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Theatre News: Transport Group, AI Joins The Phantom of the Opera, Kelli O’Hara Sings for a Cause, Roundabout Theatre Company and Cyndi Lauper Celebrate and The DirectorFest Starts

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Transport Group has announced that its annual A Toast to the Artist gala will honor former Transport Group executive director Lori Fineman and Tony Award-winning director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall with the Transporting American Theatre Award. The evening takes place Monday, April 6 at 6:30pm at Current, Pier 59 @ Chelsea Piers, and includes a cocktail party, seated dinner, performances, dessert reception, and silent and live auctions. The Transporting American Theatre Award recognizes significant contributions to the American Theatre. Past recipients of the Transporting American Theatre Award include Carmel Dean, Michael Starobin, Dick Scanlan, Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Michael John LaChiusa, Gretchen Shugart, Barbara Whitman, Beth Williams, Sue Frost, Christian Borle, Paul Huntley, Douglas Carter Beane, Lewis Flinn, A.R. Gurney, Liz Smith, Barbara Frietag, Terrence McNally, and Joe Mantello among others. Tickets are now on sale and may be purchased at transportgroup.org.

Broadw.ai, the leading AI platform solution for Broadway shows, announced today that The Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running musical in Broadway history, has launched a new skill for Amazon Alexa, providing fans a new, voice-forward way to engage with the Broadway production. For the first time, through an integration with Amazon Pay and Telecharge, customers can search for and purchase tickets entirely by voice.

“We have always prioritized new ways of engaging fans and selling tickets,” said David Andrews, Senior Vice President, Shubert Ticketing. “Working with Amazon and Broadw.ai, we’ve launched a completely new sales channel for our millions of Broadway fans.”

“We are thrilled to collaborate with The Phantom of the Opera to help create engaging, seamless experiences for their fans,” said Micah Hollingworth, Co-Founder and CEO of Broadw.ai. “In today’s fast-paced world, it is crucial for shows to have a way to converge and engage with guests instantaneously across multiple communications channels.”

Young (SAY.org) is thrilled to announce that legendary Broadway star Kelli O’Hara will be returning to Irvington, NY, for an enchanting solo concert to benefit SAY.  The concert will take place on  Thursday, January 16th, 2020 at the Irvington Theater (85 Main Street, Irvington, NY), in Westchester County, a short train ride from New York City. 

The benefit performance will feature Ms. O’Hara, one of Broadway’s greatest leading ladies, in a special, intimate evening of song and celebration, featuring Broadway favorites, standards, new musical theater selections, and more! Kelli is an avid supporter of SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young (www.say.org), hosting their Annual Benefit Gala each spring, sharing the stage with the kids of SAY often, and always going above and beyond to advocate for these inspiring young people. Proceeds from this special benefit concert will support families-in-need, and help SAY underwrite over $1,500,000 in Programming Costs and Financial Assistance this year.

Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes, Artistic Director/CEO) announces Tony, Grammy & Emmy Award winner Cyndi Lauper will join the 2020 Gala evening celebrating Tony Award winner and longtime friend Alan Cumming with The Jason Robards Award for Excellence in Theatre, and Michael Kors & Lance Le Pere with The Ovation Award for Excellence in Philanthropy. This year’s gala “The Life of the Party” is set for Monday, March 2 at the Ziegfeld Ballroom. Lauper will perform a unique concert created exclusively for the special occasion.

Roundabout is thrilled to welcome back Cyndi Lauper, following her acclaimed run in The Threepenny Opera at Studio 54 in 2006, alongside Alan Cumming. With a career spanning more than 40 years, Lauper has released eleven studio albums, sold more than 50 million albums and 20 million singles. Her album She’s So Unusual (1983) was the first debut album by a female artist to achieve four top-five hits on the Billboard Hot 100, and she was the first woman to win a Tony Award for Best Original Score for Kinky Boots. She has won awards at the Grammys, Emmys, Tonys, MTV Video Music Awards, Billboard Awards, and American Music Awards, and is an inductee into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She has been celebrated for her humanitarian work, particularly as an advocate for LGBT rights in the United States.

