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billyelliotA schoolgirl from Gad’s Hill School, Higham has got her first taste of stardom after landing a role in a hit an internationally award-winning West End musical.

Thirteen year-old Zara Gilhooly started performing in smash-hit Billy Elliot the Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre this month as a ballet girl, alongside the central character of Billy in Mrs Wilkinson’s ballet class. Mrs Wilkinson’s ballet girls feature throughout the show as the children’s ensemble, accompanying Billy on his dancing journey.

Zara, from Meopham, said she was “absolutely loving every minute” of the experience.

The talent dancer has been performing from the age of three, joining her current dance school, the Robyn Academy, Gravensend at the age of 10, winning a number of competitions including the prestigious ‘Most Promising Dancer’ trophy at the Beckenham amateur dance festival.

“It was so nerve-wracking waiting to hear if I had got the part,” Zara said.

“I really love dancing and performing and this is just such a good opportunity – I’ve never before performed in the West End and I’d love to make it my career when I leave school.”

When asked what her school friends thought of Zara’s star turn she said: “They think it’s cool and I hope a lot come to see me in it.”

Zara’s Headmaster, Mr David Craggs said: “If Zara doesn’t land a performing arts career, I would be very surprised. It is obvious that Zara has talent. We’re all really proud of her for winning the part in a top London musical. The future looks very bright for Zara.”

Based on the Oscar nominated film, Billy Elliot the Musical is an inspirational story of one boy’s dream to realise his ambitions against the odds. Set in the North East of England against the background of the historic 1984/85 miners’ strike, Billy pursues his passion for dance in secret to avoid disapproval of his struggling family.

Multi award-winning Billy Elliot the Musical had its world premiere at the Victoria Palace Theatre on 31 March 2005 and has now been seen by over 9.5 million people worldwide.

Billy Elliot the Musical features music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, is directed by Stephen Daldry with choreography by Peter Darling. The production features scenic design by Ian MacNeil, the associate director is Julian Webber, costume design is by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Rick Fisher and sound design by Paul Arditti. Musical supervision and orchestrations are by Martin Koch.

LISTINGS INFORMATION BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL

Booking until: Currently booking until 16 May 2015
Theatre: Victoria Palace Theatre, Victoria Street, London, SW1E 5EA
Box Office: 0844 248 5000
Tickets: £20.70 – £68.70 (to include a £1.20 theatre restoration levy)
Performances: Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm
Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm
Website: www.billyelliotthemusical.com

alice

The Easter holiday Pantomime, Alice in Wonderland, is at The Woodville starring the legendary Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee as well as Steve Hewlett, the ventriloquist who shot to fame with his puppet versions of Sinita and Simon Cowell on ITV1′s Britain’s Got Talent.

Alice in wonderland is a great Easter treat with a live band, comedy, mind blowing magic and a west end calibre cast, including Ant Payne and Robert Pearce.

The pantomime show dates are Friday 4 April, Saturday 5 April and Sunday 6 April.

There is also more family fun at The Woodville with the Old MacDonald Had A Farm show. This fun filled farmyard tale with action, puppetry and animation brings to life all the best loved characters from the original nursery rhyme along with a medley of games, giggles and singalong songs. Show dates are Friday 28 March and Saturday 29 March.

For more information and to book tickets go to http://www.woodville.co.uk or cdll box offices on 01464 337774

Burlesque63Red
Flushed with success, now entering its fourth fabulous year, the world’s original touring burlesque spectacular is about to hit town.

Officially Britain’s biggest burlesque extravaganza – a quarter of a million people have now seen this show – An Evening of Burlesque is responsible for exposing the cream of the West End of London’s thriving burlesque scene to the world. Not only has the ever-so-cheeky production revealed the secrets of the art of burlesque to delighted audiences across the UK, it has also thrilled theatregoers at the swishest venues throughout Europe as well.
From Milan to Zurich, St Petersburg to Minsk, Leipzig to Verona, Dresden to Riga, Padova to Dessau the reaction has been the same – absolutely incredible, says show producer Michael Taylor.

