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Peter Friedman. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The Treasurer, by Max Posner, at Playwrights Horizons, is a provocative, worthwhile study of a middle-aged man with two brothers (offstage except for their voices) who becomes the designated primary guardian of his mother’s affairs. At first, this involves simply, or not so simply, keeping track of her finances. But as she becomes alarmingly reckless with money, it becomes clearer that she is slipping into dementia. The more stringent the restrictions the son has to impose, the more abstracted his mother becomes, the more he realizes that he has lost any profound feeling for her, as if the mourning process happened with the death of her aware, functional personality, such that waiting for her actual demise is something of a sentence for him, wherein her death could only be received as a long-coming reward for services rendered.

As directed by the redoubtable David Cromer, and possibly as indicated by the script (it’s hard to tell just from the production), the proceedings move at a steady, slow, contemplative pace, with a lot of air for silent tension, and sometimes just for tacitly communicating the visceral sensation of time in suspension.
Deanna Dunagan plays the mother with just the right balance of grace, dignity, dottiness and insufferableness to make the familial dynamic both sadly and humorously understandable. And far from being a monster, the son—as portrayed by Peter Friedman in one of his best performances ever—occupies a slot that many people with aging parents will regard as a touchpoint for I’m-not-alone self-recognition; and that those in the audience who are younger may find an unsettling (if theatrically rewarding) look at life’s less shiny coming attractions. All other roles are played ably (with an occasional touch of gender-swapping in cameos) by Pun Bandhu and Marinda Anderson.
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Liza Colôn-Zayas, Carrie Coon

Liza Colôn-Zayas, Carrie Coon. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Also worthwhile, exploring related themes from much the other side of the spectrum, is Mary Jane by Amy Herzog at the New York Theatre Workshop, which is an episodic portrait of the title character: a young, single, working mother (Carrie Coon) with the activity at the center of her life being the care of a chronically sick (always offstage) child—and while never losing her devotion or affection, becoming increasingly overwhelmed by it, as we see in the progress of her interactions with a helpful friend, a hired aide and hospital personnel, among others (played variously by Liza Colón-Zayas, Danaya Esperanza, Susan Pourfar and Brenda Wehle). Under the unobtrusive, naturalistic direction of Anne Kauffman, Mary Jane is a subtle, stage vérité portrait without answers; only empathy. Which is, here, appropriate and sufficient.

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Nia Vardalos

Nia Vardalos Photo by Joan Marcus

Finally, at the Public theater, there’s the return engagement of Tiny Beautiful Things. It’s a play to the extent that there is a subtextual thread upon which is hung the dramatic order of elements. But really, it’s the kind of the evening I think of as a themed, spoken word revue. (Another would be Spoon River Anthology.)

Adapted for the stage by its current star, Nia Vardalos, it’s based on the book of the same title by Cheryl Strayed, which is drawn from an online advice column Strayed wrote anonymously behind the title Dear Sugar, in which she dealt with her readers’ deepest and most intimate questions, issues and problems with the compassion and insight of a master therapist and the literary grace of a superior wordweaver—endowed with a kind of motherlove for the pained, imperfect people she sees as brave enough to reach out, and deserving of equal honesty in turn.
Tiny Beautiful Things thus presents select exchanges, starting with the editor who solicits Strayed’s participation, then leading directly to the exchanges between her and her readers, who promptly tweak to the fact that this Sugar is an entirely different force than the previous Sugar, and one who delivers answers that are as unprecedentedly revealing about herself as they are wise about the correspondents (all played by Teddy Cañez, Hubert Point-du Jour and Natalie Woodlams-Torres) to whom they are directed.
Given a surprisingly elaborate apartment setting (Rachel Hauck)—strictly speaking, unnecessary for the content, but itself seeming to represent not just the home environment from which Strayed wrote her column, but the symbolism of a universal safe place for her followers—Tiny Beautiful Things is presented, under the direction of Thomas Kail, in the manner of a sensitive tone poem; by turns serious, funny, heartbreaking, often quite touching, and somehow almost always uplifting… exactly, of course, as it ought to be. And the cast is splendidly in tune with each other and the material, Ms. Vardalos being the radiant, healing soul at the center.
I suppose if one were nitpicking, one might cautiously suggest that the play, if we’re to call it a play, is a bit long: having no ostensible story, just a gently developing arc of discovery and revelation, it occasionally and unintentionally repeats emotional work it has already done, with variations that don’t quite cover new ground—which consequently makes the sustaining of dramatic tension a bit more of a test then perhaps it ought to be, here and there. But given the rewards of the evening, that seems an almost negligible caveat.
Especially since, these days, any dramatic work that celebrates what is best about the human condition, and that demonstrates so eloquently that hope is possible even in the darkest times, should be forgiven its likewise human trespasses and simply welcomed with open arms and hearts.

