Friday, February 26, 2010

HSO's Pops Concert Celebrates 100 Years of Broadway

Conductor Tyzik to Return for Next Year's Pops Series
By Lauren Yarger

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Jeff Tyzik (left) treated the Pops audience to a century of Broadway tunes sung by Great White Way stars Chritiance Noll and Doug LaBreque Feb. 27 at the Bushnell.

If you missed it, don't fret. Tyzik, a conductor with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, will be back next season with a brand new Nat King Cole program, the HSO has announced.

A sold-out house enjoyed the delightful Broadway concert, featuring a wide selection of songs performed by Noll, best known for her role in Jekyll & Hyde, and LaBrecque, who has played both the good looking and not-so-good-looking leads in Phantom of the Opera.

The orchestra excelled, playing selections from Phantom, My Fair Lady (in an medley arrangement by Robert Russell Bennett, the original orchestrator for Oklahoma), West Side Story and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Noll (left), dazzling in a number of blue evening dresses, showed off her operatic range in some show tunes from the last part of the 20th century as well as a moving rendition of "Think of Me" from Phantom. (I would have loved to hear all of "In His Eyes" from J&H instead of the small teaser to which we were treated).

LaBrecque (right) showed versatility performing the fun, humorous "It's All for the Best" from Godspell as well as his signature "Music of the Night" from Phantom.

The singers performed some duets, shared some Broadway history and had some fun breaking with tradition in a fun number that had Noll singing songs like "If I Were a Rich Man" and other numbers sung by males while LaBrecque countered with his own repertoire of tunes associated with divas.

Fun accented the concert throughout, with Tyzik ad libbing when a chair fell off the orchestra risers at the start of the second act and again when he stopped the concert explaining he had made an error that just "train wrecked the orchestra" and asking LaBrecque to restart his number.

Colored lighting designed by HSO Technical Director Ken Trestman elegantly accented the concert.

Tyzik's 2011 Pops concert, "A Tribute to Nat King Cole" will be presented Saturday, March 26, 2011 with vocalist Keith David. Other highlights of the 2010-2011 series in Mortensen Hall are "Pops! Goes Vegas" Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010, Steven Reineke, guest conductor; two performances of the "Holiday Pops! Spectacular" Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 with Music Director Edward Cumming directing; "Irish Pops!" featuring Robert White Saturday, March 5, 2011, a "Richard Rodgers Revue" featuring the Hartt School Saturday, May 14, 2011 and "Swing, Swing, Swing!" Saturday, June 11, 2011with guest conductor Victor Vanacore.

In other news, the HSO has announced the continuation of its summer series at Talcott Mountain in Simsbury. The "the Sounds of Summer" will be presented June 25- July 16 under the stars at the Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows thanks to recent funding announced from The Richard P. Garmany Fund and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, among other sponsors.

For more information about upcoming concerts or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.hartfordsymphony.org/.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, Ken Trestman, whose lighting design I comment favorably on is a personal friend, but I do believe I would have said the same thing whether I knew him or not.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rooms Makes Regional Premiere in Norwich

The 2010 theater season “The Future of Musical Theater” continues at The Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich with the regional premiere of the off-Broadway musical Rooms: A Rock Romance with music and lyrics by Paul Scott Goodman, book by Goodman and Miriam Gordon. The production runs March 3-April 4.

The musical is a love story played out against the punk, rock and new music scenes of Glasgow, London and New York in the '70s and '80s. Beginning in the late 1970's in Scotland, Monica a self-proclaimed Glasgow "Scottish Jewish Princess" and a lyricist in search of a composer, meets poor Catholic boy Ian who lives locked in his room with a guitar in one hand and a bottle of scotch in the other. The two quickly become entangled creatively and romantically.

Rooms was performed in 2005 at The New York Musical Theater Festival. It had its world premiere production by MetroStage, Alexandria, VA and Geva Theatre Center, Rochester, NY. Van Hill Entertainment produced it Off-Broadway at New World Stages February through May of 2009. The Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording is available from Time-Life. The production is appropriate for high school students and older. (Language)

Special events connected with the roduction include a high school 2 pm matinee Sunday, March 7, with a 1:30 pm pre-show reception. Seats with valid High School IDs are $20.

On Saturday, March 13, join the cast and production team for a opening night gala, complete with red carpet and special surprises. All seats are $75.

Other events:
PAGE2STAGE MATINEE Sunday, March 14 pre-show conversation before the 2 pm performance

Couple’s Night @ The Spirit, Thursday, March 18. The evening begins at 7:30 with a pre-show wine and cheese reception. Performance at 8pm. All seats are $35. The Spirit of Broadway Theater offers patrons the opportunity for BYOB to all performances! $5 corking fee.

Performances are Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8 and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Adult tickets are $30 and Student and seniors are $25.00. For more information about the production, or to make reservations, contact the SBT Box Office at 860.886.2378 or online at www.spiritofbroadway.org. The theater is located at 24 Chestnut St., Norwich.

Philadelphia Story Opens Ivoryton Season

Classic Romantic Comedy Made Famous by Katharine Hepburn Returns to Her Old Stomping Grounds

The history of the Ivoryton Playhouse is inextricably linked to the career of Katharine Hepburn, who spent the summer of 1931 proving to local audiences that she was leading lady material before heading off to Hollywood and stardom, so it seems a fitting choice for the theater to open its 99th season with Philip Barry’s The Philadelphia Story.

Barry wrote The Philadelphia Story in 1939 specifically for Ms. Hepburn, who ended up backing the play, and foregoing a salary in return for a percentage of the play's profits. Co-starring with Hepburn on Broadway were Joseph Cotten, Van Heflin and Shirley Booth . The play opened in late March 1939 and ran for a full year with more than 400 performances and a nationwide tour. The play was a great success on Broadway, and the subsequent movie with Cary Grant and James Stewart was Hepburn's first great triumph after several movie flops had led to movie theater owners including her on a list of actors viewed as "box office poison." The movie garnered six Academy Award nominations and won two.

