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RARE TREAT !!! BACKSTAGE TOURS: Royal Alexandra & Princess of Wales Theatres

  • Nov 30, 2013 · 8:45 AM
  • This location is shown only to members

Join us for once-in-a-lifetime private backstage tours of both the Royal Alexandra Theatre and Princess of Wales Theatre, led by John Karastamatis, a Mirvish executive who is a fantastic storyteller and who knows the theatre industry inside out.

This FREE two-hour tour will also include historical and architectural information on the two theatres where many of Canada's biggest shows are staged.

The public is normally not allowed backstage at Mirvish theatres. This tour is being given exclusively to Thumbs Up Theatre Toronto. Please see signup information under the HOW TO BOOK section below.

 

ABOUT THE TOUR

Go backstage at two of Toronto's most prominent theatres. Mirvish Productions is inviting 50 Thumbs Up Theatre members to come and discover the hidden nooks and crannies of the Royal  Alexandra (built 1907) and the Princess of Wales (built 1993), the beautiful sister theatre of King Street.

On this guided tour you will:

- learn the background stories of these two magnificent theatres

- find out the architectural tricks used to create the relatively intimate environments (despite capacities of 1,500 and 2,000 seats respectively)

- hear stories of the fascinating personalities of the staff, casts and crew who have worked the theatres

- visit the wings, flies, dressing rooms and stages

- be part of theatrical history

The tour will be led by John Karastamatis. Our group recently heard John speak at the North York Public Library. Those who attended were wonderfully informed by John's vast knowledge of the Mirvishes and the theatre industry. This tour will be a great treat because John is full of anecdotes about theatre and he is a very entertaining storyteller. John is Mirvish's Director of Communications.

Belinda has been trying for 3 1/2 years to set up a backstage tour of the 106-year-old Royal Alexandra Theatre and 20-year-old Princess of Wales Theatre. It's unlikely we'll get another opportunity to go backstage at these magnificent theatres so don't miss this opportunity!

Please note: The tour is being held early on Saturday, Nov. 30 because we have to be finished by 11 a.m., in time for the stage crews to begin their pre-setup for the matinee performances. Currently, Les Miserables is on stage at the Princess of Wales Theatre. Another musical, Once, an eight-time Tony Award winner, will be on stage at the Royal Alexandra Theatre by the time of our tour.

ABOUT ROYAL ALEXANDRA THEATRE: The Royal Alexandra Theatre is the oldest continuously operating legitimate theatre in North America. The 1,497-seat theatre is also North America's first truly "royal" theatre -- royal, by patent, from Edward VII. Since opening in 1907, almost 3,000 productions have played at the theatre. It was named a national historic monument in 1987 on its 80th birthday. More information.

ABOUT PRINCESS OF WALES THEATRE: The Princess of Wales Theatre was built in 1993 by the father-and-son-producing team of Ed and David Mirvish, just a block away from the Royal Alexandra Theatre. The 2000-seat Princess of Wales Theatre is the first privately-owned and financed theatre built in Canada since 1907 -- and the first anywhere in North America in more than 30 years. It opened to the public with the musical Miss Saigon. It  showcases all the best in both tradition and contemporary design. More information

DETAILS

WHEN: Saturday, November 30, 2013

TIME: Tour begins at 9 a.m. sharp. Meet Belinda at 8:45 a.m.

WHERE: Exact meetup location will be e-mailed to attendees the day before the tour. The tour will be at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King Street West, and Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King Street West (west of St. Andrews station on the Yonge-University subway line)

TOUR LENGTH: About two hours

TOUR PRICE: FREE

MEETUP FEE: $2 (Please pay Belinda exact change at the meetup spot)

 

HOW TO BOOK

RSVP on this event page.

Please noteMembers with good, recent attendance records will be given priority for attending this tour.

 

SPECIAL NOTES

GUESTS: Members will not be permitted to bring a guest unless approved by Belinda. Please e-mail Belinda if you want to bring one guest. Belinda will decide on a case-by-case basis. Priority will be given to members' spouses who normally attend with them.

MEETUP FEES ARREARS: Members who owe meetup fees (noted on their profile) will not be permitted on this tour. However, consideration for attendance will be given if members pay the amounts owed prior to the tour date.

