THE SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW (BALLET IN TWO ACTS, 5-INSTRUMENT VERSION) op.522 (December 2000)

The definitive stage version of The Snowman as produced at The Peacock Theatre, London 2000-2008 by Sadler's Wells/Birmingham Rep, based on the book by Raymond Briggs and the Channel 4 animated film (arranged for 5 instruments)
Published by: Chester Music
Commissioned by: Commissioned by Birmingham Repertory Theatre 1993, revised 1997, revised 2000
Instrumentation:

Five-player version: as used in the Peacock Theatre version from 2000: Piano (MD); Flute (piccolo); Percussion; Kurzweil Synth 1 (strings and harp); Kurzweil Synth 2 (woodwind and brass)

Orchestral version: 2 flutes (piccolos); Oboe (Cor Ang); 2 Clarinets (2 dbling bass clar); Bassoon; 2 Horns in F; Trumpet in C; 2 percussion (incl. timps); Piano; harp; Strings.


[Key to Abbreviations]
Note on Lyrics: Music, lyrics and scenario by Howard Blake with additional material by Bill Alexander (the director) and Robert North (the choreographer), based on the book by Raymond Briggs and animated film of the book made by TVC for Channel 4
Duration: 84 mins
First Performance: Peacock Theatre, December 2000.
Sheet Music Available
Full score for sale
Study score for sale
Orchestral parts for sale
Piano / Vocal score for sale
Vocal score for sale
Instrumental / piano score for sale
Instrumental parts for sale
Full score for hire
Study score for hire
Orchestral parts for hire
Piano / Vocal score for hire
Vocal score for hire
Instrumental / piano score for hire
Instrumental parts for hire
Available from Chester Music/Highbridge Music

All sheet music for "The Snowman" and "Walking In The Air" since 2010 is published and available from Chester Music Ltd, part of The Music Sales Group, www.chesternovello.com It can be purchased online from MusicRoom.com, or from music retailers.

"Walking In The Air" is also available in a concert piano-only version arranged by the composer direct from Highbridge Music as part of the collection of piano pieces called "Lifecycle", available form Amazon or from Highbridge Music; enquiries to anna@annamenzies.com

Recordings Available
The Snowman - London Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded: May 2006
Artists: London Philharmonic Orchestra, Chris Jarvis (narrator), David Parry (conductor)

The Snowman the live stage show
Released: December 2010
Recorded: 1st June 2010
Artists: Film director Nick Wickham, film producer Emer Patten, narrator Joanna Lumley, choreographer Robert North, stage director Bill Alexander, designer Ruari Murchison, cast and musicians of the Sadler's Wells/ Birmingham Rep/Peacock Theatre production, Music and lyrics by Howard Blake
Available from: Amazon UK

The Snowman The Stage Show
Released: 1998
Recorded: July 1998
Artists: Director Thomas Grimm, Producer Neil Mundy for Reiner Moritz Associates.
Available from: Highbridge Music

Complete study DVD available from Birmingham Rep

Howard Blake describes 25 years of The Snowman animated film and 10 years of The Snowman Stage Show at Sadler's Wells Peacock Theatre in London's West End and plays "Walking in the Air". View the recording here.

The classic original Columbia album conducted by Howard Blake with treble soloist Peter Auty and narration by Bernard Cribbins is available from Sony Music Entertainment CDX71116CD, Amazon and retailers.

The 2010 DVD film of The Snowman Live Stage Show narrated by Joanna Lumley is available from Sony Music Entertainment, CDR 81267; also from Amazon and retailers.

Notes

The revised version of The Snowman Stage Show (A ballet in two acts) created in 2000 added a new section of music, Jack Frost's Storm Dance, which was composed after discussions with Ian Albery the Artistic Director of Sadler's Wells Theatre, who also agreed to collaborate in the presentation of the show. Considerable changes were made to the second act, some pieces dropped, new pieces added and the order changed. New characters were introduced, The Ice Princess and Jack Frost (for whom Howard created the new 'Storm Dance'). This version has remained unchanged up to 2008 and is regarded as the definitive version. The previous ballet version has been dropped in favour of this version. It may be performed in one of 2 complete separate orchestrations:

1. The 5-player version, which uses 2 synthesizers, brilliantly programmed by Stuart Andrews plus acoustic piano(MD), flute, and percussion


2. Full orchestral version: 2 flutes (piccolos); Oboe (Cor Ang); 2 Clarinets (2 dbling bass clar); Bassoon; 2 Horns in F; Trumpet in C; 2 percussion (incl. timps); Piano; harp; Strings.