David Spencer is an award-winning composer-lyricist, lyricist-librettist, author and musical theatre teacher. He has written music and lyrics for the Richard Rodgers Development Award-winning musical The Fabulist, which also contributed to his winning a Kleban lyrics award and several Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla Theatre Foundation grants. He is also lyricist-librettist for two musicals with composer Alan Menken: Weird Romance (WPA 1992, York 2004) and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, which had its sold out, extended world premiere in Montreal in Summer 2015; cast album release soon. He made his professional debut in 1984 with the English Adaptation of La Bohéme at the Public Theatre; and he has since written music and lyrics for Theatreworks/USA’s all-new, award-winning Young Audience versions of The Phantom of the Opera (1996) and Les Misérables (1999) (book and direction for both by Rob Barron). Currently he is writing book, music and lyrics for a musical based on the iconic Russian novel The Golden Calf. Spencer’s published books are the Alien Nation novel Passing Fancy (Pocket, 1994), The Musical Theatre Writer’s Survival Guide (Heinemann, 2005, a regularly reprinted industry standard) and the script of Weird Romance (Samuel French, 1993). He is on faculty and teaches at the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and has taught at HB Studio, the Workshop Studio Theater and Goldsmith’s College in London. His primary professional affiliations are BMI, The Dramatists Guild and The International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.

Broadway

Summer Listening: Here We Are, Water for Elephants, Days of Wine and Roses, Harmony, How to Dance in Ohio, The Great Gatsby, Lempicka, The Outsiders, Stereophonic and Suffs  

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Today Concord Theatricals Recordings released the original cast recording of Here We Are, on CD and digital platforms worldwide. The album will be available on 2-LP, 180g baby blue vinyl on Friday, September 6. Here We Are (Original Cast Recording) has music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, and music supervision and additional arrangements by Alexander Gemignani, conducting a 14-piece orchestra. The album was recorded and mixed by Ian Kagey and mastered by Oscar Zambrano. The album packaging was designed by Derek Bishop. Complete production credits can be found in the album booklet available for free download HERE.

Stream, download or purchase the album HERE.

The album features the cast of Joe Mantello’s celebrated world premiere production: Francois Battiste, Tracie Bennett, Bobby Cannaval

Ghostlight Records has announced that Water for Elephants: Original Broadway Cast Recording, which preserves the show’s soaring score by the acclaimed PigPen Theatre Co., is available in streaming and digital formats today, Friday, May 17. A CD is being planned for this summer. The show has been nominated for seven 2024 Tony Awards, including “Best Musical.” Produced by Peter Schneider, Jennifer Costello, Grove Entertainment, Frank Marshall, Isaac Robert Hurwitz, and Seth A. Goldstein, Water for Elephants is currently running at the Imperial Theatre (249 West 45th Street). Water for Elephants is based on the critically acclaimed and New York Times-bestselling novel by Sara Gruen. The new musical has a book by four-time Tony Award nominee Rick Elice (Jersey Boys, Peter and the Starcatcher) and is directed by two-time Tony Award nominee Jessica Stone (Kimberly Akimbo). The album is produced by Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Ian Kagey. Stream or download the album at ghostlightrecords.lnk.to/WaterForElephants

Water for Elephants is currently running at the Imperial Theatre (249 West 45th Street). The cast stars Grant Gustin (“The Flash,” “Glee”) in his Broadway debut, Isabelle McCalla (The Prom, Shucked), four-time Tony Award nominee Gregg Edelman (City of Angels), Drama Desk and Outer Critic Circle Award nominee Paul Alexander Nolan (Slave Play), Stan Brown (“Homicide: Life in the Streets”), Joe De Paul (Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion), Sara Gettelfinger (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), and Wade McCollum (Wicked), and features Brandon Block, Antoine Boissereau, Rachael Boyd, Paul Castree, Ken Wulf Clark, Taylor Colleton, Gabriel Olivera de Paula Costa, Isabella Luisa Diaz, Samantha Gershman, Keaton Hentoff-Killian, Nicolas Jelmoni, Caroline Kane, Harley McLeish, Michael Mendez, Samuel Renaud, Marissa Rosen, Alexandra Gaelle Royer, Asa Somers, Charles South, Sean Stack, Matthew Varvar, and Michelle West.

Days of Wine and Roses written by Adam Guettel, features powerful songs like “Forgiveness” and “There Go I”, performed by Kelli O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James. Stream the Tony Award-nominated score here.

