Les Miserables

All posts tagged Les Miserables

Susan Black is a long time fan from Eastern England and these are her Six Sensational Songs.

Nessun Dorma, from Matt Lucas’ kitchen – Susan heard Alfie sing this and has never been the same since!

Run, at Hampton Court Palace, 2017.

Je Crois Entendre Encore at Thetford – apparently, according to Sue, you could “hear a pin drop”.

Bring Him Home – as if you didn’t know!

Dimming of the Day at the Royal Albert Hall with the lovely Emilia Mitiku.

My all time favourite!

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Exciting times for Les Mis fans as not only will Alfie Boe be starring in the West End concert version later this year, but John Owen-Jones will be sharing the role with him! John remains the youngest actor to play Jean Valjean and most recently, took over from Alfie on Broadway. Speaking since the announcement, John said “It’s been nearly ten years since the last time I played Jean Valjean in Les Miserables in London. I’m really excited to be going back to the role in what will be such a special version of the show. I am also delighted to note that when I appear in this production at the Gielgud Theatre, I shall have appeared as Jean Valjean in every London theatre in which the show has played!” John also featured as part of Club 24601, which took place to mark the thirtieth birthday of Les Mis.

Aptly, John has today released his fifth studio album, Spotlight. The songs are mostly from the world of musical theatre and have clearly been chosen to form a coherent narrative throughout, beginning with From Now On and ending with Goodbye from the Broadway musical Catch Me If You Can and Rocky Horror Show’s I’m Going Home. Choosing some classic songs that join together with newer tracks, the result is sheer class.

Beauty and the Beast’s Evermore is a song that has begun to be recorded by several artists and no wonder; the beautiful melody perfectly suit the range and strength of John’s voice. The last note alone is worth the album price – John says it might be the longest note he’s ever recorded and it surely must be!

The Prayer is a duet made famous by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli but has been sung and recorded by many artists since it’s first appearance. On Spotlight, John duets with fellow Welsh singer, Lucie Jones and the result is magical. Lucie’s lovely voice blends exquisitely with John’s and leaves the listener wanting to hear from them both. Other highlights from the album include I Dreamed a Dream, a version which has been specially arranged to incorporate musical motifs reminiscent of Jean Valjean, rather than Fantine, for whom the Les Mis song is written. It is a very restrained performance and brought to mind the eloquence of John’s Bring Him Home.

Climb Every Mountain has a very dramatic opening, whilst I defy anyone to listen to Raise Me Up without standing up and singing along at the top of their voice! The inclusion of Spandau Ballet’s Through the Barricades is a surprise but a happy one – the track is nicely understated and as John says, would work in a musical. Ending with a toned down version of I’m Going Home, John first shows us Goodbye, from the short lived musical, Catch Me If You Can, based on the movie of the same name. Upbeat and catchy, t’s a perfect musical theatre song and good to hear something that a lot of the audience might not be familiar with.

Spotlight is available to order here.

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In news sure to electrify fans of both Alfie Boe and Michael Ball, it is today confirmed that both will return to the London stage of Les Miserables – albeit in a fully staged concert version. Scheduled to run for sixteen weeks at the Gielgud theatre from August 10, this solves the conundrum of what to do with the super musical while it’s current home, the Queen’s Theatre, is being refurbished this summer.

Alfie will reprise the role of Jean Valjean, whereas Ball will take the role of Javert – if we weren’t excited before, we are now! This is a super exciting cast announcement, especially given that Matt Lucas will return to play Thenardier and Fantine will be played by West End star Carrie Hope Fletcher. In addition, another wonderful Valjean, John Owen-Jones will be returning for three shows a week.

Earlier today, Alex Bellfield of Celebrity Radio shared a YouTube chat with Alfie:

Tickets will be on sale here from 12 noon Thursday 7 February

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The penultimate date of Alfie Boe and Michael Ball’s Together Again 2017 tour was in Nottingham and Heather Moore was there to review it for us:

One word: wow! Alfie and Michael know how to put on a show. The Arena was packed for the duo’s return to Nottingham. Last year they played the Royal Concert Hall three times  and I was lucky to see them twice. I also saw them in Lincoln in the Summer and saw Alfie in the brilliant Carousel at ENO.