Choreography by Robert North, Directed by Bill Alexander

+ Queries in regard to performances of the The Stage Show of The Snowman (a ballet in two acts) should be addressed to:

James Rushton
Chester Music Ltd,
14-15 Berners Street,
London W1T 3LJ
tel: 020 7612 7400
fax 020 7612 7549
james.rushton@musicsales.co.uk)

+ Queries in regard to licensing of media use for ‘Walking in the Air’ or ‘The Snowman’ should be addressed to:

Susan Tilly (Licensing manager)
Chester Music Ltd/ Music Sales,
11 Denmark Street,
London, WC1.
susan.tilly@musicsales.co.uk
tel:0207 636 4855

+Queries in regard to The Stage Show, as performed at Birmingham Rep and The Peacock Theatre in association with Sadler’s Wells (1993-2005), should be addressed to:

Stuart Rogers or Wif Maton,
Birmingham Rep,
Broad Street,
Birmingham B12EP.
stuart.rogers@birmingham-rep.co.uk,
tel: 0121 245 2000,
fax: 1021 245 2100.

+ Any other queries falling outside these categories in regard to ‘The Snowman’ should be made direct to Howard Blake/Highbridge Music Ltd: howardblake.obe@virgin.net

Performances

1st December 2015 Robert North ballet company, The opera houses of Monnchen Gladbach and Krefeld, North Rhine/Westphalia

New productions of three ballets first created in collaboration with choreographer/director Robert North are proposed over the next 5/6 years. They are planned to include:

1. A newly-revised version of the epic work created originally in 3 acts for the Gothenburg Opera House, first perf. 1996 (then titled as 'Eva'.)

2. Robert's much-loved and much-performed one-act ballet 'The Annunciation' (first perf. 1979)

3. A one-hour version of 'The Snowman' which has proved itself so very succesful in the UK, running for 17 consecutive seasons in conjunction with Sadler's Wells in London's West End. (1998-2014)

28th November 2014
- 8th February 2015
Sadlers Wells/Birmingham Rep. RobertNorth/Bill Alexander/Howard Blake, Peacock Theatre London, The Lyceum Sheffield, The Curve Leicester
3rd November 2014
- 9th November 2014
Peacock touring dance company, Tampere auditorium
12th November 2013
- 12th February 2014
The Snowman stage show/ballet in two acts., Peacock Theatre, Kingsway, London Theatre Royal, Nottingham; Mayflower Theatre, Southampton; Birmingham Repertory Theatre

The Birmingham Repertory Theatre stage and produce the full-evening two-act ballet of 'The Snowman' in association with Sadler's Wells with whom they jointly present it, breaking records in London's West End by running for 15 consecutive Christmas seasons.'The Snowman' is choreographed by Robert North, directed by Bill Alexander, designed by Ruari Murchison with music and lyrics by Howard Blake.

13th December 2012
- 5th January 2013
EDINBURGH FESTIVAL THEATRE 2012

The Snowman Stage Show (a ballet in 2 acts) will open a three-week season at The Edinburgh Festival Theatre on December 12th

27th November 2012
- 6th January 2013

Sadler's Wells Theatre 2012-13 Season

28 November-6 January, The Birmingham Repertory Theatre production of The Snowman, Peacock Theatre

A 15th year for the traditional Christmas family entertainment based on Raymond Briggs' picture-book and the animated film, the two-act ballet is about a boy who builds a snowman which comes to life.  Featuring Howard Blake’s music and the hit song "Walking In the Air", performed by dance company and live orchestra, choreographed by Robert North and directed by Bill Alexander.