Alan Cumming has been a treasured member of the Roundabout family since 1998 when he exploded on to the New York theatre scene with his unforgettable Tony Award-winning performance in Cabaret. Michael Kors & Lance Le Pere have been incredible friends to Roundabout for over a decade and have provided generous financial support that has paved the way for more than a dozen musicals to be produced on Roundabout stages.

Caryl Churchill’s Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?, directed by Tara Elliott and dramaturged by Laura, opens this weekend at the New Ohio Theatre!

The Drama League (Artistic Director Gabriel Stelian-Shanks, Executive Director Bevin Ross) announced today the acting company for the 36th annual DirectorFest, the only festival in the United States dedicated to the art of contemporary stage directing. Directorfest will take place January 10 – February 4, 2020 at various locations around NYC: The New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher Street), The Drama League Theater Center (32 Avenue of the Americas), LaGuardia Performing Arts Center (31-10 Thomson Avenue), and Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette Street). For festival details and tickets, visit directorfest.org or call (212) 244-9494 x102. Industry/Theatre Professionals may request tickets by emailingDirectorFest@dramaleague.org.

For its 36th year, the festival will include 27 actors in six fully-staged productions and a concert of a new docu-play with music. Taking place over five weeks in venues across Manhattan, highlights of the festival include all-new stagings of works by Michael John LaChiusa (Hello Again) and Harold Pinter (The Lover), revivals of rarely-seen works by Tina Howe (Appearances) and Marcus Gardley (The Sporting Life of Icarus Jones), and Beth Graham, Charlie Tomlinson and Daniela Vlaskalic (The Drowning Girls), a concert of songs from the new docu-play with music byMatthew Dean Marsh and Oscar Lopez (Riot Song), and the North American premiere of a new theatrical immersive experience created by Belgian director Christian Bakalov (Pure).

Chosen last spring from over 400 applicants, the directors leading the festival’s new productions this year — NJ Agwuna, Chika Ike, Rebecca Marzalek-Kelly, Lindsey Hope Pearlman, Ben Randle, Hannah Ryan, and Mr. Bakalov — recently completed their development programs as part of The Drama League Directors Project.

The festival also includes conversations with 2017 Tony Award Winner Rebecca Taichman(Indecent), 2014 Tony Award Winner and 2010 Drama League Founders Award for Excellence in Directing Kenny Leon (A Soldier’s Play), and Intimacy Director Claire Warden (HBO’s “Mrs. Fletcher”).

The creative team for Directorfest is: Gabriel Stelian- Shanks (Artistic Director), Bevin Ross(Executive Director), Ali Skye Bennet (Artistic Line Producer), Nilan (Associate Artistic Director), Patrick Surillo (Artistic Coordinator), Kate Holland (Production Manager), Cate McCrea (Scenic Designer), Amanda Gladu (Costume Designer), Lois Gordon (Lighting Designer), DJ Potts (Sound Designer), Calvin Stara (Technical Director), Stephen DeAngelis (Casting Director, Hello Again, and Appearances), Gama Valle/Harriet Bass Casting (Casting Director, The Drowning Girls), Erica A. Hart (Casting Director, The Sporting Life of Icarus Jones and The Lover), Justin Ellington(Music Director, The Sporting Life of Icarus Jones), Jesse Kissel (Music Director, Hello Again),Melanie Aponte (Stage Manager, The Lover), Arielle Goldstein (Stage Manager, Appearances), Karen Schleifer (Production Stage Manager, Hello Again), and Evangeline Whitlock (Stage Manager, Pure).