It was great to watch the gents tonight and I have to say this is the best I have seen them together; they are always wonderful but tonight they excelled their already high standards.  The show started with a montage of photos of the pair’s travels and backstage the song from Sunset Boulevard fitted the bill perfectly.

The first half had many stand out moments, from The Rose, a duet on Love Changes Everything, He Lives in You from the Lion King and A Thousand Years. I also really liked the song Hero, one I haven’t really played much but will do in future. I also liked You’ll Be Back although it makes me want to spend money on a ticket to see Hamilton.  Alfie and Michael mix classics with more recent hits and both have great taste in music hence the Queen medley. Both also have great banter, with various jokes around The Robin Hood Energy sign (sponsors of the arena) and both swore at times in a good natured way of course. It was very funny and the audience lapped it up. Both gents seemed very at home on the stage and enjoyed wowing the crowd.

The second half was like going onto the second layer of chocolates – the audience wanted more and the audience got much more. The solo spots were fab , Michael’s version of the Impossible Dream gained a standing ovation. Alfie’s version of Wagon Wheel was sublime but his walkabout during Run stole the show. He really wowed the crowd and his performance was heartfelt. Other highlights from both were Bring Me Sunshine and New York, New York.  I enjoyed the Les Miserables medley especially Master of the House and Alfie, you made me sob again during Bring Him Home which was  just perfect. One Day More brought the section to a close and once again I couldn’t help thinking I would like to see Ball’s Javert to Boe’s Val Jean, especially after Michael’s version of Stars, so special too. The pair are so well matched and their sense of fun ending in the Wham Medley is captivating and catching – dancing in the aisle ensued. You could tell Alfie enjoyed tonight and with the final winter show at the O2 the two friends will go separate ways but I hope after the solo projects next year we have a together three. These gentleman are having a blast and this radiates into the audience.  Ten out of Ten.

Thanks for another fabulous review Heather.

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The summer tour is over but no need to cry because we are in the rather unusual position of having lots to look forward to!  Performances in three countries, a new album, we’re in danger of being rather spoilt in the latter half of 2017.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at six more sensational songs, this time from Karen Rogers.  I first met Karen, very briefly, at a Storyteller album signing in London’s Oxford Street and since then we have run into each other at several concerts, culminating in a memorable evening in Bournemouth last year.  Ball and Boe were the warm up act for an absolutely hilarious evening with our Boe Buddies – how many Alfie Boe fans can you get into a single hotel room was the name of the game!  Here are Karen’s six songs:

A Living Prayer, which appears in this series for the fourth time now.  Karen says “I’m not religious in any shape or form but absolutely love this song. The words, even as a non believer are so very beautiful. The video that accompanies the song is lovely too and adds to the emotion.”

Bring Him Home at the 25th anniversary concert.  Karen says that she chose it because “as Alfie’s signature song how could I not include it? However the reason I chose it was because of the memories it evokes. I never thought I would get to see Alfie, live, in Les Miserables but when he announced he would be reprising the role in New York I knew I had to get there. I went with the lovely Carole Hunt and we saw him 4 times. Each time was as special as the first. The picture in my head of him sat at the barricade with Marius at his side asleep as he sings it brings tears to my mind every time. Very special times.”  We don’t have footage of his stage appearances so I chose this video as the next best thing.

Doctor Jimmy, from Classic Quadrophenia – what a fabulous evening that was.  Karen says “I absolutely love this song for the totally shallow reason that Alfie says the f’ word!!! I know its awful to admit but I do. The raw emotion as he swears is amazing. As the wife of a Who fan who was totally bowled over by Alfie’s performance at the RAH I cannot put into words how special it all was.”

Run – Karen’s choice because “it’s a fabulous song with wonderful words but given the Alfie Boe treatment becomes an all time great anthem.”

It’s Only Love – another song that gets me up and dancing every time!  Karen chose it as she “absolutely adored Alfie on the Storyteller Tour. It is as a Rock God that I adore him the most.His performance of the song as he charged from side of the stage to the other, jumping on the speakers in those tight jeans was sublime.”