The Philadelphia Story is an intelligent, sophisticated, classic romantic comedy (part screwball) of love and marriage, human growth and class distinctions. The setting of the play is among the privileged upper class society in Philadelphia. Haughty divorced socialite Tracy Lord is preparing for her second marriage to a dull, self-made businessman. Enter C.K. Dexter Haven, her dashing first husband, and Macaulay Connor, a cynical tabloid reporter with a distrust of the wealthy. What follows is a rapid-fire war of words as the two men try to help Tracy discover the heart beneath her holier-than-thou exterior.

Ivoryton’s Producing Artistic Director, Jacqueline Hubbard directs the production with Brenda Withers as Tracy , Christian Pederson as Haven, Madison native Matthew DeCapua as Connor and Caroline Strong as Liz Imbrie. The cast also includes Geoffrey Murphy as George, Jennifer Leigh Cohen as Dinah and Thomas Layman as Sandy Lord. The Philadelphia Story marks the return of other Ivoryton favorites, Norm Rutty, Bif Carrington III, Donna Schilke and Don Shirer. Set design is by Tony Andrea, lighting is by Doug Harry, and costumes are by Pam Puente.

The Philadelphia Story opens on March 10-28. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30, Friday and Saturday at 8. Tickets are $38 for adults, $33 for seniors, $20 for students and $15 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting the website at http://www.ivorytonplayhouse.org/ (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton. Pictured, from left, DeCapua, Pedersona and Withers.


MESs Concludes No Boundaries Series at Yale

MESs. Photo by SANADA

NO BOUNDARIES, a series of global performances presented by World Performance Project at Yale and Yale Repertory Theatre, concludes its 2009-10 season with MESs, by Yoko Higashino and Toshio Kajiwara, members of the Japanese multimedia performance group Baby-Q, at the Iseman Theatre, 1156 Chapel St., for three performances only on Thursday, March 25; Friday, March 26; and Saturday, March 27, at 8 pm.

Piercing lasers, flashing LEDs, and a pulsing techno beat illuminate choreographer and performer Higashino’s exploration of gender and transformation in a world of constant loss and confusion. Talk backs with Higashino and Kajiwara follow each performance. Additional related programs, all free and open to the public, also have been scheduled.

Tickets for MESs are $35 and are available online at yalerep.org, by phone (203) 432-1234 and in person at the Yale Rep Box Office, 1120 Chapel St., at York Street. $25 senior tickets are available for all performances. Yale faculty and staff tickets are $25. Discounts are also available for groups of ten or more.
Related programs, free and open to the public:
WORKSHOP
Tuesday, March 23 from 6 to 8 pm
Broadway Loft Studios, 294 Elm St., 3rd Floor Dance Studio.
Audiences are invited to engage in an interactive studio session with featured artist Yoko Higashino. Capacity is limited to 30 and spots will be available first-come, first-served.

BABY-Q AND THE BIO-POLITICS OF JAPANESE CHOREOGRAPHY IN THE WAKE OF BUTOH
Lecture by Reginald Jackson, Associate Professor, University of Chicago
Response by Paige McGinley, Assistant Professor in Theater Studies, Yale University
Wednesday, March 24 from 5:30 to 7 pm
Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall St., Room 208
Baby-Q’s work will be discussed in relation to broader choreographic trends in Japanese dance since the advent of Butoh in the 1960s.
TALK BACKS
Q & A sessions with the artists will be held immediately following all performances.

Yale Joins Theater Designer Event in New York

The graduate theatre design programs at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and Yale School of Drama will present the inaugural DESIGN MEETING at the Pope Auditorium at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, 113 West 60th St., New York, May 29-31.

The event will be coordinated by John Coyne, lecturer in design at Yale School of Drama and director at Theatre Projects Consultants, working with Christopher Barreca, head of scenic cesign at CalArts, Susan Hilferty, chair of design at Tisch, and Stephen Strawbridge, co-chair of design at Yale.

DESIGN MEETING 2010 serves as an introduction of graduating MFA scenic, costume, lighting and sound designers to the professional theatre community through a project gallery and portfolio presentation. The focus of the event will be on the dialogue between professional theatre directors, choreographers and designers in a series of one-on-one conversations. The event will also promote an exchange of ideas among the graduating designers themselves.

The organizers hope to make DESIGN MEETING an annual event. For more information, theater professionals may contact John Coyne at 203-299-0830.

Capitol Steps; Late Nite Catechism; Celebrating Queen, Michael Bolton on Stage at Warner

The Capitol Steps are back again at the Warner Theatre in Torrington. The political satire performing group is direct from Washington DC and features performers from “the hill” and an inside perspective. See the show Saturday, Feb. 27 at 8 pm.

Next week the theater gets a visit from the national tour of Late Nite Catechism, an uproariously funny play has the irrepressible "Sister" teaching a roomful of "students" (the audience) with hilarious results in the Nancy Marine Studio Theatre. Performances are March 3,4,6,7 at 2 pm and March 4,5,6 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $29.50

On March 6, the Bohemian Rhapsody Orchestra celebrates legendary rockers Queen with a two-hour, one-night-only concert at 8 pm.

Backed by a choir of nine singers, Celebrating Queen brings to life the vocal arrangements that the late Freddie Mercury made famous, including the crazy high notes and intricate harmonies, all while being driven by a high-octane rock band. Tickets are $29.50.

Also on tap in March is Grammy Award winner Michael Bolton, Tuesday, March 30 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $45and $55. A VIP $95 ticket includes an artist meet and greet and a show poster.

To purchase tickets, call the Warner box office at 860-489-7180 or buy online at http://www.warnertheatre.org/.