POOR ATTENDANCE RECORDS: Members who have poor attendance records, including a history of no-shows or last-minute cancellations, or who have not attended many Thumbs Up theatre meetups, will not be given priority if the attendees' list is full.

This tour is a perk for our dedicated members in good standing. :-)

PLEASE NOTE: You are expected to show up if you are on the attendees' list. Attendees whose plans change must update their RSVP to "no" by 9 a.m. on Friday, November 29, 2013.

Members who fail to show up, or who fail to give 24 hours' notice of cancellation, may be removed from Thumbs Up Theatre Toronto and blocked from rejoining. 



MEETUP ARRANGEMENTS

Meet Belinda at 8:45 a.m. at a location near the theatres. The exact location will be provided to attendees only. Belinda is very short and will be wearing a bright pink coat. Cell # (416) 879-7575. The tour will start at 9 a.m. sharp.

SNACK AFTER TOUR: If members are interested, the group will go out after the tour for a snack at Artisano Bakery at 214 King Street West, just a short walking distance east of the Royal Alexandra Theatre.



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  • Vera

    Thank you Belinda for organizing this amazing event and thank you John for sharing this interesting history of theatres. The tour to the backstage was a special treat. And thanks for such a generous gift: Royal Alexandra Theatre book. With much appreciation. Vera.

    December 4, 2013

  • Katherine Y.

    Belinda, thank you so much for all the hard work you put into organizing this event. It truly was a 5-star, once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget. I was at the Les Miserables show on the Friday night before the tour. It was such a great experience to be on the actual stage when I was just in the audience less than 12 hours earlier! I am going to see Les Mis (again) and Once in Dec and I am sure I'll be remembering this backstage tour then!

    I had the privilege of hearing John speak at the North York Library a few weeks back and was enthralled by his lecture. An hour had never gone by faster. He truly is a masterful speaker and his passion for the theatre is evident in his humorous stories and his extensive historical knowledge of both buildings. A big thank you again John for taking time out on a busy Saturday morning to host this tour!

    December 2, 2013

  • Nancy G

    I've been following all the posts and I couldn't agree more with all the incredibly positive feedback. This definitely qualifies as a 5 Star Meetup. How generous of John to take time and give us these highly informative and entertaining tours topped off with the gift of a beautiful book. One of the many highlights for me was being in the old stage door entrance area of the Royal Alex packed full of mementos. Belinda, I'm so grateful to you for organizing this event. Many thanks!!!

    1 · December 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks to John for volunteering his time to offer this to treat to all of us and for answering so many questions! Thanks to Belinda for organizing this event.

    1 · December 1, 2013

  • Denise J

    This was an excellent meetup. John provided a detailed tour and history of both the Royal Alexandra and Princess of Wales theatres. What a rich theatrical history both of of these theatres have provided to the city of Toronto over the years. Each time I go to a performance at either of these theatres in the future I will be reminded of the history of the theatre I am attending. To Belinda - thank for all the hard work you put into organizing this meetup. :)

    To John - thank you for taking the time and effort to impart a treasure trove of knowledge about the Royal Alexandra and Princess of Wales theatres. Also thank you for the beautiful book. :)

    December 1, 2013

  • Joseph

    This was such a wonderful event I still can believe it happened! The tour and information by John was amazing. The small details like the hat holders underneath the chairs made me smile and tje personal stories shared too. I bought my dress circle ticket after the tour for Les Miserables and am very excited.

    December 1, 2013

  • Tiffany

    Sounded like a wonderful tour that amazed everyone who went. I'm happy to hear the regulars were given that chance to experience the wonder and excitement of a backstage tour.

    Hopefully there might be another one organized in the future (before the Princess of Wales closes for condos) so the lowly newbies or ppl who haven't attended a lot of meetups might get a chance to experience for themselves this marvelous tour and be enlightened to the cultural significance of these two theatres as others on here have expressed in their comments.

    It's too bad the theatres in Toronto don't do backstage tours. I'd be more than happy to pay for that experience myself.