O Sole Mio / Now or Never at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  Karen says “again it shows his versatility as he goes from classic to rock and roll. The highlight for me of the Queens Jubilee. Rocking out in his tight black jeans (I do love him in tight jeans!) and lovely black shirt. Doing what no one expected him to do and bringing the house down in the process. Fantastic!”

Thanks Karen for six very different choices – I love seeing the songs people choose and the reasons why.

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Ever since news broke that Alfie Boe would play JM Barrie in Broadway’s Finding Neverland, expectations from fans have been sky high,  So, with Alfie’s opening night this week, our fabulous regular New York reviewer, Roberta, went along to not only the first night, but the following day’s matinee as well.  This is her review of the two performances.

Alfie Boe not only flew from Les Miz to Neverland as the headlines read but soared. The role of J. M. Barrie could have been written for Alfie. His youthful exuberance when playing with Peter and his brothers in the park or at the dining room table (great scene) and his caring and tenderness towards their mother exemplify qualities we have all associated with Alfie.

As was expected Alfie’s singing was extraordinary. I had seen this show last year with Matthew Morrison and thought the score was rather bland. I am not sure how he did it but Alfie breathed new life into these songs. They became vital and colourful and you left the theatre humming them.  The most impressive and surprising thing about Alfie’s performance in his new role was his mastery of the very complex choreography which dominates act 1.  Anyone thinking Alfie has moved into an easier, less exhausting role in Neverland (which included me) from Les Miz is mistaken.  Alfie jumps on and off benches, twirls around lamp posts, chases children through a park, is turned upside down and leaps over a park bench landing on his feet all in perfect time to the music on a stage filled with other performers. It is truly amazing to watch him do all this with such pinpoint accuracy while sometimes singing at the same time.   All this comes in the first act and Alfie seemed much more relaxed in act 2, developing a nice relationship with Laura Michelle Kelly’s character, Sylvia.  The audience even applauded when Barrie and Sylvia finally kiss, although I have to note that they did the same when Matthew Morrison was in the role.

A month ago almost to the day I had watched Alfie as a dying, old man utter the words “to love another person is to see the face of God”.  Last night I saw Alfie as an imaginative author creating Peter Pan and becoming the father of four orphan boys.  To me this is a truly remarkable transformation and a testimony to Alfie’s skills and abilities.  He is truly brilliant in both roles.

Thanks for that great review Roberta, as ever you made me feel as if I was there watching.

FN 1st night

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I am a huge fan of musical theatre and as we get towards the end of January, I’ve teamed up with Angry Baby’s Flo Bannigan to share her top ten ‘must see’ musicals of 2016.  The shows are in no particular order and are from both Broadway and the West End so if you can get to New York or London this year, these are the shows to see.

Alfie Boe in Les Miserables:
Anyone who knows their tenors will already be well aware that Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean is the ticket to die for. His run in the role on Broadway ends in February, but he has already spilled the beans that he will be moving straight into another show. The question is – which one? With rehearsal time to assimilate a new leading man anything from two weeks to two months, we may not know for quite a while, but we can be sure that any show which Alfie headlines will sell out fast.

Hamilton:
You’d have to have been living under a rock to not have heard of this one by now. After a sell out run at the Public Theatre, Hamilton moved to Broadway in August 2015. Click here to read more.

The Color Purple:
The Color Purple‘s revival first played at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory in 2013 before moving to Broadway in December of 2015. Although having only just opened, it has received amazing reviews and is set to be a big contender at 2016’s Tony Awards.

Sheridan Smith:
Although Sheridan Smith is not, strictly speaking, a musical theatre moment, she is definitely one to watch out for in 2016. I first saw her on the West End in Legally Blonde years ago, and she’ll be back in 2016 as Fanny Brice in the revival of Funny Girl. In 2015 it opened at the Menier Chocolate Factory, where it will continue to play to sell out audiences in early 2016 before moving to the West End in April.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch:
This is a bittersweet one, as Hedwig and the Angry Inch closed on Broadway in September. However this is because it is making plans to come to London in the near future! Yay!