1st March 2012

The Snowman Stage Show is planning to run its third season in South Korea in Spring 2012. The creation of the complete new Korean production by impresario Jae Och Chong  resulted from the succesful 3-week run in the Seoul Opera House in March-April 2009. Howard flew over to rehearse the musicians and oversee the first night.  A huge ovation greeted it and went on for so long that finally Howard was dragged up from his seat and persuaded to dance with the 'Korean Snow-woman' (a new character in traditional Korean costume and a special Korean musical 'signature' - both added specially for this splendid occasion.) The 2010 season was staged with all-Korean cast and musicians at the Hoam Art Hall in Seoul. Current plans suggest that the 2012 season will return to the splendid Seoul Opera House. (tbc)

16th December 2011
- 31st December 2011

Snowmen will be a regular sight in London's West End for the next decade.  Not the result of climate change, but thanks to a new 10-year deal to stage the critically-acclaimed live version of the much-loved children’s classic, THE SNOWMAN, at the Peacock Theatre. The Snowman has been staged every Christmas at the Peacock Theatre in London’s West End for the last twelve years, having started life at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1993. This new deal means the show will continue to delight audiences at the Peacock Theatre for many Christmases to come.  THE SNOWMAN first appeared as a beautifully illustrated picture book by Raymond Briggs in 1978. It subsequently inspired the classic Oscar Nominated, BAFTA Award winning animated film produced by John Coates and directed by Dianne Jackson, first transmitted by Channel 4 on Christmas Eve, 1982. The film’s signature song Walking In The Air, by Howard Blake, reached number 3 in the UK charts when sung by choirboy Aled Jones in 1985, and the song was voted number 2 in a poll conducted by Classic FM to find out children’s favourite pieces of classical music, beating Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

 In 2011 THE SNOWMAN will tour to: 

The Lowry, Salford (22 – 26 Nov),

Tampere Opera House, Finland (8 – 11 Dec)

International Conference Centre (ICC)Birmingham (16 – 31 Dec).

30th November 2011
- 8th January 2012

This year's run of the Snowman Stage Show is scheduled to open at Sadler's Wells Peacock Theatre in London's West End on December 1st and is scheduled to run till January 9th, about 66 performances. This will be its fourteenth successive Christmas season.

28th March 2009
- 12th April 2009
A 3-week season by the cast of the Sadler's Wells/Peacock Theatre Show with a Korean instrumental ensemble rehearsed by the composer, Opera House, Seaoul Arts Centre Korea, presented by Credia

For the occasion Howard created a 'Korean Snowman' in a traditional costume specially designed by Rory Murchison and Howard specially arranged a Korean musical 'signature' for the new character. Plans for futher performances in different theatres in Korea are being scheduled through to December 2010

December 2008
13th December 2008
- 14th December 2008
Ballet Bellevue, Seattle,
3rd December 2008
- 11th January 2009
HOWARD BLAKE (music and lyrics); ROBERT NORTH(choreography); BILL ALEXANDER (direction) Scenario by Howard Blake, Robert North & Bill Alexander based on the picture-book by Raymond Briggs and the animated film by Diane Jackson. A Birmingham Rep/Sadler's Wells production 11am performances: 6, 7, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 Dec 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 Jan 2.30pm performances: 6, 7, 8, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 Dec 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 11 Jan 7pm performances: 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 20, 27 Dec 2, 3, 9, 10 Jan, Celebrating its eleventh Christmas season performing at the Peacock Theatre (Sadler's Wells 'Theatre in the West End')

Featuring the song 'Walking in the Air' and the full 90-minute hit score by Howard Blake played by a live orchestra. 'An essential part of London's Christmas calendar. A captivating mix of dance, stagecraft and music.' TIME OUT

11th January 2008
- 19th January 2008
Birmingham Rep/Sadler's Wells company, directed by Bill Alexander, the 5-player programmed version conducted from the piano by Jeremy Young, Lowry Theatre, Salford, Manchester

First performance of the show at The Lowry 11 January 2008

Reviews


Jamie Tabberer
3 Theatre review

The Snowman @ the Peacock Theatre

Respect where it's due, the producers of this annual festive outing must have a tough job on their hands year in, year out with this. Commendably, in their take on The Snowman, they stay painstakingly faithful to Raymond Briggs 1978 children's book and the subsequent Academy Award-nominated film adaptation. Full marks for that. But in eking out a story that takes all of 20 minutes to tell (a little boy’s snowman comes to life, they go for a fly, they return home, snowman promptly melts) to twice that length, they’re left with another 40 or more to fill; not with dialogue (the book and the film were wordless) or therefore much more of a story, but with, well, a lot of mindless banality. Mindless banality that kids will love but adults will either struggle to engage with or find hilariously funny if they can locate their inner-stoner. Or perhaps my memory escapes me; perhaps there was a dancing pineapple in the film version. *Makes a note of that*