    December 1, 2013

    • Tiffany

      I'm happy to hear that. Hopefully this event might happen again. I'm just not one for a lot of competition. I almost did the standby, but Toronto is difficult to navigate and I didn't know if standbys would be guaranteed a spot. Regardless, I hope this might signal to the organizers how much people LOVE learning the history of the theatre process and perhaps your tour will be used as a demonstration of this need that could be filled.

      December 1, 2013

    • Tiffany

      By organizers, I mean those running the theatre who permitted this event. I realize the organizers on here can only do what is permitted by the theatres. :)

      December 1, 2013

  • Belinda

    A HUGE THANK YOU to John for volunteering his Saturday morning to give us these fantastic tours. I learned so much about the theatres' history. I also found the information on the theatres' architecture, as well as on the Princess of Wale's artwork, extremely interesting.

    It was an INCREDIBLE TREAT to walk on the stages of both theatres ... while they are set up for two major shows: Les Miserables and Once. I also LOVED seeing the behind-the-scenes areas ... especially all the clothing, boots and props set up behind the Les Mis stage at the Princess of Wales Theatre and the old entranceway for actors at the rear of the Royal Alex Theatre.

    Really, these tours were like an early Christmas gift of the best imaginable kind.

    If the tours weren't enough, I was literally speechless (yes, me!) when John gave us all a copy of a beautiful book entitled "The Royal Alexandra Theatre: A Celebration of 100 Years". The flap on the inside front cover indicates the book's value to be $39.95.

    2 · December 1, 2013

    • Belinda

      Thank you to Glen for handing out the "tickets" to everyone before the tours began. Thank you to everyone for showing up. We had PERFECT ATTENDANCE of 50 members ... plus we had four standbys who showed up and attended.

      A warm welcome to five first-time attendees Catherine Uy, Paul, Rhonda, Rica and Sarah.

      1 · December 1, 2013

    • Rica

      Belinda, I really appreciate being part of this once in a lifetime experience! from the bottom of my heart. THANK YOU! will look forward in the next meet up!

      December 1, 2013

  • janet m.

    A magnificent 5 star performance. Thank you John for the fabulous history lesson from the beginning to present time. The theatre has always been a source of entertainment for my family. Just scrolling thru the book, Royal Alexandra Theatre, A Celebration of 100 Years is already bringing back memories of Mirvish's accomplishments. A most sincere THANK YOU John for this treasure. Also, thank you for signing the book.
    Thank you Belinda, for organizing this tour. You have outdone yourself, again.

    December 1, 2013

  • Catherine A

    Belinda, thank you and John so much for all the effort you both put into such a special event. It was a treat to see behind the curtains to glimpse how the presenters, actors and musicians turn written words and music into the magical experiences they create. I've already started the book, which is terrificly well written. Thank you so much.

    December 1, 2013

  • michelle

    An absolutely great insiders look into two wonderful theatres! A big thanks to Belinda for organizing and to John for taking time out of his Saturday morning to give us such a special experience.

    December 1, 2013

  • Chelsea

    I really can't say enough how thankful I am to have been a part of such a wonderful event. John did a fantastic job of taking us around, and being able to learn about the history and traditions of the theatres as well as get a glimpse of backstage was truly special. Thank you so much Belinda for arranging this!

    December 1, 2013

  • Pam

    This was an excellent event. I'm so grateful to have been included.

    December 1, 2013

  • Catherine U.

    What more is there to say but thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! Belinda, thank you for starting this group and organizing this event. And thank you, John, for being our gracious guide! I've been to so many shows at each of the theatres, but now, I will never look at the Royal Alex and the Princess of Wales the same way again. The theatres are as dazzling as the shows on stage! Again, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

    November 30, 2013

  • Ran

    This was a very unique and wonderful experience, especially because I have an Architecture background. John took us through the past and the present with his picturesque decriptions and insights that made us live through each one of the moments in the life of these theaters. I am also humbled by the dedication and passion that Belinda pours into the organization of this event. This was a very memorable day thanks to John and Belinda.

    November 30, 2013

  • james m.

    Thanks , John , for a memorable ,unique , interesting trip through the theatres' inner workings as well as the book.. It giave us an even greater appreciation of the final artistic product.

    November 30, 2013

  • Glen N.