School of Rock:
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation of the hit movie School of Rock opened on Broadway in 2015. It is planning to open at the London Palladium too, in late 2016. Watch out for hordes of child actors competing for the hottest roles since Matilda – good luck kids, you all deserve the break!

Spring Awakening:
Deaf West Theatre’s revival of Spring Awakening, which incorporates sign language into the original show, opened on Broadway in 2015. Although it is a strictly limited engagement, it is wowing audiences every single night.

The King And I:
A revival of The King and I opened on Broadway in 2015, starring Kelli O’Hara and Hoon Lee. It picked up a fair few Tonys at the 2015 awards, and looks like it’ll run for a lot longer yet. It’s a show with lots of memories for the blogger behind Angry Baby, Flo Bannigan, as she played one of the King’s children in the 2012 UK tour.

Finding Neverland:
Another screen to stage adaptation, that started life at Leicester’s ‘Curve’ theatre, Finding Neverland opened on Broadway starring Glee’s Matthew Morrison. It did not receive any Tony nominations, but it is still selling out and stunning audiences. Matthew Morrison will be leaving the show early in 2016 and his replacement, Tony Yazbeck, is sure to bring something new to the role.

Beautiful:
Beautiful has been playing on Broadway for a while now, and this year Chilina Kennedy replaced Jessie Mueller in the starring role of Carole King. In 2015 it opened on the West End and its a show I’d love to catch at some point.

So there you have our top ten shows for 2016, a mix of the classic and the new – clips from all shows can be found in this playlist:

Hope you get the chance to see at least one of them this year!

Massive thanks to Flo Bannigan for writing this and sharing with me!

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Back in July 2014 I posted 40 reasons to love Alfie Boe – another blog post mentioning 50 shades was recently suggested so here is 50 Shades of Boe…or 50 reasons to love Alfie!

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1. This is his most famous song – do you need another reason to love Alfie?

2. Nick Jonas’s (Marius in 25th Les Mis) brother Joe was in La Boheme on Broadway with alfie

3. Alfie hails from Fleetwood, Lancashire (although he was born in Blackpool in 1973).

4. Alfie is the youngest of nine siblings (4 boys and 5 girls) born to Alfred and Pat.

5. Alfie loves cooking and once considered becoming a chef (although he did once cut his finger on live TV!)

6. Other career changes considered include a personal trainer for the Salt Lake City police force.

7. Alfie is a Lyric Tenor which means his vocal range (excluding falsetto) is approximately the C one octave below middle C (C3) to the D one octave above middle C (D5) with the ability to extend a little to either side.

8. Alfie played Jean ValJean in the 25th Anniversary Les Miserables concert and at the Queens Theatre for 5 months in 2011 – but you all knew that one right?

9. When playing JVJ as The Mayor in Les Mis, Alfie used to wear the socks belonging to the convict JVJ costume in order to better inhabit the role.

10. Alfie once bunked off opera rehearsals in Strasbourg to see Bob Dylan in concert – apparently it was worth it!

11. Alfie is married to an American actress, Sarah Boe.  They met in San Francisco.

12. Alfie was the subject of a South Bank Show documentary in 2013.

13. Alfie once supported the Fron Male Voice Choir on tour.

14. David Miller of Il Divo was in La Boheme on Broadway with Alfie (they played alternate nights as Rodolfo).

15. Alfie recorded some demo Queen tracks at Abbey Road studios whilst a student – he listened back with obvious embarrassment on a recent documentary!

16. Alfie used to work at the Blackpool Opera House in a backstage / security role.

17. Alfie has recorded Empty Chairs, Empty Tables with two of the singers who played Marius: Michael Ball (original Marius and 10th anniversary concert) and Nick Jonas (25th anniversary concert).

18. Alfie recorded Barcelona with Katherine Jenkins for her 2014 album, Home Sweet Home – having first sung it live at Freddie for a Day with Laura Wright in 2013.