During Directorfest, the featured directors will join the ranks of the illustrious 350+ alumni of The Drama League Directors Project, including Tony® Award winners Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown), Christopher Ashley (Come From Away), Rebecca Taichman (Indecent), Diane Paulus (Jagged Little Pill), Michael Mayer (Little Shop of Horrors), Sam Gold (Fun Home), Pam MacKinnon (The Parisian Woman), John Rando (On The Town), Tony Award nominees Alex Timbers (Moulin Rouge!), Lila Neugebauer (The Waverly Gallery), Moritz von Steulpnagel (Bernhardt/Hamlet), and Mark Brokaw (Heisenberg), to name only a few. Many of the nation’s prominent theaters are led by Drama League alumni directors including Ms. MacKinnon at San Francisco’s A.C.T., Mr. Ashley at La Jolla Play House in San Diego, Ms. Paulus at Boston’s American Repertory Theatre, James Bundy of Yale Repertory Theatre, Kevin Moriarty of Dallas Theater Center, Laura Kepley at Cleveland Play House, and many more.

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Broadway

Lempicka Brings An Artist Work Back To Life

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In 1984, I saw the interactive show Tamara based on the life of the artist Tamara de Lempicka in LA and fell in love with it, so much so that it has stayed one of my favorites to this day. Lempicka is a new musical based more on her sexual choices than her stylized Art Deco portraits that changed and inspired generations. She was one of the first feminists, as Tamara choose art, sexual freedom and a lifestyle in a time of war and destruction.


The musical starts out on a park bench in LA as an older Tamara (Eden Espinosa) reflects on her life. Flash back to Warsaw, Poland as Tamara is to be wed to Lempicka (Andrew Samonsky) an aristocrat and is to live a life of luxury. Then the Bolshevik’s in prison her husband, she uses sexual favors to free him and they flee to Paris with their daughter. When her husband is unwilling to work she becomes a painter and uses the name Lempicka. There she is befriended by a wealthy art patron (Nathaniel Stampley) and his wife (Beth Leavel), is influenced by Marinetti (George Abu), the founder of the Futurist art movement, and is inspired and in love with Rafaela (Amber Iman). Both Lempicka and the musical come alive at this point. Tamara finds friendship and solace with a nightclub owner, Suzy (Natalie Joy Johnson), who gives her and others like her a refuge, until the Nazi’s invade. In the end, while breaking ground Lempicka’s life style becomes rather self centered or should I say one of self preservation as she loses her husband, her daughter and her lover.

Amber Iman, Eden Espinosa Photo by Matthew Murphy/Evan Zimmerman

Matt Gould’s music and Carson Kreitzer’s lyrics are well sung and the show sounds glorious. This is a new take on pop music. The problem here is the minor characters get the songs that make the show come alive. Iman, Abu and Johnson almost steal the show with their numbers. Level gets the 11 O’Clock number and breaks our hearts. Though Espinoza has some good numbers and sells them, none of them really stand out.

George Abud photo by Matthew Murphy/Evan Zimmerman)

Kreitzer also conceived the book and wrote it with Gould. Again the show does and doesn’t work. Instead of focusing on Lempicka’s art, the changing world around her and the fact that she was one of the first feminists, the story is more focused on lesbian repression. The show is billed as a triangle of love, but her husband once they get to Paris is in his own world until she gets together with Rafaela a prostitute. Rachel Chavkin’s direction makes the scenes between Rafaela and Lempicka beautiful and in a strange sense if feels a little like Indecent, however the show as a whole doesn’t jell.

Photo by Matthew Murphy/Evan Zimmerman

I did like Raja Feather Kelly’s choreography that seemed to evoke the changing world around.

Riccardo Hernández’s set of steel, seems like the world is on the verge of collapse and rebuilding. The lighting by Bradley King and projections by Peter Hylenski and Justin Stasi added to that effect. Paloma Young’s costumes missed the mark and seemed like they were in two different stories.

The reason to see Lempicka is it is sung and acted gloriously.

Once you see Lempicka, you will realize how much Tamara de Lempicka’s art change and influenced the world of art. This was a woman who survived at all costs and that should always be admired.