    This was definitely a 5-star event: A star to Belinda for visualizing and manifesting this dream of hers; a star to John for his informative and passionate presentation, reflecting his long association with Mirvish; a star to the elegant Grande Dame The Royal Alex; a star to her modern and stylish descendant The Princess Of Wales; and, dare I say, the fifth star to us, the group, who love theatre and support these special events. This tour ably demonstrated the myriad efforts which go into making a show and producing the magic which can move and delight us. That gorgeous book was the icing on the cake - complete with photos by Edward Burtynsky, many fascinating historical facts, and amusing anecdotes about such personalities as Tallulah Bankhead and Marion Lorne. Thanks again, Belinda, for a memorable event!

    November 30, 2013

  • JoAnne

    This tour was a fabulous treat. We are at the theatre so often and it was wonderful to be able to take pictures of such great venues. (Not allowed to take pictures at any time even before the curtain goes up.) Thank you to John for sharing so much of the history and the insider stories. They tour itself was fantastic, and then to be blessed with such a beautiful commemorative book was icing on an already sweet cake. Thanks so much to Belinda and John. Very much apprecaited.

    November 30, 2013

  • Anna

    I felt so privileged to have been able to participate in such a rare tour of two of Toronto’s most prestigious theatres, especially to walk the mysterious corridors of the backstage areas. Quite an eye opener! Thank you Belinda for all your efforts in organizing such a treat for your theatre group and also immense gratitude to John for your very enlightening and entertaining walk down our city’s collective memory lane. And it’s not every day that someone suddenly gifts us such a beautiful commemorative book. Santa came early! It was truly special! Makes me want to come to the theatre much more often! Thank you!!

    November 30, 2013

  • Wendy

    What a treat! A big thank-you to John for the wonderful tour and pleasant surprise, and to Belinda for organizing!

    November 30, 2013

  • Christa

    What a fabulous treat! We were so lucky to see all the beauty of both theatres. Thanks to both Belinda and John!

    November 30, 2013

  • Shannon H.

    Really interesting and I felt very lucky to attend.

    November 30, 2013

  • Richard T.

    What a great time. To hear the History. See the details that go on to see a live show. Thank you, Belinda for doing this for us. Much thanks to John for your time. I know everyone had a good time.

    November 30, 2013

  • Julianne

    With deep gratitude. John was very informative and entertaining. Thanks for providing such a unique experience.

    November 30, 2013

  • ellen h.

    A delight, hearing the history, the backstage tour, costumes , greasepaint and experiencing where the magic is made. Great tour, kudos to John for the storytelling and to Belinda for putting it together

    November 30, 2013

  • Anne O

    Hello Belinda,
    Thank you for the Spectacular Saturday morning event.
    It was a privilege for us to visit the Royal Alexandra Theatre and Princess of Wales Theatre.
    I really enjoyed John's tour and history of each theatre. His wit and delight in the telling of the history made it all the more memorable. Then we get a bonus of a lovely book. Wow!!!
    The elegance and beauty of the older Royal Alex is always so lovely.
    Of course the Princess of Wales has it's own elegance and modern edge.
    The morning tours were indeed a Rare Treat !!!
    Thanks to Belinda and John for their generosity and time.
    Cheers
    Anne

    November 30, 2013

  • Rica

    This experience is such a gem! I can't imagine doing another backstage tour ever in my life. There is so much history in Princess of Wales and Royal Alex Theatres. John was an amazing tour guide and an entertainer as well with his wit and humor. This has been one of the best rare experience ever!!! Thanks Belinda for organizing the event. This experience will never be forgotten. Looking forward to next meetup events.

    PS: Really appreciate the Royal Alex's 100 years coffee book giveaway! Just like when Oprah does it on her show! What a surprise! Made our day even more memorable.

    November 30, 2013

  • Juli

    What a fascinating insight into the history and the inner workings of these 2 beautiful theatres. Thank you to Belinda for organizing and to John for delivering this information in such an interesting and entertaining way. I am amazed how much I learned today!

    November 30, 2013

  • William

    Fantastic experience!!! This was my 1st of many meetups with this wonderful group :)

    November 30, 2013

  • Eugene M

    Great tour - nice to hear (and see!) some of the history associated with these great theatres. Belinda - thanks a lot for arranging this.

    November 30, 2013

  • Brenda H.