Single Tickets for Westport's 80th Anniversary Season on Sale March 2

Single tickets for Westport Country Playhouse’s 80th anniversary season, including two musicals and a comic drama, playing from April through October, will go on sale Tuesday, March 2 at noon.

Single tickets range from $35 to $55; opening night tickets, including post-performance reception, are $65. Subscriptions to all five plays are available for preferred seating and pricing. Students and educators are eligible for 50-percent discounts. Groups of 10 or more save up to 30 percent. Tickets are available at the Playhouse’s box office, 25 Powers Court, Westport; by phone at 203-227-4177; and online at http://www.westportplayhouse.org/. For group sales information call (203) 227-5137, x120.

The Playhouse’s 2010 lineup will open with the musical comedy She Loves Me, with book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and directed by Mark Lamos, artistic director, playing April 20 through May 8. Next will be Dinner with Friends, a Pulitzer Prize-winning comic drama written by Connecticut resident Donald Margulies and directed by David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director, June 1 through 19.

Happy Days, a play by Samuel Beckett and directed by Lamos, will run July 6 through 24. I Do! I Do!, the Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt musical, will be staged August 10 through 28.

Gerald Freedman is announced to direct the fifth and final play of the season, The Diary of Anne Frank, a timeless and powerful classic by Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett, adapted by Wendy Kesselman, playing Sept. 28 through Oct. 16.

“Gerald Freedman brings a lifetime of accomplishment to his directorial leadership of our production of The Diary of Anne Frank, Lamos said.. “It will be a great opportunity to have Gerald at the Playhouse and at the helm of this important production.”

Freedman’s work with leading writers of the last 50 years, as well as Shakespeare, has been acclaimed on and off-Broadway and in regional theater. He was a seminal part of Joe Papp's legendary Public Theater, where he directed a wide variety of groundbreaking productions, including a legendary Titus Andronicus in Central Park as well as the original production of Hair. His Broadway directing credits include revivals of West Side Story, Arthur Miller’s The Creation of the World and Other Business, The Robber Bridegroom, The Grand Tour and The School for Scandal. Freedman is Dean of Drama at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Friday, February 19, 2010

National Theater Institute Alums Reunite

Alumni of the National Theater Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT are reuniting to share resources and support each other in a New York City based endeavor.

The group plans productions, a theater festival and more including the following goals:
- A complete database of members, accessible to all who want it, and organize using the forum of Facebook and a Google Group.
- A monthly get together for socializing and networking.
- A website where everyone can have a profile, write blogs, post castings, advertise, etc.
- A production in Fall 2010.
- Become a non-profit umbrella organization for the theater companies made up of alums that already exist, (Odyssey Productions, Fine Feathered Friends, Free Agi Productions, Fullstop Collective, Superhero Clubhouse…to name a few), working to promote and support them all.
- Produce an annual theater festival where these companies and/or pairings of NTI playwrights and directors are guaranteed a slot for a production.
- Invite NTI teachers back as both advisors in this endeavor and as colleagues. (Imagine acting, directing, and holding workshops together again!)
- Garner a space in the city that is home for anything and everything people want to do…shows, classes (taking them or teaching them), workshops, lectures, exhibits, rehearsals, parties/fundraisers…etc. We want a place to call our own.

Help is needed on various committees that are forming including:

-Web Design
-Legal
-Alum relations
-Marketing
-Development /Fundraising / Grant Writing
-Real Estate
-Loan / Purchasing research
-Public Relations
-Artistic Committee / Season Deciders
-Education / Community outreach
- Contract / Union negotiation
-Not For Profit status
-Tech Committee
-Notable alum courting committee

For more information on how to become involved, email Rifractheatercollective@gmail.com.

Master of Two Servants Plays at Yale

Yale Repertory Theatre presents The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni, adapted by Constance Congdon from a translation by Christina Sibul at the University Theatre, 222 York Street, March 12-April 3. Opening Night is Thursday, March 18.

The cast includes Sarah Agnew (Beatrice), Will Cobbs (Waiter), Liam Craig (Brighella/Porter), John Treacy Egan (Il Dottore), Steven Epp (Truffaldino), Allen Gilmore (Pantalone), Andy Grotelueschen (Silvio), Chris Henry (Waiter), Jesse J. Perez (Florindo), Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Clarice)and Liz Wisan (Smeraldina).

The Servant of Two Masters features original musical by Chris Curtis and Aaron Halva, sets by Katherine Akiko Day, costumes by Valérie Thérèse Bart, lighting by Chuan-Chi Chan, and sound by Nathan Roberts. Emmy Miller and Hannah Rae Montgomery are the production dramaturgs; Rick Sordelet is the fight director; Beth McGuire is the vocal and dialect coach; and Bree Sherry is the stage manager.

About the show:
Identities are mistaken, engagements are broken, and lovers are reunited when the wily and chronically hungry servant Truffaldino hatches a zany scheme to double his wages (and his meals) by serving two masters at once. The physical comedy and mayhem is directed by Christopher Bayes, whose hilarious choreography is featured in the hit Broadway, and soon-to-be Off-Broadway stage production of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps.

Tickets for The Servant of Two Masters range from $35-82 and are available online at www.yalerep.org, by phone at 203-432-1234 and in person at the Yale Rep Box Office, 1120 Chapel St, at York Street. New Haven. Student, senior, and group rates are also available.

In addition, all tickets for the Monday, March 15 performance are $10.

Please note: The Servant of Two Masters is Yale Rep’s 2009-10 WILL POWER! production. The run includes three 10:30 am performances available only to middle and high school student groups. For information on WILL POWER! performances, please contact Ruth M. Feldman at (203) 432-8425 or rm.feldman@yale.edu.