19. Alfie was a body mechanic at the TVR factory in Bispham – if you know nothing else about Alfie, you know that!!

20. After graduating from the Royal College of Music, Alfie went on to train at the National Opera Studio.

21. Won the Christie prize at Glyndebourne for Albert Herring.

22. Appeared on several Clint Boon Experience albums as “opera dude”.

23. Spent a few nights sleeping on a park bench in Hyde Park “in between digs” so to speak.

24. Played drums in a local rock band, Whisky Train as a teenager.

25. Alfie is an ambassador for the Prince’s Foundation for Children and The Arts.

26. Alfie sang at the wedding of Peter and Autumn Phillips. (Ave Maria and Panis Angelicus).

27. Alfie famously prefers to perform in opera, rather than listen to them – this is usually quoted incorrectly as “Alfie hates opera”.

28. Alfie often takes fans cameras and phones and takes photos of himself and the band on stage – perks of being front row!

29. New Zealand operatic trio Sol3 Mio supported Alfie on his recent UK tour – here they are singing Volare together:

30. Alfie auditioned (and was called back) for Raoul in Phantom of the Opera – the RCM beckoned though and we shall have to imagine his Raoul.

31. Won a Tony Award as part of the cast of La Boheme on Broadway.

32. First professional audition was for the D’oyly Carte Opera company – he sang You Are My Hearts Delight.

33. Moonwalked across the stage during final performance of Romeo et Juliette at the Royal Opera House.

34. Appeared on Vanessa Feltz’s BBC Radio 2 programme as part of the Wednesday Words of Warmth – his tip to get through a Wednesday was to make a big bowl of meat pasta sauce.

35. West London Karaoke Champion 1994 singing Suspicious Minds.

36. Patron of Trinity Hospice, Blackpool.

37. First recording Alfie appears on is Die Fledermaus, with the D’oyly Carte company (in the chorus).

38. Suffered from chlorine poisoning whilst filming a projection for The Pearl Fishers at the ENO.

39. Brother Michael is also a talented singer, recent album is called A La Voix.

40. Alfie and Sarah’s first dance at the their wedding was Led Zeppelin’s Rain Song.

41. First, and so far only, performer, with Renee Fleming to sing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace (at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations).

42. Alfie was first introduced to La Boheme by his brother Michael – thank you Michael!

43. Alfie is great at comedy falls – as witnessed by viewers of Jonathan Ross show in October 2013!

44. Twitter often mentions how much Alfie looks like Declan Donnelly – maybe, but only without his beard – judge for yourself:

dec

45. Knows nothing about dancing – as evidenced by his appearances on Strictly It Takes Two!

46. First song with lyrics written by Alfie recorded for Serenata 2014: My Heart is Yours.

47. Singing the role of Jimmy in Classic Quadrophenia in July 2015 – another one you all knew surely!

48. Used 40lbs of ice in the ALS ice bucket challenge.

49. Has a golden retriever, Guinness and a black and white cat, name???

50. A photo of Alfie; together with his amazing voice, what other reason to you need to love Alfie Boe? (thanks to Carole Hunt who took this gorgeous photo and generously allowed me to use it on my blog – what a star xx)

alfie-carfest.jpg

 

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With the New Year celebrations over for another year, it’s time for our first Friday Round Up in 2015 and the first since before Christmas.  Luckily for us, there was a new interview aired this week on BBC Radio Cornwall.  Alfie was interviewed way back in September by Debbie McCrory and they held the whole hour long interview back until this week – just the thing to banish the post tour blues. Thanks Marcia for sharing:

There’s a lot of chat about Les Mis as you would expect (Debbie had previously interviewed Alfie after the 25th anniversary) and amusing to hear Alfie struggling to say something good about Russell Crowe as Javert.  Damning with faint praise I think it’s called!  Also, some nice chat about Murray (he’s a Cornish lad) and the recording process of Serenata as opposed to Love Was A Dream.  Both were quick but one was considerably quicker!  A nice selection of music from Alfie’s earlier career too although it would have been nice to hear some of the Lehar as it was referenced in the interview.  Radio interviewers do tend to play a varied choice of music from Alfie’s career but Love Was A Dream never seems to get a look in – wonder why?  Slippers story gets another airing too!