Harmony has a score by Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman. The cast recording was released last August. You can still stream the cast recording here.

How to Dance in Ohio released an original Broadway cast recording on January 19, 2024. To stream the album, which features “Building Momentum,” click here.

The Great Gatsby has a new score by Jason Howland and Nathan Tysen, they will release a cast album digitally on June 21, 2024. Ahead of the album’s release, hear a sneak preview of tunes “For Her” and “My Green Light”performed by Jeremy Jordan and Eva Noblezada.

Lempicka has songs that were fabulously sung by Eden Espinosa, Amber Iman, Andrew Samonsky, George Abud, Natalie Joy Johnson and Beth Leavel. The new score from Matt Gould and Carson Kreitzer will be available to stream on May 29, 2024.

The Outsiders new score by Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay & Zach Chance) and Justin Levine will be available to stream on May 22, 2024. The songs were written by Academy Award nominee and Grammy Award winner Will Butler. You can get a sneak preview of the song “Masquerade” here.


Well Suffs is the show that will win the Tony for Best Musical and Score. The book, composer, lyricist, and star is Broadway darling Shaina Taub. The cast recording, produced by Atlantic Records, will be available to stream on June 14, 2024.

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Events

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Jana Robbins and Tim Tuttle

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“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents”, is  filmed live every Wednesday from 5 – 6 now in the conference room at the Hotel Edison.

In this episode T2C’s publisher and owner Suzanna Bowling talks with Jana Robbins and Tim Tuttle. Jana Robbins is starring in A Final Toast, which opens at The Chain Theatre, 312 West 36th Street #3rd Floor, this Friday. Her performance this Thursday, which is an invited dress is dedicated to the memory of her beloved mother Edythe Elaine Eisenberg May 16, 1922 – Oct. 24, 2022.

Tim Tuttle, wrote the book, music and lyrics for 44 Lights: The Musical that opened last night at the AMT Theatre, 354 W 45th StreetTuttle worked as a trader on Wall Street, until September 11th, 2001. He turned to music to heal. 44 Lights is a chance for Tim to tell his story, to remember the many who didn’t come home, and find a way to keep their memories alive forever.

We are so proud because the show and our guests are now featured on the TV screens in the lobby and the hotel rooms.
I am so grateful to my guests Jana Robbins and Tim Tuttle.

Thank-you Magda Katz for videoing and creating the content to go live, Rommel Gopez and The Hotel Edison for their kindness and hospitality.

We are so proud and thrilled that Variety Entertainment News just named us one of Summer’s Best Picks in the category of Best Television, Radio, PodcastsThe company we are in, has made us so humbled, grateful and motivated to continue.

You can catch us on the following platforms:

Pandora:

https://www.pandora.com/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/PC:1001084740

Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/show/1084740

Spotify:

Amazon:

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/e3ac5922-ada8-4868-b531-12d06e0576d3

Apple Podcasts:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/id1731059092

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Off Broadway

TBTB’s I Ought to Be in Pictures Zings Out One Liners Solidly

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When you think of snappy one-liners or biting comebacks, there is one playwright that comes to mind. That is the one and only Neil Simon who has a writing credit of almost 50 plays. Probably his most well-known is The Odd Couple. It was revived recently on Broadway with an all-star cast. Now one of Simon’s plays that has not been seen on or off Broadway since the early eighties is back. I Ought to Be in Pictures, produced by Theater Breaking Through Barriers, is playing at Theater Row on 42nd Street starring Makenzie Morgan Gomez (Off-Broadway Debut) as Libby, Pamela Sabaugh (Off-Broadway’s Richard III) as Steffy and Chris Thorn (Off-Broadway’s Pride and Prejudice) as Herb.

Makenzie Morgan Gomez and Chris Thorn Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

The play begins as aspiring actress Libby shows up at screenwriter Herb’s door and announces that she is his daughter whom he abandoned 16 years ago and she wants him to help her get into “pictures.” Hair/make-up artist Steffy is Herb’s one-night-a-week girlfriend for the past two years.

Makenzie Morgan Gomez, Pamela Sabaugh, and Chris Thorn Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

Thorn seems to embody Herb, the talented and once successful writer, mired in the lonely world of self-doubt who can’t trust his craft, his ideas, or his ability to keep pushing in the competitive “younger” world of the entertainment business. His anger has turned to resignation as his confidence has faded. Thorn can join in the quick and cutting war of words in the Simon script and still carry that heavy weight of failure that’s dragging him down. As Libby, Gomez is like a haboob that has swirled into Herb’s life. Her rapid-fire delivery gives the daughter the edge keeping anyone from reeling her in or rearranging her plan.