The schedule (performances are at 8pm unless otherwise specified):
Friday, March 12
Saturday, March 13
Monday, March 15
Tuesday, March 16
Wednesday, March 17
Thursday, March 18 -- Opening Night
Friday, March 19
Saturday, March 20 2 pm -- Talk Back
Saturday, March 20
Tuesday, March 23
Wednesday, March 24 2 pm -- Senior Reception begins at 1
Wednesday, March 24
Thursday, March 25 -- Talk Back
Friday, March 26
Saturday, March 27 2 pm -- Open Captioning, Talk Back
Saturday, March 27 --Grad Night reception begins at 7
Monday, March 29 10:30 am WILL POWER!
Tuesday, March 30 10:30 am WILL POWER!
Wednesday, March 31 10:30 am WILL POWER!
Wednesday, March 31
Thursday, April 1
Friday, April 2
Saturday, April 2 2 pm -- Audio Description
Saturday, April 2

Beauty & the Beast, Smothers Brothers & More Next Month at Palace

Beauty & the Beast. Photo credit for this
and Smothers Brothers photos: C. 1999 Jonathan Exley

Spring into fun with one of the Palace Theater’s upcoming March presentations.

Friday, March 12 – 8 pm
Saturday, March 13 – 2 pm & 8 pm
Sunday, March 14 – 1 pm & 6:30 pm

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature film, this classic musical love story is filled with unforgettable characters, lavish costumes, and dazzling production numbers including “Be Our Guest” and the beloved title song. Sponsored by Webster Bank, WTNH/MyTV9, and Brass Mill Center.Tickets are $66/ $51/ $41

Wednesday, March 17 – 7:30 pm
The Smothers Brothers
With their singular blend of comedic and musical talents, the irrepressible Smothers Brothers have made a sweeping impact on diverse generations of fans. Such lasting power is a testimonial to their intuitive humor, natural warmth, and superlative showmanship. Sponsored by Naugatuck Savings Bank, WDRC 102.9 FM, and WTNH/MyTV9.
Tickets are $55/ $45/ $35

Saturday, March 20 – 8 pm
Waterbury Symphony Orchestra presents Dance! Community Pops Concert
From the elegance of ballroom to the rhythm of Irish step, with the passion of salsa and the grace of ballet, this community celebration of music’s power to inspire movement will feature a variety of ensembles and special guests.
Tickets are $75/ $50/ $35/ $20

Saturday, March 27 – 8 pm
Women In Comedy Starring Loretta LaRoche & Friends
Women In Comedy offers audiences an evening of laughter and entertainment with acclaimed author, humorist, and Emmy-nominated PBS star Loretta LaRoche and few of her funniest female friends! LaRoche is an international stress management and humor consultant, whose wit, and irreverent humor, has raised the humor potential in all of us for more than 30 years.
Tickets are $41/ $31

Tickets and gift certificates can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at http://www.palacetheaterct.org/, or in person at the Palace Box Office, 100 East Main St., Waterbury. Groups of 20 or more qualify for discounted rates and should call the group sales hotline at 203-345-2002.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Charlotte's Web Plays at Westport

Westport Country Playhouse’s Family Festivities Series will present the treasured tale “Charlotte’s Web,” based on E. B. White’s loving story of the friendship between a pig named Wilbur and a little gray spider named Charlotte, on Sunday, Feb. 28, at 1 and 4 pm.

Recommended for grades K - 5, the show is approximately one hour and produced by TheatreworksUSA.

Wilbur has a problem: how to avoid winding up as pork chops! Charlotte, a fine writer and true friend, hits on a plan to fool Farmer Zuckerman. She will create a “miracle.” Spinning the words “Some Pig” in her web, Charlotte weaves a solution which not only makes Wilbur a prize pig, but ensures his place on the farm forever. Featuring mad-cap and endearing farm animals, “Charlotte’s Web” explores bravery, selfless love and the true meaning of friendship.

Pre-show activities, for which reservations are required, begin one hour before the performances at noon and 3 pm. Pre-show activities for “Charlotte’s Web” will be an exploration of animal personalities and sounds, interactive games and friendship.

Tickets for “Charlotte’s Web” are $16. Birthday party facilities may be scheduled in advance. Everyone in the audience requires a ticket. For tickets or to receive a Family Festivities brochure, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit the box office at 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport, or visit http://www.westportplayhouse.org/. Groups of 10 or more save up to 30 percent off the regular ticket price. For group sales information call (203) 227-5137, x120.

Upcoming titles in the Playhouse’s 2010 Family Festivities Series include “Are You My Mother?” on Sunday, March 28; and “I Have a Dream: The Life and Times of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” on Sunday, April 11.

Goodspeed to Honor Paul Williams

Paul Williams in rehearsal at Goodspeed.
Photo by Diane Sobolewski.

Goodspeed Musicals will honor composer/lyricist Paul Williams at a gala Saturday, June 12 when he will receive The Goodspeed Award for Outstanding Contribution to Musical Theatre in recognition of his extraordinary career.

His contribution to musical theatre includes penning the music and lyrics for Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter, which had its world premiere at the Goodspeed in 2008, and Garry Marshall’s Happy Days: A New Musical, which was developed at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre followed by a full scale production at the Goodspeed Opera House. Happy Days went on to play at the Paper Mill Playhouse and a successful National Tour.

Paul is recognized as one of America’s most prolific and gifted lyricists and composers. “Evergreen,” “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Rainy Days and Mondays” and “The Rainbow Connection” are among his timeless standards.

Previous award recipients include Julie Andrews, Ira Gershwin, Jerry Herman, William Ivey Long, Michael P. Price, Stephen Schwartz, Tommy Tune, Susan Stroman and Gerald Schoenfeld. Proceeds from the gala will support Goodspeed Musicals’ Education Programs.
Individual tickets start at $500, while tables of ten can be purchased for $5,000 and up. For Gala ticket information, please telephone Caitlin Quinn at 860.873.8664, extension 367.