Lempicka: Longacre Theatre, 220 West 48th Street.
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Ken Fallin’s Broadway: The Outsiders

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These boys are taking Broadway by storm Jason Schmidt, Sky Lakota-Lynch, and Brody Grant. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1967, the hardened hearts and aching souls of Ponyboy Curtis, Johnny Cade and their chosen family of “outsiders” are in a fight for survival and a quest for purpose in a world that may never accept them. A story of the bonds that brothers share and the hopes we all hold on to, this gripping new musical reinvigorates the timeless tale of “haves and have nots”, of protecting what’s yours and fighting for what could be.

The Outsiders opened on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 W 45th Street.

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We Say Good Bye To Costume Designer Extraordinaire Carrie Robbins

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I met Carrie Robbins at an art gallery with Louis St Louis, Baayork Lee and Judy Jacksina. The four of us stayed well into the morning talking, laughing and having a fabulous time. Carrie and I bonded after that as she turned to playwriting. It broke my heart to learn that on the evening of April 12, 2024 Costume Designer extraordinaire Carrie Robbins passed away.

Carrie’s work has been featured in over 30+ Broadway shows, including Class Act, Grease (original), Agnes of God, Yentl, Octette Bridge Club, Sweet Bird of Youth (Lauren Bacall), Frankenstein, Happy End (Mary Streep), Boys of Winter, Cyrano (Frank Langella), & Shadow Box (Mercedes Ruehl).

Her awards and nominations included: 2012 recipient of the Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Theatre Development Fund & the tdf/Costume Collection with the support of the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund. 2 Tony (Noms.), 5 Drama Desks, Maharam, USITT/Prague International, L.A. Dramalogue, Henry Hughes, F.I.T-Surface Design, & Audelco, among others.

Robbins’ costumes for the Irving Berlin musical White Christmas played major cities in the USA, Broadway, and Great Britain. Her regional work included M. Butterfly and On the Verge, for director Tazewell Thompson (Arena Stage) and the Gershwin musical American in Paris by Ken Ludwig for director Gregory Boyd (Alley Theatre, Houston) as well as The Tempest (Anthony Hopkins as Prospero) & Flea in Her Ear (director Tom Moore at Mark Taper Forum), many productions for the Guthrie (MN), Williamstown, and many others from Alaska to Buffalo.


Locally, in NYC, Robbins designed for many productions for The Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre, Chelsea Theatre at BAM, Acting Company at Juilliard and NY Shakespeare Festival.

She also designed for the Opera and they included Death in Venice for Glimmerglass (’08 Prague International Design Exhibit), Samson et Dalila (San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand, more), and many productions for Sarah Caldwell’s Opera Company of Boston. Her work has also been seen at the Hamburg StatsOper.

For film Robbins designed the movie “In The Spirit” (Elaine May, Peter Falk, Marlo Thomas); TV design included: Saturday Nite Live, PBS Arts in America, & several unseen pilots.

Robbins has designed clothes for several seasons of Queen Esther Marrow and The Harlem Gospel Singers’ European Tour. She also did the designs for The Cincinnati Ballet’s new Nutcracker, in December of 2011

Robbins was an MFA grad from the Yale School of Drama and was Master Teacher of Costume Design at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts for many years. She is extremely proud of the extraordinary number of award-winning, successful young costume designers and costume teachers across the country who came out of her classes.