    John did a great job of presenting the history and insider stories of 2 very different Mirvish theatre jewels. Getting to stand on stage and go behind the scenes was indeed a rare treat! Thanks Belinda for organizing the event. Two thumbs up!

    November 30, 2013

  • Liza P.

    Still smiling, an amazing morning :)

    November 30, 2013

  • Ed K.

    Thanks for Belinda for arranging and John (Mirvish) for hosting the tour.
    Really interesting and informative. Great to be able to get a behind the scenes look at the theatres. As was the case with John at the North York library a couple of weeks ago....never enough time to talk about everything of interest.

    November 30, 2013

  • Carolyn

    What a wonderful tour! Thank you so much Belinda and John. A marvellous treat indeed!

    November 30, 2013

  • Keith

    Thank you Belinda for organising. It was a real treat! Simply amazing!

    November 30, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Absolutely fascinating and fabulous. Thank you Belinda for arranging this!

    November 30, 2013

  • Shannon H.

    Thank you Belinda for arranging what was a true once in a lifetime treat for any theatre fan!!!! You are amazing.

    1 · November 30, 2013

  • Belinda

    I am pleased to announce five standbys from our waiting list. Congratulations to Barbara, Ellen, Ran, Rhonda and Sarah. All have excellent chances of going on tomorrow morning's backstage tours!

    1 · November 29, 2013

  • Armand B.

    Would love to join last minute if there's still room. Great way to meet the community.

    November 29, 2013

  • roslyn o.

    Hi Belinda,

    I am so upset. I'm full of cold (or something like it). I kept thinking tomorrow I'll be o.k. to go. But now it's Friday and I have to say I can't come in keeping with the 24 hours notice. Perhaps I would be o.k. Saturday but I can't take a chance when others want so badly to go. It sounds terrific. Enjoy. Wish I could be there.

    Roslyn.

    November 29, 2013

  • Glen N.

    To fellow Thumbs Up members: After following the ongoing dialogue re the theatre tour, I wanted to weigh in with a few observations. If one gets to know Belinda throught the group, and how she operates, one realizes that she has the utmost integrity in her desire to share the theatre experience, and dealing with such a large and diverse group can pose its challenges. She follows sensible rules and has learned from experience when to enforce them. She also lays out the conditions for each event on the events page and it is up to each of us to understand them and not to make assumptions. I didn't know for sure if I would be accepted on the list, even though I signed up in good time. I respect Belinda's judgment and methods and I was sorry to see the angry e-mails emerge. Very few events are this limited and thus it is entirely appropriate that Belinda set the conditions.

    6 · November 25, 2013

    • Amy

      Exclusive events, like this backstage tour, is a privilege and not a right. Belinda will allot perks fairly and equitably--always has.

      2 · November 26, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I have been a member of this group for about a year. I did get a Mirvish subscription with the group this year, and feel very lucky and appreciative to have been approved for the tour. Having said that, I can't imagine how much work Belinda has done to arrange all the discounts and special deals she has for our group. These kinds of deals, for all the plays, do not happen without a lot of legwork and phonecalls....relationsh­ips must be built with constant contact. People who just partake, have no idea how much time it takes to coordinate this kind of group, or any volunteer group, for that matter, Yes, you might not have been allowed to go on this tour, but day after day, you are offered great discounts for countless theatre experiences. Just give thanks that someone cares enough to do this. How many of you would be willing to ive that much time to a bunch of strangers?

      6 · November 26, 2013

  • Belinda

    @ Joanne: I provided instructions in my email yesterday to send your email to me by clicking on my name BELINDA. My name contained a link to the email form on my profile.

    November 26, 2013

  • joanne

    How do you send personal notes...I tried writing you,but there no email or is there?...I can't seem to find it.

    November 26, 2013

  • Belinda

    Eleven new and/or low-attendance members have been moved from the waiting list to the CONFIRMED attendees' list. They have filled 11 attendees' spots I was keeping on reserve for deserving newbies/low-attendance members. All of these members sent me lovely notes in response to my message yesterday seeking standbys. None of these members have any no-shows on their records and none posted any negative comments. Congratulations to Anne, Catherine Uy, Ellen Hill, Joseph, Juli, Katherine Yu, Mindy Zeifman, Paul, Rica, Tricia B and William!