The Co-Chairs for this Gala event will be writer/director/producer Garry Marshall and his wife Barbara; Academy Award-winning puppeteer, director/producer Brian Henson; Tony Award nominee and Oscar, Grammy Award-winning composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz; and Steve Sauer. The evening’s festivities at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in Haddam, CT will include a cocktail hour and a dinner followed by a live auction led by celebrity auctioneer and longtime Goodspeed supporter Ann Nyberg and entertainment by some of Broadway’s finest performers.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Masterpieces Reunited by HSO at Wadsworth

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra will present “Reunited Masterpieces,” the second concert of the 2009-2010 Sunday Serenades Chamber Music series, on Feb. 21 at 2 pm in Morgan Great Hall at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum, 600 Main St., Hartford.

This program is inspired by the Wadsworth’s latest exhibition, “Reunited Masterpieces: From Adam and Eve to George and Martha,” and will feature performances of works by Handel, Bach, and Eisler. Sunday Serenades Artistic Director and HSO Concertmaster (principal violinist) Leonid Sigal will join HSO violist Patricia Daly Vance and HSO cellist Peter Zay for this intimate chamber program.

The Wadsworth Athenuem’s “Reunited Masterpieces: From Adam and Eve to George and Martha” exhibition provides a rare opportunity to see several notable paintings in the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum reunited with their original pendant or mate. Loans have been sent from museums in Europe, Canada, and America so that visitors in Hartford can have a brief period in which to view and appreciate the works the way the artists originally intended, as contrasting or complimentary pairs. In addition, several other reunited pairs already in the museum’s collection will be featured. The works range from the Renaissance era to the eighteenth century and include religious and mythological subjects, portraits, and genres.

Inspired by the theme of this exhibit, chamber players from the HSO will perform three Baroque standards in a new context. The first is a modern take on Bach's signature style by early 20th Century composer and anti-Nazi activist Hanns Eisler. Sigal and Zay will play George Frederic Handel’s "Passacaglia for keyboard" as arranged for violin and cello by the Romantic Norwegian composer Johan Halvorsen. The second half of the program will feature one of the quintessential examples of the Baroque style – Bach’s Goldberg Variations – in a new, highly acclaimed arrangement for violin, viola, and cello by prominent conductor and violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky.

Ticket Prices: Single tickets to this performance are $30; $25 for Atheneum Members or HSO Subscribers. Ticket price includes general admission to the Wadsworth Atheneum on the days of the concerts.

Tickets are available in person Monday through Friday between 10 am and 5 pm at Hartford Symphony Orchestra Ticket Services, 99 Pratt St., Suite 50, Hartford, by calling (860) 244-2999, or online at http://www.hartfordsymphony.org/.

Agatha Christie Play Launches 'Script in Hand' Series at Westport Country Playhouse

The Agatha Christie classic murder mystery “And Then There Were None,” will be read by Westport Country Playhouse actor alumni and audience favorites Geneva Carr, Keir Dullea, Beth Fowler, Charlotte Moore, Ciarán O’Reilly, Joe Paulik, Jay O. Sanders, Mark Shanahan, Mark Silence, Doug Stender and Paxton Whitehead as the playhouse's Script in Hand Series launches Feb. 22.

The event will be held at 7 pm at the playhouse, 25 Powers Court. Tickets to the one-night-only event are $15.

Directed by artistic advisor Anne Keefe, the reading is the first in “The Script in Hand Series” that will bring together professional actors to read works by master playwrights. The new playreading series is a continuation of the highly successful “Funny Mondays” and “The Classical Series,” produced by the playhouse from 2005 through 2008.

“I’m thrilled to be asked to put the reading series back on the Playhouse stage,” said Ms. Keefe, who coordinates the series. “I had so much fun organizing them in the past it just seemed like a great time to bring back a program that had been so popular.”

In “And Then There Were None,” 10 people, who have previously been involved in the deaths of others but have escaped attention or punishment, are tricked into coming to an island where they are all mysteriously murdered one by one, in a manner paralleling the old nursery rhyme, “Ten Little Indians.”

The series is supported, in part, by the White Barn Program of the Lucille Lortel Foundation and the Newman’s Own Foundation. For more information or ticket purchases, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.westportplayhouse.org/.

Uncle Tom's Cabin is March Book Group Discussion

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and The Mark Twain House & Museum are partnering on a 21st-century book club to consider all things Twain, Stowe and the topics that had Nook Farm buzzing during the Victorian Era that still captivate us today – politics, social issues, humor, adventure, romance, literature and more.

This exciting “First Thursday” series continues March 4. Refreshments will be offered starting at 5 pm; the facilitated discussion will begin at 5:30 and end at 6:30. The museums will alternate hosting the Book Club. Admission is free, thanks to a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council, and free parking is available at each of the museums.

Here's the schedule:
Thursday, March 4, 2010
"Uncle Tom’s Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Meet at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Visitor Center

Thursday, April 1, 2010
"Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America" by Jay Parini
Meet at The Mark Twain Museum Center

Thursday, May 6, 2010
"Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective" by Mark Twain
Meet at The Mark Twain Museum Center

Thursday, June 3, 2010
"Stowe in Her Own Time" by Susan Belasco
Meet at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Visitor Center

Thursday, July 1, 2010
"A Summer of Hummingbirds: Love, Art, and Scandal in the Intersecting Worlds of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Martin Johnson Heade" by Christopher Benfey
Meet at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Visitor Center

Future titles will be announced.

Registration for individual or all sessions is strongly recommended, by contacting Kate Rounds at 860.522.9258 x 317 or krounds@StoweCenter.org.

Gregory Boyko Named President of Mark Twain House & Museum

Gregory Boyko has been named president of the Mark Twain House & Museum Board of Trustees.

the retired chairman and CEO of The Hartford Financial Services Group’s international arm, Hartford Life International Ltd., Boyko serves as a senior advisor to Evolution Benefits, one of the leading providers of health care savings account administration.