Besides being a costume designer Carrie also was a playwright. In August 2010, her play, The Death & Life of Dr. Cutter, a Vaudeville, based on the true stories told by her husband Dr. R.D.Robbins, had its 4th reading at the Snapple Theatre Center; it was chosen by Abingdon Theatre Co, NYC, to be part of its First Readings Series in Fall, 2009. In 2011-12 the  League of Professional Theatre Women chose The Dragon Quartet as part of its 30th year anniversary celebration. In 2012-13, La MaMa (oldest off-off-Broadway theater in NYC at 51 years) chose The Diamond Eater for its “Concert Reading Series”. In 2013: TACT (The Actors Company Theatre, chose Sawbones for part of its newTACTics New Play Festival. In 2014 both The Diamond Eater and Sawbones  received 6 Nominations from N.Y. Innovative Theatre Awards (the most nominations given out in the 2014 season). In 2015, Le Wedding Dress, was a semi-finalist in NYNewWorks Theatre Festival. In 2016: Obsessions Of An Art Student chosen by NYNewWorks Theatre Festival. In 2016, The Actress, was a finalist in NY Thespis Summer Festival. In 2017, My Swollen Feet, chosen by NY Summerfest Theatre Festival/ Hudson Guild Theatre. In 2018 The Diamond Eater , semi-finalist at the 14th St. Y competition War + Peace/2018/19 season and The Dragon Griswynd, was chosen by Theater for the New City for its “Dream-Up Festival” In 2019 Pie Lessons, was invited by Crystal Field, Exec. Artistic Director of Theater for the New City, to be part of “Scratch Night at TNC”.

The last thing Carrie was working on was For The Lost Children Of Paris. This play was about how the Nazis, with help from the Vichy Government, collected French-Jewish schoolchildren and delivered them to Auschwitz. Excellent German record-keeping revealed 11,400 children were taken. At the liberation, only 200 were found alive. This is the story of one classroom’s collection day and its aftermath.

She did this play using puppets as the children.

Carrie had a voice that she used in a multiple of ways. She was a caring friend, a dedicated teacher, a prolific writer and costume designer, who always cared about others first. Carrie you will be missed.

 





 

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Patti LuPone Returns to Broadway and The Big Screen

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Three-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone, who gave up her Equity card in 2022, will star opposite Mia Farrow in Jen Silverman’s new play, The Roommate. The production will be directed by Jack O’Brien and will begin previews at the Booth Theatre in August ahead of a September opening.

The Roommate tells the story of Sharon, in her mid-fifties, who is recently divorced and needs a roommate to share her Iowa home. Robyn, also in her mid-fifties, needs a place to hide and a chance to start over. But as Sharon begins to uncover Robyn’s secrets, they encourage her own deep-seated desire to transform her life completely. A dark comedy about what it takes to re-route your life – and what happens when the wheels come off.

The Roommate premiered at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville in March 2015, and has had several regional productions including at Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2017.

Ms. LuPone will star in the upcoming Marvel series, WandaVision spinoff series Agatha: Coven of Chaos. She’s in a coven of witches, playing Lilia Calderu, who is hot, with a great body and hair. Calderu, first appeared in Marvel comics in 1973 as a 450-year-old Sicilian witch whose power is divination and whose trial is tarot. The other witches are Kathryn Hahn, Aubrey Plaza, and a familiar who is played by Joe Locke. Locke, is currently on Broadway in Sweeney Todd.

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Cabaret Celebrated Broadway Legend Joel Grey’s Birthday

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Last night, Eddie Redmayne currently in previews as the ‘Emcee’ in Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club celebrated Broadway legend Joel Grey’s 92ndbirthday on stage at the August Wilson Theatre. Grey, who originated the role of the ‘Emcee’ on Broadway in 1966 and went on to star in the beloved film of Cabaret, took the stage as the entire cast, band, and creative team sang “Happy Birthday” while a custom cake, shaped like a giant pineapple, emerged from the stage.

 During his speech honoring Grey, Eddie Redmayne said, “Tonight is an extraordinarily special night for us because we are in the presence of an extraordinary human being without whom none of us would be here.” After thunderous applause, Redmayne continued “Your performance in this part changed my life and it was one of the things that made me want to be an actor.”

Joel Grey, Gayle Rankin, and Eddie Redmayne Photo by Jenny Anderson

The cast and Grey were also joined on stage by Cabaret composer John Kander.