“Nothing is lost in translation,” says Michael. “An Evening of Burlesque’s content – sparkling glamour, physical humour and a dynamic score – are appreciated in any language.”
An Evening of Burlesque features corsets, killer heels and stockings aplenty – and that’s just the theatregoers who come to see the show!

“For a spectacle that sparkles from its elaborately-decorated headdresses to its immaculately varnished toes,” says Michael, “it might not come as a complete surprise that audiences are predominantly female. Also, we’re pleased to report that, with a prize for the best-dressed member of the audience, theatregoers revel in dressing up for the occasion.”
The show itself sparkles with couture costumes recalling the golden eras of burlesque. An Evening of Burlesque claims to be the most glamorous show on tour.

For over-18s only, it boasts that its success is built on a combination of sultry vocals, breathtaking choreography, mischief, magic, frivolity and fun.

“It’s all tease, no sleaze,” says Michael. “The show combines musical and theatrical parody, cutting-edge variety, magic, comedy and dance with the art of striptease.”

Michael says he is proud to be bringing variety back to the theatre, claiming An Evening of Burlesque is the slickest, wickedly wittiest, most delightfully choreographed cabaret spectacular of the year.

“Dress up and come to the cabaret,” he says.

DRESS TO IMPRESS – PRIZE FOR THE MOST GLAMOROUS MEMBER OF THE AUDIENCE

Sparkling with couture costumes, featuring killer heels and stockings aplenty. . . no, we’re not talking about the burlesque all-star performers appearing in Britain’s hottest new theatre show sensation An Evening of Burlesque.

That’s a description of audiences for the glamorous production. Its combination of song, dance, mischief, magic, music, frivolity and fun has proved an unqualified hit with the ladies.

“Throughout the UK,” says show producer Michael Taylor, “at every venue, the fairer sex make up the majority of our audiences. “And the ladies just love dressing for the occasion.”

So much so, the production now offers a “burlesque-tastic” surprise prize for the best-dressed member of the audience on the night. The prize will be awarded by the show’s production manager, their decision being final.

“The show is an opportunity,” says Mike, “to forget about all your troubles for an evening and enjoy the thrills and spills of modern-day burlesque.

“Theatregoers completely immerse themselves in the evening’s entertainment.”
Michael says, as performers look out from the stage the auditorium is aglitter with the most dazzling outfits.

“As a consequence, the atmosphere at theatres is absolutely electric,” he says.

“We would like to reward the most glamorously-dressed person with a prize they’ll treasure forever.”

ENTERTAINERS, 200 LONDON ROAD, HADLEIGH, BENFLEET, ESSEX, SS7 2PD
Tel: 01702 427100 switchboard, 01702 427102 direct easytheatres.com

Oliver Twist Concert Poster (3)

Oliver Twist Cine Concert

A French school choir will perform two concerts in the Britannia Theatre, Dickens World in Chatham on Tuesday the 4th March. They will accompany a French version of the Frank Lloyd 1922 silent black and white film Oliver Twist, re-mastered by Lobster Films and with English sub titles. The choir is from Nevers near Bourges in central France. Their Choir Master Cyril Lohbrunner wrote the music and his wife the lyrics. The organisers would be particularly delighted for local schools to attend.

Members of the Rochester & Chatham Dickens Fellowship (R&CDF) will read from Charles Dickens Oliver Twist (in English) before each program. The Dickens Fellowship is one of the sponsors of the concert.

Performances are at 2pm in the afternoon and 7.30pm in the evening and tickets from the theatre in advance or on the door cost £4 per person.

For tickets or more information on events, please use the following contact information:

http://www.britanniatheatrechatham.co.uk

Box Office telephone Number – 0844 858 6656
Bookings/general enquiries: bookings@dickensworld.co.uk
Events Information: events@dickensworld.co.uk

harlequin CD coverThe Rude Mechanical Theatre Company this week release the long-awaited soundtrack album from their 2013 summer production ‘Harlequin Goes to the Moon’. Recorded live by the cast at the company’s Peppe Nappa Studio in Eastbourne during the tour which featured over forty shows covering East and West Sussex, Kent, Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset, Somerset and Devon, “I Want, I Want!” provides a permanent reminder of one of their most successful tours since they started to produce original plays in 2002. Read More

Press5After last year’s success, The Russian State Ballet and Opera House is back with a new and vibrant Classical Ballet, The Nutcracker – a family orientated production with the Fairy Tale element and some added glitz from the beautiful costumes.