At The Hartford, Boyko drove The Hartford’s successful entry into the Japanese, Brazilian, and European Union markets. He served as president and CEO of HLIKK, the Japanese subsidiary of The Hartford, and is an Honorary Consul General for Japan.

He is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and UConn's School of Law. Boyko succeeds Dede DeRosa.

Deadline for Memoir Writing Course at Twain is Today

Today is the deadline to sign up for “Writing at the Mark Twain House,” an eight-week memoir course taught by distinguished authors Lary Bloom and Suzanne Levine.

The course, to be held in the classroom in the Museum Center, will run on Wednesday evenings in March and April. The course will explore aspects of the memoir craft as scene-setting, dialogue, character development and narrative. A memoir project will be part of the program. Accomplished memoirists including Wally Lamb, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Cindy Brown Austin will participate in individual sessions.

Lary Bloom needs little introduction to Connecticut readers: As the editor of the Hartford Courant’s Northeast magazine for twenty years he nurtured new talents such as Wally Lamb, David Hays and Cindy Brown Austin. He is a contributing writer at Connecticut Magazine, where his work has won two national awards, and has written a regular column in The New York Times. He is author of the classic text "The Writer Within," a book used in the course, and, most recently, collaborated with former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge on his controversial memoir "The Test of Our Times." He also wrote, with Senator Christopher J. Dodd, "Letters from Nuremberg," and is on the faculty of Fairfield University's MFA writing program.

Suzanne Levine, a poet with finely developed skills in prose as well, is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection, "Haberdasher’s Daughter" (Antrim House). She has published in the journals Interpoezia, Permafrost, Artemis, California Quarterly, Helicon Nine, Passages North, Quiddity Literary Journal, The Trinity Review, Tendril, The Bellingham Review, Forty Fathers, Southern California Review and Calliope. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times.

There is a fee of $600 for the eight-week course. To participate, a serious interest in the memoir form is the only requirement; beginners are welcome. To register, please send a brief letter or email of interest to Steve Courtney at steve.courtney@marktwainhouse.com.

Long Wharf Partners with Animal Shelter

In conjunction with Long Wharf Theatre’s production of Sylvia, a comic tale of a man, his wife and the lovable dog that comes between them, the theatre is hosting a ‘Find-A-Friend For Life’ event with the Robin I. Kroogman New Haven Animal Shelter.

The event will take place Saturday, March 6 from 1 to 4 pm. Meet adoptable dogs of all sizes and breeds and talk with animal shelter staff and volunteers to explore the logistics of the pet adoption process.

“Long Wharf Theatre is always looking for interesting, fun ways to engage and give a little something back to the community," said Steve Scarpa, Long Wharf Theatre director of marketing and communications. "We thought that having an event here allowing people to meet all kinds of great dogs would be just that kind of opportunity.

The Robin I. Kroogman New Haven Animal Shelter is one of the largest animal municipal shelters in the state of Connecticut, with more than 60 dog runs, attracting more than 3,200 visitors annually. The shelter takes in about 2,000 dogs and cats each year. Through its partnership with the Humane Commission, Friends of the New Haven Animal Shelter and the North Shore Animal League, the shelter has sponsored several adoption events throughout the year, leading to an adoption/reclaim rate of 75 percent, or roughly 1,500 dogs and cats.

In addition, throughout the run of Sylvia, playing on the Mainstage from Feb. 17 through March 14, Long Wharf Theatre will be accepting donations on behalf of the shelter of dog food, dog treats, leashes and bleach. The donations can be dropped off in the Mainstage lobby from 10 am to 6 pm or on the nights of performances.

For more information about the event, the upcoming production of Sylvia or to buy tickets, visit www.longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282. For more information about the Animal Shelter’s mission and procedures, visit www.cityofnewhaven.com/AnimalShelter/index.asp or call 203-946-8110. To learn more about the shelter’s volunteer organization, visit www.findafriendforlife.org.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mark Twain House Closed on Feb. 10

Mark Twain House will be closed tomorrow. Wednesday, Feb. 10 due to the weather.

HSO Presents Century of Broadway with Christiane Noll, Doug LaBrecque

Broadway stars Christiane Noll (pictured left) and Doug LaBrecque (below, right) will sing through a hundred years of the “Great White Way’s” history with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor and arranger Jeff Tyzik 8 pm Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Bushnell, Hartford

Noll and LaBrecque will perform showstoppers including songs from Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd, Jesus Christ Superstar, Chicago, Godspell, West Side Story, Showboat, and My Fair Lady.

Noll, who recently starred as Mother in the revival of Ragtime, made her Broadway debut starring as Emma in Jekyll & Hyde. Doug LaBrecque, best known for his leading roles in Phantom of the Opera, also starred in the Hal Prince revival of Showboat.

Tyzik is principal pops conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, where he has served for 15 consecutive seasons, and the Oregon and Vancouver symphony orchestras.

Tickets are $32.50 - $62.50; $12.50 with a student ID and may be purchased weekdays between 10 am and 5 pm at Hartford Symphony Orchestra Ticket Services, 99 Pratt St., Suite 500, Hartford, by calling (860) 244-2999, or online at http://www.hartfordsymphony.org/.

Lion King Performances Won't Be Affected by Weather

All performances of Disney's The Lion King at The Bushnell will go on as scheduled despite snow in the forecast.

The show has a strict 10-minute late seating hold once the performance begins. In order to avoid missing any portion of the show, allow additional time for traffic and arrive at The Bushnell no later than 15 minutes prior to the performance start time printed on your tickets.

The Lion King runs through Sunday, Feb. 14. For information about tickets, visit www.bushnell.org.