In addition, Alfie was a guest on Bruce’s Hall of Fame on 27 December.  He sang Volare in tribute to Dean Martin which was lovely and had us all singing along at home I’m sure (two words at least, just like the tour!).  Alfie was first on which was great as it meant we didn’t have to watch the whole programme if we didn’t want to, although that would have meant missing a cracking turn from Alfie’s mate Jason Manford in tribute to Les Dawson.  Volare was Alfie’s only song but it was on the whole well received (I’m discounting the audience reaction here as they gave every performer a standing ovation) on social media.  Incidentally, interesting to see Alfie respond to people’s rude tweets; even with provocation he is always polite to trolls.  That doesn’t stop him putting them in their place though!  Again, thanks to Marcia for sharing the clip:

Volare is of course from Alfie’s new album, Serenata (available below) which is in the classical top ten for a sixth straight week!

serenata

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Do you hear the people sing?  The famous lines from the Schonberg / Boublil musical are plastered all over Melbourne, on trams, lamp posts and most importantly on the front of the historic Her Majesty’s Theatre.  This is the first time since the late 1980’s that the musical has been staged in Australia following the resurgence of interest in the piece after Australia’s own Hugh Jackman took on the leading role of Jean ValJean in the Oscar nominated movie.

The movie adaptation has re-fuelled interest around the world and the new staging (first reviewed in Roberta’s review of the Broadway revival) moves the storyline on quite a bit, filling in what can be seen as gaping holes in the original staging’s plot line. Additionally, showing clear comparisons between the movie and stage means that audiences who have only seen the movie will be more familiar with the new staging.  In particular, the opening scenes of the convicts and Fantine’s descent into prostitution bear close resemblance to the film and make it much clearer what is happening; a more direct line to Victor Hugo’s masterpiece can also be seen here. The most noticeable change is the absence of the famous turntable which adds nothing to the barricade scene, rather the emotional impact of the end of the barricade siege is lessened.  However, to counter this, the tunnel projection used in the sewer scenes is excellent.  Musically, extra music strengthens the audience perception of the love that Jean ValJean has for Cosette.  Equally, the relationship of Eponine to the Thenardiers is clearer.

And what of the performances? Spectacular! Simon Gleeson’s Jean ValJean manages to be both robust and vulnerable, particularly in the closing stages where frail old age has overtaken his extraordinary strength.  His performance was a highlight of the show, yet his rendition of the loving and tender Bring Him Home left me cold; others think that the performance is up there with the best of them.  Having said that, sniffles could be heard throughout the theatre in the final stages when JVJ is reunited with Cosette on his deathbed.  Patrice Tipoki is wonderful as Fantine, portraying her piteous descent into poverty with heart wrenching emotion.  Hayden Tee is a fearsome Javert, Kerry-Ann Greenland is a cheeky Eponine and had the best voice of the entire cast and Trevor Astley and Lara Mulcahy did a fantastic job of being horrible to little Cosette.

Overall, this is a fantastic production with some nice new touches to keep the show updated (the candles on stage during Empty Chairs and Empty Tables is an inspired idea). Costumes are brighter and in the Melbourne production, a bright blue, borrowed from Victor Hugo’s own artwork seems to convey the idea that the piece has been freshened for a 2014 audience: no mean feat after a nearly 30 year exposure on the world stage.  Currently running in Melbourne is an exhibition at the State Library of Victoria, From Page to Stage, an exploration of the original novel, movie and stage musical.  Hopefully, this fascinating exhibition will move onto London or New York and if it does, it’s well worth a visit.  Quite apart from the chance to see Hugo’s manuscript, you get the chance to see Alfie Boe’s virtuoso performance in the 25th anniversary concert.

Thank you for reading this and thanks also to my fellow Alfie fan Margie (and her lovely husband Troy, not such a fan!) and two Les Mis fans, Rob and Erin, who are not remotely interested in Alfie – no accounting for taste – and this review is an amalgamation of all our thoughts.  To end, here is a video of the Aussie cast:

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