There will be no surprise to any that this production will be of the most delicate, intimate and powerful kind. This Company is known for its attention to details and, more particularly, for its dramatization in dance of the tragedy and beauty that this ballet is known for.

Join us for an unforgettable journey in the run-up to Christmas and be part of the magic as it unfolds. Read More

imagine theatreYoungsters from Gravesend and nearby areas who have that extra special star quality are being encouraged to come along to the The Woodville and audition for the Christmas pantomime! More

Woodville Theatre for Youth created their very own make believe chocolate factory at the Woodville last week.

The 23 young people, most of whom had never met, were given a short script and tasked to come up with ideas on how to condense Charlie and the chocolate factory into a 20 minute performance, where everyone in the group could be involved. More

Art Festival highlights are as follows:

A Day at the Sea

Children’s day 21st August Wednesday 21st August starting at 9.30 and finishing at 3 pm. Children’s Craft and fun day in and around St Nicholas Church at Southfleet for 5 – 11 year olds. First child £5, brothers and sisters £3 each. Booking and further details from Rose 01474 322807 Much More

Keep children entertained this summer holiday with some creative fun and activities thanks to Medway Council Arts Team.

Heatwave summer activities programme is designed for children aged eight to 16. More

RichardIII-blogpostTwo Medway pupils will be treading the boards this summer with a professional theatre company. Kent-based Changeling Theatre Company open-air tour of Richard III comes to Rochester Castle on 10 July and Upnor on 31 July and 1 August.

Ashley Stevens and Jacob Clarke are playing the princes in the tower at the Rochester and Upnor performances after successfully auditioning earlier this year. Ashley, who turns 16 next month, lives in Lordswood and has just completed his GCSEs, including drama. He is looking forward to performing in Medway with all the cast. He said: “I’m not sure acting is something I want to pursue because at the moment I need to concentrate on my A’ Levels studies – including drama. I’m really grateful to Changeling Theatre Company for giving me this opportunity. More

The Britannia Theatre will be hosting a wedding fair on Sunday 30th June from 11am to 3pm.

The Britannia Theatre can be found on Leviathan Way at the Chatham Dockside Complex, within Dickens World.

Artistic portrait with textured background, bearded man with VenGB Theatre Company will be returning to Arundel Castle from 22-24 August for three enchanted evenings of outdoor Shakespearean performances as part of the Arundel Festival.

Hosted in the unique setting of the Castle’s immaculate Collector Earl’s Garden, GB Theatre Company will be performing two of Shakespeare’s best loved comedies against a floodlit castle backdrop.

This year’s audiences can enjoy alfresco performances of The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a particularly apt setting, as Castle Manager Bryan McDonald explains: More

Calling all budding detectives to take part in some interactive theatre in Grain Village

grain murder

A New band have just been added to the line-up of FREE entertainment in Gravesend on Saturday 15 June at the Music & Motors Festival of Transport.

Defunk’d are a high-energy funk-rock band from the University of Kent, where all of the band members are studying Music Technology. With a wide range of covers, each of which has been given a unique twist, and a growing number of originals, Defunk’d have found themselves extremely busy over the past few months. More

Three Towns Theatre Company will be putting on Cinderella and rehearsals are well under way, with tickets going on sale shortly. Check their website for details by clicking HERE

cinderella-web

JEDWARDWatch out… Planet Jedward is coming to Medway. Jed-mad fans have been snapping up the tickets for Jedward’s show at The Central Theatre on Friday, 27 September. More than 100 tickets were sold in the first few hours of the show being announced yesterday (Thursday, 9 May) with the box office inundated with calls from fans. And the Irish songsters certainly have a global following with tickets being bought for the Chatham show by fans in the Netherlands and Bosnia, and as far away as Russia and Australia.

Jedward followers have also taken to Twitter too, excitedly commenting on the hair-raising duo’s forthcoming tour and Medway date. The pair, who represented the Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2011 and 2012, first found fame on the X Factor in 2009, where they finished in sixth place. Since then they have gone on to release nine singles, three albums, appear on Celebrity Big Brother and their own reality TV shows.