See a feature on the production here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mandy Patinkin, Compulsion at Yale

Mandy Patinkin and Stephen Barker Turner in the world premiere of COMPULSION by Rinne Groff, directed by Oskar Eustis through Feb. 28 at Yale Repetory Theater. Photo by Joan Marcus. Read the review here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Auditions Set for Geppetto & Son at Hartford Children's Theatre

Hartford Children's Theatre will conduct auditions for Disney's Geppetto & Son, the final production of its 2009-2010 20th anniversary season.

The production will be directed by HCT’s Artistic Director Ryan Ratelle
and Associate Director Summar Elguindy with musical direction by Louise
Fauteux and choreography by Caitlin Sailer. Performances will take place at Hoffman Auditorium, Saint Joseph College,West Hartford April 30 through May 9.

Geppetto & Son is the classic tale of an aging toymaker named Geppetto and his son Pinocchio’s journey from an awkward wooden puppet to a real, live boy. The Blue Fairy, Stromboli and a lively cast of characters take Geppetto beyond the toy shop to help him discover what makes a “perfect child.”

This family-friendly musical features the original songs “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “I’ve Got No Strings” as well as new material by Stephen Schwartz.

Roles are available for adults and children age 8 and over. Audition sides are available online at http://www.hartfordchildrenstheatre.org/ . Performers should come prepared to sing 16 measures of an appropriate song of their choosing and provide sheet music for the accompanist. A short dance combination will also be required.

Auditions will be held at HCT’s Carriage House Theatre,360 Farmington Ave., Hartford:
Thursday, Feb. 11 and Saturday, Feb. 13
6 to 7:30 pm children ages 8 – 17
7:30 to 9 pm adults ages 18 and up

Callbacks will be held by invitation on Monday, Feb. 15 at 6 pm. All performers interested in auditioning should contact HTC at 860-249-7970 to schedule an appointment. For additional information, visit www.hartfordchildrenstheatre.org for more information.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Good Advice: Enjoy 'Lady with all the Answers'

Charlotte Booker, at left, as Ann Landers. Photo by Lanny Nagler.

Ann Landers Doles Out Advice at TheaterWorks
Charlotte Booker gives a delightful performance as the square-but-hip advice columnist Ann Landers in TheaterWorks’ presentation of The Lady with all the Answers playing through March 7.

David Rambo’s play, directed by Artistic Director Steve Campo, has Ann (a.k.a. Esther Pauline Lederer) dispensing advice to her readers and the audience on everything from etiquette to sex to which way the bathroom tissue paper should roll while struggling to write the most difficult column of her career. The script is full of humor as well as a lot of interesting biographical information about Ann and her friendly competition with twin sister Dear Abby.

Adrian W. Jones designs the living room set and Kenneth Mooney designs the costumes. Lighting is by Mary Jo Dondlinger and sound is by Mike Lastella.

Performances are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 7:30 pm; Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; Weekend matinees at 2:30. Seats are $39 for weeknights and matinees; $49 for Friday and Saturday evenings. Seating is general admission. Center reserved seats are $12 extra. College-age student rush $12 at show time with valid ID (subject to availability). Special discounts are available for groups of 12 or more. The theater is located City Arts on Pearl, 233 Pearl St., Hartford. The play is recommended for age 14 and up.

For more information, call 527-7838, visit the box office at City Arts on Pearl, 233 Pearl St. Hartford, or http://www.theaterworkshartford.org/

--Lauren Yarger

For more information on what's happening this month at Connecticut's professional theaters, visit the Connecticut page at Curtain up at http://curtainup.com/ctnewandnoteworthy.html

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mark Twain Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Author's Death

“I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835,” Mark Twain wrote in 1909. “It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’”

And with this uncanny prediction, Samuel L. Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, indeed died in the year of that rare occurrence on April 21, 1910. One hundred years later, The Mark Twain House & Museum and The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., will recognize Twain’s role as one of our nation’s foremost literary icons, his incredible legacy as a witty and insightful social commentator, and his ongoing influence on American culture with a 2010 Centennial Celebration of unique events throughout the year. Twain wrote such American classics as "Adventures of Huck Finn," "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," 'The Prince and the Pauper,' and 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,' among others, while living in Hartford.

The nearly 30 other events include an Adventures of Huckleberry Finn anniversary musical celebration (Feb. 18); the world premiere of a a new adaptation of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" at Hartford Stage (April 1); participation in The Big Read, a collaboration with the Hartford Public Library (April though June); a Clemens Lecture by author Wally Lamb (April 7), a Victorian séance with a special cake created by Charm City Bakery (as seen on Food Networks’s Ace of Cakes) (April 21); a Tom Sawyer Day at the museum (June 12) and much more.

Visit the Mark Twain House & Museum website, http://www.marktwainhouse.org/, for updates. Unless otherwise specified, call 860-280-3130 for tickets.

Here's what is happening this month:

The House That Mark Built: The Architecture of The Mark Twain House
The Mark Twain House & Museum
Through March 22

Learn more about the Gothic home where Twain wrote some of his most famous works, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The exhibition offers a look at Mark Twain’s home’s bricks, mortars and gadgetry – and even provides a place for kids to try their hand at some building of their own. Visitors will get a chance to see some of the original building materials used by the builders, including the elaborate exterior wood carvings, slate from the roof, and samples of the brick.

The exhibition is sponsored by United Technologies Corp. The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation is the sponsor of the museum’s 2010 exhibitions. The Hartford is the Museum’s Centennial Sponsor. Open during regular museum hours. Exhibit included with admission.

Inaugural Meeting of The Nook Farm Book Club
Thursday, Feb. 4
5 to 6:30 pm
The Mark Twain House & Museum

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and The Mark Twain House & Museum are partnering on a book club to consider all things Twain and Stowe and the topics that had the Nook Farm neighborhood buzzing during their era: politics, social issues, humor, adventure, romance and literature. Meetings will be held the first Thursday of each month. The inaugural book selection is Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Supported in part by a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council.