Gomez plays Libby a bit young for someone who has crossed the country traveling with a bus ticket and the rest with her thumb (think the 1970s) to get into the “pictures”, an industry she knows nothing about. But Gomez is up to the task.  Her monologues are spot on even though she can get a bit high-pitched in the excitement and her scenes with Herb ring true. Pamela Sabaugh’s Steffy is right on point. You can see her affection for both Libby and Herb and you can feel her desire to see her relationship with Herb grow. Having Libby meet Herb’s “girlfriend on Tuesdays” at the door gives Steffy some added weight in the plot and Sabaugh takes it in and runs with it.

Directed by Nicholas Vitelli (TBTB’s God of Carnage)I Ought to Be in Pictureshas a real feel for its characters and their environment, moving them around the drab living space of the dad’s small West Hollywood apartment in the late 1970s. Scenic and lighting designer Bert Scott (TBTB’s Brecht on Brecht) gives the tired apartment touches that show how Herb sees himself, tumbling on the way down; old appliances, and smudges around cabinet pulls and light switches emphasize the decline.

Theater Breaking Through Barriers (TBTB) production of  I Ought to Be in Pictures is a funny and touching comedy, hitting all the right notes with a cast that fits together seamlessly. What we have here is vintage Neil Simon giving us his classic verbal sparing that has the audience continually holding their breath waiting for the next one to zing in. TBTB is “dedicated to advancing and celebrating the work of professional artists with disabilities.” The performance included an audio description of the set and characters before the performance began and script text during the play.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Broadway

The Outer Critics Circle Winners: Stereophonic and Suffs Take The Lead

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The Outer Critics Circle (OCC), has just announced the winners of the 2024 Outer Critics Circle Awards, honoring the 2023-2024 Broadway and Off-Broadway season.

The awards ceremony for the winners will be held on Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center’s New York Public Library for The Performing Arts (111 Amsterdam Avenue, NYC).

Founded during the 1949-50 Broadway season by respected theater journalist John Gassner, The Outer Critics Circle is an esteemed association with members affiliated with more than ninety newspapers, magazines, broadcast stations, and online news organizations, in America and abroad. Led by its current President David Gordon, the OCC Board of Directors also includes Vice President Richard Ridge, Recording Secretary Joseph Cervelli, Corresponding Secretary Patrick Hoffman, Treasurer David Roberts, Cynthia Allen, Harry Haun, Dan Rubins, Janice Simpson and Doug Strassler. Simon Saltzman is President Emeritus & Board Member (Non-nominating) and Stanley L. Cohen serves as Financial Consultant & Board Member (Non-nominating). Lauren Yarger serves as the Outer Critics Circle Awards ceremony executive producer.

Outstanding New Broadway Play: Stereophonic

Outstanding New Broadway Musical: Suffs

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical: Dead Outlaw

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play: Primary Trust

John Gassner Award for New American Play (preferably by a new playwright): Oh, Mary! 

Outstanding Revival of a Musical: I Can Get It for You Wholesale

Outstanding Revival of a Play: Appropriate

Outstanding Lead Performer in a Broadway Play: Jessica Lange – Mother Play

Outstanding Featured Performer in a Broadway Play: Kara Young – Purlie Victorious

Outstanding Lead Performer in a Broadway Musical: Kelli O’HaraDays of Wine and Roses

Outstanding Featured Performer in a Broadway Musical: Kecia LewisHell’s Kitchen

Outstanding Lead Performer in an Off-Broadway Musical: Andrew Durand Dead Outlaw

Outstanding Featured Performer in an Off-Broadway Musical (tie): Judy Kuhn – I Can Get It For You Wholesale and Thom Sesma – Dead Outlaw

Outstanding Lead Performer in an Off-Broadway Play (tie): Cole Escola – Oh, Mary!  and
William Jackson Harper – Primary Trust

Outstanding Featured Performer in an Off-Broadway Play: Jay O. Sanders – Primary Trust

Outstanding Solo Performance: Patrick Page – All the Devils are Here

Outstanding Book of a Musical: Shaina Taub – Suffs

Outstanding Score Shaina Taub – Suffs

Outstanding Orchestrations Marco Paguia – Buena Vista Social Club

Outstanding Direction of a Musical: Jessica Stone – Water for Elephants

Outstanding Direction of a Play: Daniel Aukin – Stereophonic

Outstanding Choreography (Broadway or Off-Broadway):Justin Peck — IllinoiseOutstanding Scenic Design (tie): David ZinnStereophonic and Paul Tate dePoo III – The Great Gatsby

Outstanding Costume Design: Linda Cho – The Great Gatsby

Outstanding Lighting Design: Brian MacDevitt The Outsiders

Outstanding Sound DesignRyan Rumery – Stereophonic

Outstanding Video/Projections: Peter Nigrini – The Who’s Tommy

Shows with Multiple Award Wins
4: Stereophonic
3: Dead Outlaw, Primary Trust, Suffs
2: The Great Gatsby, I Can Get It For You Wholesale, Oh, Mary!