    1 · November 26, 2013

  • Richard T.

    Thank you Glen. Well said.

    1 · November 26, 2013

  • Belinda

    @ Caroline: If you attend some Thumbs Up meetups, and maintain good attendance, you will become eligible for perks like this tour. But some low-attendance members are going to be allowed on this tour. I've received about a half-dozen very nice emails today from waiting list members, some of them new members, almost all of whom are likely going to get a spot on these tours. It is never possible to say how many spots there will be for low-attendance members at a limited-attendance event until the number of members who sign up and their records are known. For example, if only two dedicated members signed up for these tours, there would be 48 spots available for everyone else. Your chances of going on these tours would have been a great deal better if you had sent me a nice private message telling me why you wanted to atend, rather than continued to publicly post your frustrations on this event page. Positive action is generally the best approach.

    November 25, 2013

    • Caroline

      I understand. I genuinely wish you guys have a great time at the tour. I'm sure it will be very fascinating and memorable

      November 25, 2013

  • Andrew

    I wish I could join you guys, but I'll be out of town. And for those guys and gals complaining about the exclusivity or inclusivity, I am with Belinda and the other organizers. People have been signing up for meetup and not show, or check in with the organizer at the show have been very prevalent in the past, and we really need to get a handle on the "no-show" situation. It takes a lot of effort to organize the meetup, and the organizers of meetups (especially this one) do not get their fair recognition. I have no issue with those who had better than avg or excellent attendance records have better chance at attending events, and I feel that they should. I just thought I'd share my two cents.

    1 · November 25, 2013

  • Ieva

    I just wanted everybody to know that I really appreciate the effort that Belinda makes in getting us discounts and special treats, and I am really sorry that she has received so much flack over this one from people that have not attended any of her events before or have not paid their fee for attending.

    3 · November 25, 2013

  • Belinda

    @ Caroline: I cannot target invitations, as you propose. The confirmation you received was automatically sent by Meetup, not by me. I have no control over those notifications going out. The criteria for who would receive priority was CLEARLY written on this event. The concept of a DEDICATED member receiving priority is very straightforward. It would be extremely unfair to give priority to members who have low or poor attendance or who owe meetup fees ... simply because they clicked on the RSVP button first. Not all members have access to a Smart Phone or are constantly online. The 50 spots for this event filled in under 3 hours when it was posted. Many of our dedicated members didn't go online until later and have missed out if they weren't given priority. Dedicated members deserve priority. Both you and Matt have only attended one meetup in my group. I have invited you to apply as standbys, but it seems you both prefer to publicly criticize rather than take positive action to apply.

    November 25, 2013

    • Caroline

      Hi Belinda, sorry I don’t mean to blatantly criticize. It was meant as a constructive criticism/suggestion but perhaps my frustration was taking over. I guess just by saying priority is given to regulars/dedicated members, I take it that it’s from a waiting list.
      I completely understand that dedicated members deserve priority. But even if I go to every event moving forward, events like these will rarely ever be open to the latecomers like me because there’s already a lot of dedicated ones. It will be the same top dedicated members that will get them.
      In the future, when possible, can you let us know how many spots are available? So I can get a better idea of my chances of getting in. Also to state that RVSP is not a “guarantee” that we got it, I would appreciate it. Thanks

      November 25, 2013

  • Caroline

    Belinda,

    i really appreciate this exclusive event being open to the members but I hate to say I am disappointed by the way it was handled. I was one of the early people who RSVP as soon as I see the posting (Under 20?). When I see that it is confirmed yes on my part, i cleared my schedule for this. When you said priority will be given to the regulars, I understood as priority will be given to the regulars from the waitlist as soon as one of us (who have RSVP) backs out.

    otherwise, honestly, what is the point of confirming yes early if we're going to get booted out anyways? I hate to say it but this is basically preferential treatment. I suggest you should let us know how many spots are available, and invite the regulars first, then open up to the rest of us afterwards. I would have been fine with it

    PS. I've been vigilant to ensure that I'm on the list, and then all of a sudden I'm on a waitlist. I hope you understand why I am disappointed with the current method being used. ty

    November 25, 2013

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