Alongside Joel’s daughter Jennifer Grey and Kander, a star-studded crowd came out to fete the theater icon including Anderson Cooper, Candice Bergen, Jackie Hoffman, Jane Krakowski, Lin-Manuel Miranda, David Rockwell, and more. They were joined by numerous alum of Cabaret spanning the decades including Maude Apatow (Sally Bowles in London, 2023), Madeline Brewer (Sally Bowles in London, 2022), Joely Fisher (Sally Bowles on Broadway, 2000), Gina Gershon (Sally Bowles on Broadway, 2001), Mason Alexander Park (Emcee in London, 2023), Adam Pascal (Emcee on Broadway, 2003), Molly Ringwald (Sally Bowles on Broadway, 2002), Jake Shears (Emcee in London, 2023), and Brooke Shields (Sally Bowles on Broadway, 2001).

Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club is now in previews on Broadway at the August Wilson Theatre (245 West 52nd Street). The production, directed by Olivier Award winner Rebecca Frecknall and designed by Tony Award nominee and Evening Standard Award® winner Tom Scutt, will have decadent twin opening night gala celebrations starting Saturday, April 20 and continuing into the following night, with the official press opening on Sunday, April 21. Tickets are on sale now at www.kitkat.club or via Seat Geek HERE.

In addition to Redmayne, Cabaret also stars Gayle Rankin as the toast of Mayfair ‘Sally Bowles, two-time Tony Award winner Bebe Neuwirth as ‘Fraulein Schneider,’ Tony Award nominee Ato Blankson-Wood as ‘Clifford Bradshaw,’ Obie Award winner and Drama Desk Award® nominee Steven Skybell as ‘Herr Schultz,’ Henry Gottfried as ‘Ernst Ludwig,’ and three-time Helen Hayes Award winner Natascia Diaz as ‘Fritzie/Kost.’

The cast of Cabaret includes Gabi Campo as ‘Frenchie,’ Ayla Ciccone-Burton as ‘Helga,’ Colin Cunliffe as ‘Hans,’ Marty Lauter as ‘Victor,’ Loren Lester as‘Herman/Max,’ David Merino as ‘Lulu,’ Julian Ramos as ‘Bobby,’ MiMi Scardulla as ‘Texas,’ and Paige Smallwood as ‘Rosie.’ Swings include Hannah Florence, Pedro Garza, Christian Kidd, Corinne Munsch, Chloé Nadon-Enriquez, and Karl Skyler Urban.

The Prologue Company, the dancers and musicians that welcome audiences to the club, feature dancers Alaïa, IRON BRYAN, Will Ervin Jr., Sun Kim, Deja McNair and swings Ida Saki and Spencer James Weidie. The musicians of the Prologue are Brian Russell Carey (piano & bass), Francesca Dawis (violin), Keiji Ishiguri (dedicated substitute), Maeve Stier (accordion), and Michael Winograd (clarinet).

For this thrilling production of Cabaret, the creative team have transformed the August Wilson Theatre into the Kit Kat Club with an in-the-round auditorium and custom spaces which guests will be invited to explore during the Prologue, the production’s pre-show entertainment. After purchasing tickets, guests will receive a “club entry time” to allow them to take in the world of the club before the show starts.

Patrons can upgrade their experience at the Kit Kat Club with exclusive dining or drinks packages that allow them to soak up the pre-show atmosphere. These various upgrades offer unparalleled service and unique experiences in the heart of the Kit Kat Club. Drinks can be enjoyed before and during the show, while food will be cleared shortly before the performance begins, ensuring uninterrupted and unmissable views of Cabaret. For a complete menu and more information on the upgrade packages, please visit www.kitkat.club/upgrade.

The 2021 Original London Cast Recording of Cabaret featuring Eddie Redmayne and recorded during a live performance is available on Decca Records as a CD and to stream on all major platforms. To order the album or stream it, please visit https://cabaret.lnk.to/ListenNow

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