Legacy
Saturday, Feb. 13
Exhibition Opening at The Mark Twain House & Museum
through January 2011

Legacy will examine the enduring and evolving legacy of Mark Twain and his work. It will explore how Twain’s persona, and the public’s perception of him and his works, has both changed and remained constant over the years. Visitors will be encouraged to record their own thoughts about Mark Twain and his current relevance in guest books that will become part of the museum’s archives. Sponsored by The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation and the George A. & Grace L. Long Foundation, Bank of America and Mr. Alan Parker, Co-Trustees.
Open during regular museum hours. Exhibit included with admission

Long Distance Romance: The Love Lettersof Sam and Olivia Clemens
Saturday, Feb. 13
7:30 pm.
The Mark Twain House & Museum

Twain and his bride, Livy, had a lifelong love affair, raised several children, and even worked together editing his famous novels. Hear their passionate story through their love letters as interpreted by longtime Mark Twain portrayer John Pogson and actress Lisa Steier. The event will include a champagne and chocolate reception. Tickets are $35 ($30 for members) and can be purchased by phone at 860-280-3130.

125th Anniversary Celebration of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Featuring The Ebony Hillbillies
Thursday, February 18
7:30 pm.
The Mark Twain House & Museum

Millions of children have read it for the adventures, millions of adults have read it for the laugh-out-loud humor and critical social commentary about an important time in race relations. Celebrate the 125th anniversary of "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" with an evening of music featuring The Ebony Hillbillies, one of America’s premier all-black string bands. The HartBeat Ensemble, a local theater troupe, will perform passages from the book.
Tickets are $32 ($27 for members) and can be purchased by calling 860-280-3130.

Free Hartford Day
Saturday, Feb. 20
9:30 am to 5:30 pm.
The Mark Twain House & Museum

In honor of the author’s deep affection for Hartford, and as part of The Mark Twain House & Museum’s 2010 Centennial Celebration, residents of the city have a rare chance to visit at no charge the house where the great author lived. Free Hartford Day is made possible through the generosity of the museum’s Centennial Sponsor, The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. The Hartford, which is celebrating is Bicentennial this year, is making the gesture as a gift to the people of Hartford.

HSO Receives Funding for Talcott Mountain Series; Names New Education Programs Conductor

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra has received new support from the Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to help produce the Talcott Mountain Music Festival, the HSO’s annual summer music festival at the Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows.

In other news, Matthew Aubin has been appoined the orchestra'snew education programs conductor. He is the Conductor of the Hartt Symphony Band, Associate Conductor of the Hartt Contemporary Players Ensemble, and an Adjunct Professor of Conducting and Music Education at the Hartt School of the University of Hartford. Prior to his appointment at the Hartt School, Aubin was the director of instrumental music at the Norwich Free Academy.

The HSO “Symphony in the Schools” Chamber Orchestra program presents a thrilling concert structured around this year’s theme, “Music Tells a Story.” Through fascinating excerpts and captivating dialogue, this program not only encourages students to study an instrument, but aids in fostering a lifetime appreciation for great music. More than 1,500 children grades 2-12 from 14 schools around the state will experience these programs at their local school auditoriums and gymnasiums.

For more information on the “Symphony in the Schools” program or other HSO educational programs, please contact Emery Tapley, Director of Education, at etapley@hartfordsymphony.org or (860) 246-8742 x. 308.

Itzhak Perlman to Perform at Palace Theater in April

Itzhak Perlman will perform in a special concert event at Waterbury's Palace Theater this April in a program presented by the Congregation of Kol Ami of Cheshire and sponsored by the Jewish Foundation of Greater New Haven and Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven.

The performance Sunday, April 18 at 4 pm will serve as a fundraising event for the synagogue's Hebrew school and to nurture and incorporate Jewish values and traditions into the everyday lives of its community’s families through educational opportunities, innovative worships and enlivening communal experiences.

An Israeli-American violin virtuoso, conductor and master-instructor, Perlman enjoys a superstar status rarely afforded to a classical musician. Beloved for his charm and humanity as well as his talent, he is treasured by audiences throughout the world who respond not only to his remarkable artistry, but also to the irrepressible joy of making music that he communicates. A four-time Emmy Award and 15-time Grammy Award winner, Perlman recently performed at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, premiering a piece written for the occasion by composer John Williams, with whom he collaborated on the original score to Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award-winning film "Schindler’s List."

During his Palace Theater performance, Perlman will be accompanied on piano by critically acclaimed Rohan De Silva, who performed with Perlman on the "Live from Lincoln Center" broadcast in January 2000. De Silva is a faculty member at the Perlman Music Program on Long Island, The Juilliard School and the Ishikawa Music Academy in Japan.

Tickets for Itzhak Perlman are $125, $75, $65, and $55, and can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at http://www.palacetheaterct.org/, or in person at the Palace Theater Box Office, 100 East Main St., Waterbury.

The Singular Sensation Visits the Palace

The all-new national touring production of Broadway’s singularly sensational Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical A Chorus Line comes to the Palace Theater in Waterbury for a limited four-show engagement, Feb. 26-28, as part of the Webster Broadway Series.

The musical for everyone who’s ever had a dream and put it all on the line, A Chorus Line sets the scene on a bare stage as casting for a new Broadway musical is almost complete. For 17 dancers, this audition is the chance of a lifetime. It's the one opportunity to do what they've always dreamed -- to have the chance to dance. Winner of nine Tony Awards®, including Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for drama, this singular sensation is the longest-running American Broadway musical ever, featuring such classic standards as, “What I Did For Love” and the ever popular, “One.”

Tickets for are $59, $54, and $49, and can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at http://www.palacetheaterct.org/, or in person at the Palace Theater Box Office, 100 East Main St., Waterbury. Groups of 20 or more qualify for special discounts and should call the Group Sales Hotline at 203-346-2002.
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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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