Tickets are priced at £25 and are available from the box office on 01634 338388 or at http://www.medwayticketslive.co.uk

The brilliant Rude Mechanical Theatre Company will perform their delightful and hilarious new play ‘Harlequin Goes to the Moon’ in Higham this summer, outdoors on The Recreation Ground. Some of you may have seen and enjoyed their performance of ‘The Dressing Book’ back in the winter – and they will be back again. These white faced clown-like travelling players are described in The Guardian as ‘a crucial part of our theatre ecology’ and in The Independent on Sunday as ‘consistently captivating’ and should not be missed. All the actors are experienced full time professional actor / musicians working regularly on television and in theatres around the country and perform in a very physical style combining mime and traditional movements dating back to the Italian Renaissance. More

Alex Hutton Piano Trio featuring Asaf Sirkis on drums. Tuesday 14 May, 8.00pm at The Brook Theatre Chatham. Alex Hutton, brings his fine piano trio with Yuri Goloubev on double bass and the amazing drummer Asaf Sirkis, to play music with the joy and optimism found in big film scores, combined with folky nuances and a sense of space and stillness. “inventive … cinematic, folksong-like melodies.” The Guardian. Tickets: £11.00. Jazz Mailing List members and members of the Theatres Loyalty Scheme receive a discount of £1.00 per ticket. 01634 338338

Billy Ocean is back in Medway.

The chart-topping soul singer will be at The Central Theatre on Friday, 17 May and tickets to see the popular, global superstar – who was a hit at last year’s castle concerts – are sold out.

WOMANBilly will be supported by WOMAN when he appears at Chatham. Three world-class singers – Mazz Murray, Gina Murray and Emma Kershaw – perform their own arrangements of typically male songs to surprising effect. The uniqueness of WOMAN lies in the awesome vocal talents of these three formidable singers

Explore the world of Shakespeare with Medway Community Learning. The course looks at the culture of Shakespeare and his actors by studying his plays and the conditions of Elizabethan theatre. This course combines theory and practical and leads to a performance. The world of Shakespeare course starts on Monday, 29 April at 7pm at Eastgate House, Rochester. The full fee is £86, concessions available. To enrol contact Medway Community Learning at http://www.medway.gov.uk/adultlearning or phone 01634 338400.

LD Frazier - Gospel SingerLD Frazier will be giving a concert on Tuesday 16th April 2013 at 7.45 at the Brook Theatre, Chatham. Tickets £11 and £10 from the theatre Box Office 01634 338338

L D Frazier was born in Cleveland and grew up in Buffalo and Los Angeles. He later moved to Detroit and sang with the harmony group Richard Green’s Acapells. In 1974 Frazier decided to devote his life to full-time gospel singing and from New York he has taken his gospel songs all around the world, performing in countries including Brazil, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, Egypt and Europe as well as making regular visits to the United Kingdom. More

Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales
The Central Theatre, Chatham
Sunday, 7 April at 3pm

For a non-chocolate treat this Easter take the children to the theatre.
Award-winning children’s author Julia Donaldson’s fantastically funny stories – Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales – are bought to life at The Central Theatre, Chatham on Sunday, 7 April at 3pm.

Under the sea, on the farm, and in the jungle, these popular stories have been woven together with music and colourful puppets. Aimed at children aged three and upwards, the show is part of the Sundays are for Kids programme at Medway’s two theatres.
An absolute treat for children this Easter holiday – one not to miss.

Tickets, priced at £12, are available from the box office on 01634 338338 or online at http://www.medwayticketslive.co.uk

A look ahead to April at The Central Theatre and The Brook Theatre, Chatham.

Tiddler and other terrific tales
Sunday, 7 April 3pm
The Central Theatre
Tickets £12
Julia Donaldson’s most popular books are bought to life on the stage.

Joe Brown in concert
Friday, 12 April 7.30pm
The Central Theatre
Tickets £26
If you haven’t seen Joe’s talent already, here’s your chance.

Feast of Fiddles
Sunday, 14 April 7.30pm
The Brook Theatre
Tickets £16.50
Celebrating its 20th year, some of the UK’s finest fiddlers bring their own style together.