Liberties are taken, but in keeping with what makes The Snowman special, they’re understated enough to pass by without being too annoying, and the sound of children’s laughter and wonder (or crying and screaming; this is a kids’ show so don’t complain about the inevitable) is always a sweetener.

Being a wordless story the cast are obviously under increased pressure to communicate through movement and dance. In the case of the former they excel, particularly the children with their exaggerated walking when pretending to wade through heavy snow, completely free of self-consciousness in a childish way, to the magnetic warmth and silliness of our titular protagonist; he moves slowly and bouncily, when he falls it's as if it's in slow motion, and he tumbles effortlessly as if he’s made of cotton wool. The costumes are spot on, by the way; and this is surely no mean feat in the case of the snowman himself who could just as easily turned out looking rather like the antagonist in a Christmas-themed horror film.

Indeed, where this production truly shines is in its recreation of what’s concrete about the tale; it’s not just the costumes that are visually triumphant but also the slightly bizarre set (the family home looks like it’s made of giant, pale-coloured marshmallows) and later, the almost acidic but beautiful use of colour and light to recall images of the Northern Lights or falling snow.

The climactic moment, when the two friends take flight to the sound of Howard Blake’s haunting Walking in the Air, is heart-stoppingly effective for something so simplistic. During the interval, in the foyer, I overheard some mums say that during a recent performance, during the money shot, one of the zip wires failed to work and boy and snowman had no choice but to walk around the stage waving their arms around, which must have sucked. I dare say each show’s success is dependent on this crucial moment which makes me wonder whether it was really as good as I think it was. The intensity of the final few moments is severely glossed over, which is another gripe of mine. But ultimately, when you walk away smiling and feeling like a kid again again, instead of patronised and completely over stimulated as with everything else designed for the modern child, why question it?

James Tabberer, Gay Times, 19/12/2011


It has often been said that the stage production of Raymond Brigg’s classic tale, The Snowman, which is performed annually at London’s Peacock Theatre is ‘as traditional at Christmas as mince pies and Santa Claus.’ While I’m inclined to agree wholeheartedly with that statement, I’d be even more inclined to further it by adding that while those two iconoclastic seasonal items are indeed, synonymous with the festive season, neither has been known to imbue those who indulge in them, young or, old with as much Christmas spirit!

Anticipation ran high prior to the 11am performance of The Snowman the Friday before Christmas, with almost every other seat occupied by a toddler, and babies gurgling happily from laps. Apart from a trip to the circus, a visit to the Peacock Theatre to see The Snowman is the only place I know of that not only allows, but encourages the waving of flashing wands and torches! As such, a multitude of feathery white wands, flashing a myriad of colours between them, intermingled with snowman head torches of shimmering blue and green, and many smiles were inspired by the animated curtain, which depicted a snowfall in full fettle. As I hadn’t seen the show myself in several years, and this year marks, not only the twenty-fifth anniversary of the animated classic, but also, the tenth anniversary of the stage show, and I am a huge fan of both, I definitely felt that I was in the right place, at the right time.

As the familiar strains of Howard Blake’s beloved score rose from the piano, my thoughts briefly wandered back to 1982 when the ‘animated sketchbook’ version of The Snowman first appeared on television. Had it really been that long ago? It didn’t seem possible that, that much time had gone by, as The Snowman has been part of Christmases, past and present, ever since!

The story unfolds with eight year old James, snuggling down into his warm covers on a Christmas Eve morning. Once he realises, however, that his world has been blanketed in snow during the night, he is only too eager to jump up, throw on some warm clothing, and trundle outside so he can get stuck into making a snowman!

Though I doubt very much whether there is anyone out there who is not familiar with Raymond Briggs’ beloved tale, I’d be loathe to spoil the surprise of it for anyone, just in case! Suffice it to say that in many stories, the world over, Christmas Eve night is seen as the most magical of the year and The Snowman is no exception to that popular myth!

