet hadn’t died with Romeo (she goes to Paris with Nurse and her BFFs). Miriam-Teak Lee has been cast as Juliet. Other cast members

Cassidy Janson (Leading Ladies, Chess, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical); Oliver Tompsett (Kinky Boots, Wicked); Arun Blair-Mangat (Leave to Remain, Angels in America); Melanie La Barrie (Wicked, Matilda);Jordan Luke Gage (who starred in the lead role of Strat in Bat Out of Hell), and Tim Mahendran (Spring Awakening)

More info is available at the show’s official website. The press releases have named a handful of songs that they’re planning to use including Baby One More Time (you can listen to Miriam-Teak Lee singing it on the website), so I don’t know if Once Upon a One More Time will be allowed to use the same songs that are in Juliet. If I were Max Martin, I wouldn’t care about both shows using some of the same songs because money is money, man!

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo

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Did everyone hear Hugh Jackman is doing the Broadway revival of The Music Man in 2020? I may have to go back to NYC just for that!

I'm seeing Miss Saigon on Sunday. It will be something to finally see it after all this time.

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2 hours ago, Silver Raven said:

What happened to the Norm Lewis The Music Man?

The Norm Lewis one was a one week production at the Kennedy Center last month.

The Hugh Jackman one is a Broadway revival which is scheduled to open next year (right now they're saying previews in September 2020 with an official opening in October). Jerry Zaks is directing and Warren Carlyle is choreographing (the same team behind the Hello, Dolly! revival).

Hugh said it was the first musical he ever performed in!

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The first musical I was ever part of was the phenomenal The Music Man. The year was 1983, and I was at Knox Grammar School in Sydney, Australia. I was one of the traveling salesmen, and I think I can actually (almost) remember that unforgettable opening number! That was probably the moment when the magic of theater was born in me.

The idea of bringing The Music Man back to Broadway has been lurking in the back of my brain for a long time, maybe even for 35 years. When Scott Rudin called me with that very idea, I was floored. To finally be doing this is a huge thrill.

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RE: Hugh Jackman Music Man

This both makes the most sense and seems like undeniable casting... while being incredibly boring to me. Open to feeling differently. Bette Midler in Hello Dolly was great but I wasn't as thrilled as others were. I did appreciate the strength of the production and casting around her and I think ultimately I preferred the show with Donna Murphy.

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2 hours ago, aradia22 said:

RE: Hugh Jackman Music Man

This both makes the most sense and seems like undeniable casting... while being incredibly boring to me. Open to feeling differently. Bette Midler in Hello Dolly was great but I wasn't as thrilled as others were. I did appreciate the strength of the production and casting around her and I think ultimately I preferred the show with Donna Murphy.

I think the success will depend on the Marian.

Hugh has charisma in spades and he needs a Marian that’ll take some of that spotlight not just absorb it.  They need a Barbara Cook, Rebecca Luker type homerun again.

Bernadette and Victor Garber were fantastic in Dolly.  Bette was great at being Bette but Bernadette was great at being Dolly in my opinion.

I didn’t see Donna but I would have loved to.

Edited by bosawks
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I saw Miss Saigon today, and I was not prepared for how many lyric changes there were. I mean I used to listen to the OBC all the time, so it was startling.

Anyway, it was good though intense. Emily Bautista was wonderful but the real scene stealer was Red Concepcion as the Engineer. He was a riot!

Man it was hard to watch the opening bar sequence without thinking MeToo. I guess that it shouldn't have been shocking to see those soldiers grope and manhandle the women like that. Still, I winced. A nice little touch was Gigi and the other girls at first bullied Kim when she first shows up, but after she gets roughed up by the soldiers in "Movie in My Mind" they rally beside her. It was like some twisted initiation: "okay, now you know what it's like here, you're one of us, so we'll stick together." 

And I couldn't help side-eyeing the hell out of John. We first see him pawing and smacking around around the Vietnamese women, then cut to three or four years later, he's all about helping the Bui-Doi children. I know people can change and it was probably a form of penance for him, but still...

Also, I know hindsight is 20/20, but Chris, why the hell did you leave Kim to go pack instead of just taking her straight to the Embassy?! Saigon was falling and everything was in chaos, did you really think you could squeeze in two trips?! Idiot.

Poor Kim. She deserved so much better. Had Chris and Ellen done the right thing and gotten her out of the country with Tam, she could have gotten therapy and gone to school and salvaged a good life (despite the awkward custody arrangement) BUT NOOOOOOOOOOOO...

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I saw Falsettos today. Probably the saddest play I have ever seen.

And what a stellar cast.  Every one of them had an outstanding voice.

Max von Essen as Marvin.

Nick Adams as Whizzer

Eden Espinosa as Trina. 