Comedy Club
Monday, 15 April 8pm
The Brook Theatre
Tickets £10
An evening with some of the best stand-up on the UK circuit.

Screen Classic: Brief Encounter
Monday, 15 April 7.30pm
The Central Theatre
Tickets £7

Let’s Talk Bike
Tuesday, 16 April 7.30pm
The Central Theatre
Tickets £15
TT Champions Ian Hutchinson and Nick Jefferies have won the Isle of Man TT eight times. In this unique show the riders give the inside track on what it’s like to race this exciting and dangerous circuit.

Jazz at The Brook – LD Frazier, New York Gospel singer
Tuesday, 16 April 8pm
The Brook Theatre
Tickets £11

The Girl with No Heart
Wednesday, 17 April 7.45pm
The Brook Theatre
Tickets £7
A delicate, provocative and haunting production bought to life with puppetry and music.

Folk at The Brook – John Kirkpatrick
Thursday, 18 April 8pm
The Brook Theatre
Tickets £10

Sean Lock
Thursday, 18 April 8pm
The Central Theatre
Tickets £21
A hilarious new stand-up show from this popular entertainer.

Cabaret of Curiosities
Friday, 19 April 8pm
The Brook Theatre
Tickets £11

Equator presents South Indian Bharatnatyam Dance
Saturday, 20 April
The Brook Theatre
Tickets £12, concessions available
Dancers bring to life the changing spectacle of traditional Bharatnatyam.

Chas & Dave
Friday, 26 April 7.30pm
The Central Theatre
Tickets £24

To book tickets to any of the shows, phone the box office on 01634 338338 or visit http://www.medwayticketslive.co.uk

Two Brook Youth Theatre performers in a previous production.

Two Brook Youth Theatre performers in a previous production.

Wannabe young actors can learn the tricks of the trade and take the first step on the performing arts career ladder thanks to The Brook Youth Theatre. Run by Play on Words theatre company, place are now booking on the new 10-week summer term, which starts on Wednesday 17 April.

Aimed at 13-18 year olds, the workshops will give young people the opportunity to work with industry professionals, develop drama skills and introduce them to important theatrical practitioners, writers and styles of theatre.

The workshops will include improvisation, scripted drama, songs, movement, devising short theatrical pieces, as well as working towards performances at the Dickens Festival and a Young People’s Performing Arts Gala Evening on Saturday, 6 July. The group meets at The Brook Theatre, Chatham, from 17 April to 26 June, from 7-9pm. The course is £44 and places can be booked from 23 March through the theatres box office on 01634 338338. More

4 February was the 30th anniversary of Karen Carpenters Death. On the 28 February Carole Gordon, with the Blue Jeans Band and Singers will be performing at the Woodville Halls Gravesend, paying tribute to Karen Carpenter with their show “Voice of the Heart” Karen Carpenter – A musical memory with tracks from The Carpenters. Box Office 01474 337774

The Little Lost Frog and the Christmas Wish: The Brook Theatre, Chatham, Saturday, 15 December to Saturday, 5 January 2013
The Little Lost Frog and the Christmas Wish is this year’s Christmas show at the Brook Theatre, Chatham.
Designed specifically for three to six year olds, the promenade performance takes the audience on an interactive journey through magical lands as the audience help the Little Lost Frog find his way back home.
Featuring large scale interactive sets, a multisensory tunnel, puppetry, new music, animation, contemporary dance and smell design, the show is the third annual joint Christmas production by three resident creative companies at the Brook Theatre – Icon Theatre, Loop Dance and Play on Words Theatre.
Previous years have been very successful, and with annual audiences figures of more than 4,000, it’s becoming something of a festive must-do for families with 3-6 year old children.
‘Lovely theatre… No wonder the children were so entranced. If I see a children’s Christmas show this year with more charm and originality, I shall be very surprised.’
The Stage review of The Mouse Who Saved Christmas (Christmas 2010).