Broadway Productions Considered in FullGrey House, Once Upon a One More Time, The Cottage, Back to the Future, The Shark Is Broken, Purlie Victorious, Melissa Etheridge: My Window, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, Gutenberg! The Musical!, I Need That, Monty Python’s Spamalot, How to Dance in Ohio, Appropriate, Days of Wine and Roses, Doubt, The Notebook, An Enemy of the People, Water for Elephants, The Who’s Tommy, The Outsiders, Lempicka, The Wiz, Suffs, Stereophonic, Hell’s Kitchen, Cabaret, The Heart of Rock and Roll, Patriots, Uncle Vanya, The Great Gatsby, Mother Play

Only New Elements of the Following Productions Were Considered: Just for Us, Here Lies Love, Merrily We Roll Along, Harmony, Prayer for the French Republic, Mary Jane

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Events

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Jana Robbins and Tim Tuttle

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Our guests this week are Tony and Olivier Award winning Broadway actor and producer Jana Robbins and book, music and lyric writer Tim Tuttle. Join us Wednesday May 8th at 5pm.

Jana Robbins is thrilled to be back on stage with A Final Toast.  As an actor she has appeared in leading roles on Broadway in Good News, I Love My Wife, Crimes of the Heart, Gypsy  – covering Tyne Daly as Mama Rose while playing the “bump it with a trumpet” stripper Mazzeppa – and The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife – where she covered both Linda Lavin and Michele Lee and starred opposite Valerie Harper in the National Tour.  Jana has played leading roles across the country in National Tours, as well as many of our well know theaters and repertory companies, including Seattle Rep, The Alliance Theater, Cinncinati Playhouse in the Park, Papermill Playhouse and many more. On TV she has appeared in Cheers, Babylon 5, The Good Wife, Law And Order, SVU, Nurse Jackie and more.  Her favorite film credit was working with Annette Benning and Meg Ryan in The Women. Jana’s Broadway and West End producing credits include Little Women, Ragtime, Company on Broadway and in the West End, (Tony and Olivier Award) and most recently The Shark Is Broken. Off-Broadway, Ms. Robbins was also the lead producer of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish directed by Joel Grey (Drama Desk Award).  As Pinnacle Productions, with producer Haley Swindal, she recently produced Rose at The Ambassadors Theatre (West End), as well as Death Note – The Musical at London’s Palladium and The Lyric Theater.  Just last month, they produced Your Lie In April at The Royal Drury Lane in the West End which transfers to the Harold Pinter Theater in the West End in June. They  also have a Broadway musical revival coming up, to be announced soon.  Jana is a proud recipient of The Jewish National Fund’s “Tree of Life” Award.  www.janarobbinsproductions.com

Her performance is dedicated to the memory of her beloved mother Edythe Elaine Eisenberg May 16, 1922 – Oct. 24, 2022

Tim Tuttle wrote the book, music and lyrics for 44 Lights: The Musical opening Wednesday nightTuttle spent a decade working as a trader on Wall Street, he moved to the world of commodities at the World Trade Center in the mid 90’s. On September 11th, 2001, everything changed. He got away safely that morning from Ground Zero, but he was forever altered by what he witnessed. The evening of 9/11, he wrote his first song. A song that would attempt to express the pain and loss he was suffering in the aftermath of the most tragic day in modern American history. He sang it to his wife Barbie in the darkness of their apartment. He kept writing as the list of friends and neighbors he knew had not returned home. He turned to music to heal. On the first anniversary of September 11th, he perform a memorial concert called “Music from Ground Zero”. 44 LIGHTS is a chance for Tim to tell his story, to remember the many who didn’t come home, and find a way to keep their memories alive forever.

44 Lights: The Musical, will begin Wednesday, May 15, 2024 at 7pm, for a limited engagement through Saturday, May 25, 2024 at AMT Theater (354 West 45th Street – between 8th & 9th Aves). Visit 44Lights.com for more information.

“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a show filmed in the lobby of the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. To see our past episodes; First episode click here second episode click here,  third episode click here, fourth episode click here, fifth episode click here, sixth episode here, seventh episode here, eighth episode here, ninth episode here, tenth episode here, eleventh episode here, our twelfth episode here and our thirteenth episode here.

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