There are two boys listed in the playbill as Jason.  I think the one we saw was named Jonah Mussolino.  He was really good.

Nick Blaemire as Mendel

Bryonha Marie Parham as Charlotte

Audrey Cardwell as Cordelia.

Spoiler

It's interesting that presumably Whizzer dies of AIDS, but they never say that word.

"Unlikely Lovers" is a beautiful song, and all of the voices blended perfectly.

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8 hours ago, Spartan Girl said:

I saw Miss Saigon today, and I was not prepared for how many lyric changes there were. I mean I used to listen to the OBC all the time, so it was startling.

Anyway, it was good though intense. Emily Bautista was wonderful but the real scene stealer was Red Concepcion as the Engineer. He was a riot!

Man it was hard to watch the opening bar sequence without thinking MeToo. I guess that it shouldn't have been shocking to see those soldiers grope and manhandle the women like that. Still, I winced. A nice little touch was Gigi and the other girls at first bullied Kim when she first shows up, but after she gets roughed up by the soldiers in "Movie in My Mind" they rally beside her. It was like some twisted initiation: "okay, now you know what it's like here, you're one of us, so we'll stick together." 

And I couldn't help side-eyeing the hell out of John. We first see him pawing and smacking around around the Vietnamese women, then cut to three or four years later, he's all about helping the Bui-Doi children. I know people can change and it was probably a form of penance for him, but still...

Also, I know hindsight is 20/20, but Chris, why the hell did you leave Kim to go pack instead of just taking her straight to the Embassy?! Saigon was falling and everything was in chaos, did you really think you could squeeze in two trips?! Idiot.

Poor Kim. She deserved so much better. Had Chris and Ellen done the right thing and gotten her out of the country with Tam, she could have gotten therapy and gone to school and salvaged a good life (despite the awkward custody arrangement) BUT NOOOOOOOOOOOO...

Same here! I have the original cast recording so all the changed lyrics were jarring.

Chris leaving Kim behind to pack always bothered me because it was either Chris being a complete dumbass (despite John's earlier warning) or just plain old plot device. Either way, it was glaringly stupid. Then again, I'm all about efficiency so I will always choose one trip instead of two when possible.

Another thing that bothered me about Chris is that, whatever you may think of his speedy romance with Kim, their relationship was mutual, not one-sided. When he was at the embassy gates trying to find her, he called her his bride (and she refers to him as her husband), which implies a serious commitment. But he obviously made it sound like their relationship was just a fling when he described it to Ellen. When Ellen described her encounter with Kim, she says, "[Kim] still thinks she's married to you," as Kim is the crazy one for not finding finding a new husband as soon as she popped out a GI's kid. I get that Chris moved on, but it seemed like he was being deliberately obtuse about Kim still being in love with him.

I agree that John's redemption arc was pretty abrupt. In the first act, the only person he is even remotely nice to is Chris, but in the second act he's suddenly this kind, empathetic man who suddenly gives a shit about all these kids. I know we're supposed to believe that he's grown and he feels guilty about Vietnam, but we don't see that. We're just told that it happened and to accept it. I always found it unintentionally funny when John goes to see Kim in Bangkok and he says, "I'm not here as a friend. I have a job to do." Uh, you never acted like her friend (you bought her for your friend to fuck, called her a whore and a liar, and then told Chris that maybe it's best this dream gets smashed), so I don't think that explanation is necessary!

You bring up an interesting point though. I wonder what Kim's life would have been like if she'd gotten some therapy for the massive amount of PTSD she must have had and if she'd had time to come to terms with Chris being married to Ellen. At the very least, if she'd been able to get to the United States and live a life where she wasn't being threatened by her cousin or the Engineer or forced to work in seedy bars to keep a roof over Tam's head, she might have been able to feel safe and secure and eventually find some happiness.

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9 hours ago, ElectricBoogaloo said:

Chris leaving Kim behind to pack always bothered me because it was either Chris being a complete dumbass (despite John's earlier warning) or just plain old plot device. Either way, it was glaringly stupid. Then again, I'm all about efficiency so I will always choose one trip instead of two when possible.

Another thing that bothered me about Chris is that, whatever you may think of his speedy romance with Kim, their relationship was mutual, not one-sided. When he was at the embassy gates trying to find her, he called her his bride (and she refers to him as her husband), which implies a serious commitment. But he obviously made it sound like their relationship was just a fling when he described it to Ellen. When Ellen described her encounter with Kim, she says, "[Kim] still thinks she's married to you," as Kim is the crazy one for not finding finding a new husband as soon as she popped out a GI's kid. I get that Chris moved on, but it seemed like he was being deliberately obtuse about Kim still being in love with him.