There is no dialogue in the show, so the silently performed action of its storyline is timed to move along with its wonderfully emotive score by Howard Blake, played live. For the stage, ‘Walking in the Air’, the popular Christmas classic originally sung for the film by a St. Paul’s Cathedral choir boy, Peter Auty, is sung by Susan Monnox. Auty who was erroneously left off the credits in the rush to complete the film in 1982, finally received his just deserts on the 20th Anniversary edition of the animation, released in 2002. Until that time, Welsh singer Aled Jones, who’d been hired to record a Christmas single of ‘Walking in the Air’ in 1985, and was immediately catapulted to Top of the Pops fame, was mistakenly credited with its’ original rendition. An interesting digression by way of a bit of intriguing Snowman trivia!

As presented onstage, the story of The Snowman has a very light-hearted feel, with some slightly broad acting at times, but the action never becomes pantoesque, and everything has been carefully timed and fine tuned to keep the storyline moving along, so as to minimise childish (or adult) mind wondering. The toddlers in the audience were very attentive throughout, apart from during the show’s few short dance sequences when some began to shift in their seats a bit, but the more cultured aspects of The Snowman, especially created for the stage version, are, happily, interwoven with the intermittent appearance of various, delightful animal (and winter) characters as well as James and his Snowman and that of Father Christmas himself, much to the delight of his fans, so any lapses in attention were very minimal.

Given the dense coverage of the Snowman’s costume, it was impossible to tell which of the two actors who share the part – Nicholas Cass-Beggs or Daniel Wright, was bringing it to life the morning we were there. Whoever he was, he was superbly upbeat, humorous and amazingly agile, (considering his togs) in the role! Jack O’ Connor was energetic and thoroughly charming as James, the imaginative boy who creates the snowman. His enthusiasm for snow and Christmas was so infectious that many of the toddlers sat watching in fascinated delight during his scenes. I think it’s fair to say that their eagerness for ‘Christmas to begin’ as Dickens put it when referring to the young Crachitt Children, was, given their post show joy, in full bloom by the end of it.

Since I last saw The Snowman onstage about four years ago, some of its dance sequences have been expanded, to the point where they could almost be considered mini ballets. Jodie Blemings’ high leaps and vigorous dancing as the only baddie in the show, Jack Frost, was a real stand-out, as was his silvery spiked costume and frosty makeup. To his amusement, some of the toddlers hissed with all their might when he came out to take his bows at the end of the performance. Eleanor Forrest was lovely as the Ice Princess whom James encounters when he journeys northward and Nadia Sadiq did a graceful turn as the ballerina on his music box. Tommi Sliden was greeted with shouts of glee as rosy cheeked Father Christmas; he’d also performed the role of James’ bespectacled Dad earlier on.

But the show is filled with lovely performances from all of its players, from those portraying penguins and James’ cat and teddy bear, right through to the international contingent of snowmen, such as the Chinese, the Cowboy and a top hat and tails, ‘Fred Astaire. Hannah Flynn, who played James’ mum, drew loud cheers and baton and torch twirling in her second guise as Scotty the snowman during confrontational scene with the villainous Jack Frost.

Combine all of the above with several truly magical, shifting sets, designed by Ruari Murchison, an Auroraborellis pallet of lighting effects, courtesy of Tim Mitchell, the knowing, gently affectionate direction of Bill Alexander, orchestrations by the score’s composer Howard Blake and David Shenton, the fanciful choreography by the aptly named Robert North and stunning flying effects by Flying by Foy, Ltd, and you come up with a stunningly magical, lightly sentimental mix that makes this show the perfect outing for the holiday season, whether you are part of a family that includes children, or, simply, a Snowman enthusiast, of any age!

One elderly gentleman who’d brought his wife to see The Snowman as part of her birthday celebrations, at her request, enthusiastically proclaimed as we headed out of the theatre after the show’s surprise ending, ‘I didn’t think I’d enjoy this show, but I did… so much! It’s beautiful!’ Well said!