Cast

The Christmas Wish: Nina Atkinson
Cookie & ensemble: Natalie Bond
The Little Lost Frog: Mark Conway
Mrs Cupcake, the Christmas Sprite & ensemble: Miriam Cooper
Miriam Cooper has just finished in Bravo 22’s award winning production of The Two Worlds of Charlie F (‘Stark and powerfully affecting’ – Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph) and work has also included Playing with Fire (Young Vic), The Ghost Train (Bristol Old Vic). Mark Conway recently starred in the Southwark Playhouse’s Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World – Time Out Critic’s Choice.

Creative team

Animations: Reza Ben Gajra (Barbican, Framed Film Festival).
Set design: Irina Borisova (The Doll’s House, Arcola Theatre & The Space. ‘Beautiful spatial awareness… with dream-like signs and symbols’ – Lyn Gardner, The Guardian).
Costume design: Emma Thatcher
Composer & arranger: Darren Clark (Jackson’s Lane, The Pegasus Theatre, Wilton’s Music Hall, Royal National Theatre and BBC)
Director: Nancy Hirst (Release, Pleasance Edinburgh & UK Tour, Fringe First Winner 2011. ‘A sharp, impeccably performed and blazingly impassioned piece of theatre… simply terrific’ – The Times)

Production companies

Icon Theatre is an award winning, national touring company producing innovative visual and physical theatre. Working with diverse collaborators from different backgrounds, each of their shows generates a unique combination of theatrical techniques, blurring the boundaries between movement, text, film, dance, mask, mime, music and puppetry. Their most recent show ‘Release’ won a Fringe First Award 2011 and was shortlisted for the Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award and the Brighton Festival Fringe Emerging Talent Awards. Reviews of their work include:

‘Icon Theatre has created one of the most compelling and theatrically effective pieces of storytelling on the Fringe’ The Scotsman
‘Icon has achieved something remarkable… this is a theatrical treat.’ The Stage
‘Stellar high energy, gritty performances, strikingly staged… a moving, forceful production’ **** British Theatre Guide

Play on Words formed in 1990 and has produced: Tom Crean – Antarctic Explorer (2001-12), touring Ireland, UK, Australia, USA, and winner of a Fringe First Award, Pick of the Fringe – Best Solo Show Award (Sunday Times), Best Solo Performance Award (New York International Fringe Festival), and Best Theatre Work by Established Artiste Award (Adelaide Fringe). Other productions include Galway Girl and Melody for Medway Fuse Festival 2009 and O’Sullivan Beara – The Last Gaelic Chieftain, which toured extensively in Ireland in 2010 & 2011. Its most recent production Prostitutes Only Marry in May toured N. Ireland and Scotland (2008 -11) ending at Waterloo East Theatre, London, where it received a nomination in the Off West-End Awards for Best Female Performance. Reviews include:
‘This is a genuine small pleasure, the kind of piece that gives you an insight into unseen and unsung lives.’ The Guardian
‘An unparalleled portrayal.’ New York Times
‘Spirited, highly-intelligent, powerful’ The Stage
‘No less than a triumph.’ Sunday Tribune Dublin
‘Miriam Cooper is a talent we’ll surely be hearing more of’ WhatsOnStage
Loop Dance is an exciting and accessible award winning dance company based in the south east, performing work by Nina Atkinson (Artistic Director) and international choreographers. Formed in 1992, they have an impressive history of creating large scale site specific dance events for camera and installation works gaining a reputation for ambitious, imaginative and compulsive work created by high profile, cutting edge national choreographers, while their touring programme aims to benefit the regional dance ecology and foster national appeal for the art form of dance and dance education. More

Two fabulous shows are coming to The Brook Theatre this Autumn as part of the Sundays are for Kids season of shows.

First up is a heart-warming and funny tale about the unlikeliest of friendships. Blunderbus present The Selfish Croc on Sunday, 14 October at 11am and again at 2pm.
By the banks of a great river, lived a large crocodile. He was a very selfish crocodile and he wouldn’t share this river with any of the other creatures. So, the animals stayed away. More

Medway theatre’s technical crew will take centre stage for a change when they host an exciting summer workshop that promises to reveal the tricks of their trade. More

Children will be making a right royal exhibition of themselves at a free workshop next month (April). To mark the countdown to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, children will be making crowns and dressing up, before posing for professional Medway artist Wendy Daws as she draws their silhouettes. More

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