I'll take "Chris is a dumbass" for 200, Alex.  Seriously, though, everything we saw about him in the show stacked up to him being an impulsive, oblivious idiot.  And maybe that's why he later reflected that what he felt for Kim three years ago wasn't so much true love as it was compassion mixed with lust.  Hence, why he moved on so quickly.

9 hours ago, ElectricBoogaloo said:

I always found it unintentionally funny when John goes to see Kim in Bangkok and he says, "I'm not here as a friend. I have a job to do." Uh, you never acted like her friend (you bought her for your friend to fuck, called her a whore and a liar, and then told Chris that maybe it's best this dream gets smashed), so I don't think that explanation is necessary!

Yup.  But to give credit where credit is due, he was the only one that called out Chris and Ellen for their stupid decision to just pay to support Kim and Tam in Bangkok and pretend it was for the best interest for the child when it was really just about keeping Kim and Tam away so they can move on with their lives.  "Tam can go to American schools in Bangkok" my ass.

I know critics write Kim's suicide off as unnecessary and melodramatic, but I don't blame her for it.  She was already emotionally damaged, suffering from guilt for killing her cousin (even though it was 100 percent justified), and I think she was ready to join her family a long time ago.  The only thing that kept her going was Tam and reuniting with Chris.  Even if Chris and Ellen had willingly taken Tam to American as she begged, she might have still done it -- what else would she have done, get pimped out by the Engineer for rest of her life?

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@Silver Raven,

Spoiler

since the second act of Falsettos is set in 1981, they wouldn't have had the word "AIDS" yet.  The show was originally written as two separate one-acts, the first of which was initially staged in 1981 at the very start of the crisis; William Finn recalls friends coming to see the show and afterwards discussing this "gay cancer" they'd been hearing about.  He wrote the second act almost 10 years later, after the crisis had of course escalated, but it's still set in those very early days.  As Dr. Charlotte sings, "We see a trend, but the trend has no name."

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22 hours ago, Spartan Girl said:

But to give credit where credit is due, he was the only one that called out Chris and Ellen for their stupid decision to just pay to support Kim and Tam in Bangkok and pretend it was for the best interest for the child when it was really just about keeping Kim and Tam away so they can move on with their lives.  "Tam can go to American schools in Bangkok" my ass.

True - John was the voice of reason, first when he warned Chris that Saigon was about to fall and again when Chris and Ellen thought their brilliant solution would work and John's respone was, "Uh, no, guys. Guys? Hello? ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?"

As for Kim, I agree that Tam was the one thing that kept her going (and the thought of one day being reunited with Chris). She saw her parents die in front of her. She felt betrayed when her cousin switched sides. She was forced to seek work as a prostitute to survive. She fell in love with a guy who then disappeared. Her cousin/fiance, who claimed to love her, had her beaten and threatened to kill her son. She lived through a terrible war. She had to murder someone who she once loved in order to save Tam. In Bangkok, she was still working as a bar girl to keep him fed and clothed and she was still under the Engineeer's thumb. Finding out that Chris was alive but married to someone else was the last straw. I mean, she had a really terrible life. It's not surprising that she was willing to sacrifice herself in order to give Tam a better life, but given her prospects and how much she'd been through in her very short life, she had nothing left. She lost her parents, her cousin, countless friends and family members, the American who she thought was her husband, and her son. How much can a person take before they break?

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On 3/17/2019 at 7:29 PM, Silver Raven said:

I saw Falsettos today. Probably the saddest play I have ever seen.

And what a stellar cast.  Every one of them had an outstanding voice.

Max von Essen as Marvin.

Nick Adams as Whizzer

Eden Espinosa as Trina. 

There are two boys listed in the playbill as Jason.  I think the one we saw was named Jonah Mussolino.  He was really good.

Nick Blaemire as Mendel

Bryonha Marie Parham as Charlotte

Audrey Cardwell as Cordelia.

  Reveal spoiler

It's interesting that presumably Whizzer dies of AIDS, but they never say that word.

"Unlikely Lovers" is a beautiful song, and all of the voices blended perfectly.

I'm seeing Falsettos in three weeks so I'm glad you warned me that it was sad! When I see musicals that I'm familiar with, I know when to have the tissues ready for crying, but when it's my first time seeing a show I usually blithely expect it to be a happy show.

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I saw Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses at Berkeley Rep last night. Four of the ten cast members were from the original 2002 Broadway production (and three of those four were from the 1999 Berkeley Rep production). I loved Greek mythology in elementary school, so I was familiar with most of the stories. The set was simple but beautiful.

One of the articles in the program was about how the various theaters have dealt with the pool and the effects of having all that water/humidity in the theaters, especially in the earlier productions. The practical side of me was thinking about how much work it must be for the wardrobe department to wash and clean all of those costumes after every show.

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