If you’re feeling a trifle cynical about Christmas this year, The Snowman could be just the anecdote you need to revive your sense of wonder. If you’re already sporting a jolly sprig of holly on your sleeve, along with your heart, it may just bring your brimming cup of holiday cheer to the point of overflowing!

M.Couzens, Sadler's Wells Magazine, 6/1/2008


Watch out, "Nutcracker." "The Snowman" is coming.

Northshore Performing Arts hosted Olympic Ballet's "Nutcracker" two weekends back. They hosted Ballet Bellevue's "The Snowman" last weekend.

Same venue. Same target audience: kids for the holidays. Same format: ballet.

Both set stories in a child's imagination. Both develop the child's relationship with an imaginary friend. Both translate experience into dream sequences. Both celebrate wonder, reconciliation, joy. The similarities go on and on.

"Nutcracker" has been around for more than a century; "Snowman," since 1978, when it first appeared as Raymond Briggs' story by the same title. It was after 1978 that Howard Blake wrote music and lyrics for the story and Jennifer Porter choreographed the story, the music and the lyrics for "Snowman." No doubt, it owes "Nutcracker" to some extent.

But as compared with Olympic Ballet's "Nutcracker," Ballet Bellevue's "Snowman" is fresher, cleaner, simpler; in design on paper and performance on stage.

No Freudian complexities. No violent sword fight pitting Nutcracker Prince against the grotesque King Rat. Nothing kids don't care about. Nothing that scares the daylights out of kids.

"Snowman" posits a little boy, James (Leo Malkin), who builds Snowman (Kyle Johnson). James goes to sleep that night. Snowman comes to life, presumably dream life. Ballerina Doll (Alexa Kovalick), Bunnies (Elizabeth Kanning, Byanka Larkins), Fox (Ting Liu) and Pierrot, a clown (Caroline Burnett), come to life.

Cat (Katrina Muser) stretches, yawns and stays aloof.

James and Snowman frolic inside the household till Snowman works up a sweat, which puts him in danger of melting.

Adventure picks up when the two go outside, play; then travel to the one place on earth where it is always cold enough for Snowman, his home, the North Pole.

There, characters, exotic and marvelous, do their thing: Father Christmas (Michael Wojack), Reindeer (Byanka Larkins, Kimberly Knight), Ice Princess (Natasha Keeley) and Jackie Frost (Christina Stockdale); to name only the principals.

The pristine voice of Child Soprano from Columbia Choirs, Amanda Friemel, did a marvelous kind of narrative by way of introducing life at the North Pole in the Bellevue production last Saturday afternoon.

Ballet Bellevue Orchestra, under the baton of Dr. David Upham, had an uplifting, uncomplicated way of bringing out the simplicity of emotion that so easily communicates to a child's sense of wonder. Bravo, BBO.

I can't say the principal dancers fully explored all the choreographic possibilities. Daring and high energy could have stepped up the excitement. Steadiness of foot was hit and miss. Advice to BB: Ham it up. Showcase.

On the other hand, students of ballet, some of them very young, had a lot of fun in supporting roles. I took a lesson. They had fun. I had fun.

"Nutcracker" or "Snowman," take your pick. I don't say one is better than the other, necessarily.

I do say, "Nutcracker," watch out; "The Snowman" is coming.

Dale Burrows, Daily Herald, Everett, Washington, USA, 15/12/2007

Related Works


'THE SNOWMAN CONCERT VERSION for narrator (or film), boy soprano and orchestra' op.323 (October 1983) (Audio Sample Available)
A concert work based on the score for the animated film with narration written by Howard Blake (based on the picture-book by Raymond Briggs and with his permission)
'THE SNOWMAN STAGE SHOW (TWELVE-PLAYER VERSION)' op.459 (September 1993) (Audio Sample Available)
A full-evening theatre show in two acts, based on the book by Raymond Briggs, the film by TVC and incorporating the music of the ballet (arranged here for 12 instruments)
'THE SNOWMAN SHOW (NINE-INSTRUMENT VERSION)' op.497 (May 1997)
A revised version of the Birmingham Rep 1993 Production

Related Autobiography Chapters


Four Songs of The Nativity and The Bach Choir (1990)
Snowman Stage Show triumphs with a revised second act (2000)
'Speech after long silence' (2011)

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