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2020 Writers and Musicals

Eighteen writers of nine new musicals had week-long virtual residencies to focus solely on writing their musical. Thanks to all our donors, each writer received a $1,000 stipend, reimbursement for food, a Zoom pro subscription, and dramaturgical guidance from a "Peer Advisor" - a member of our Sounding Board of artistic advisors.

You can meet the writers live on YouTube!

Missing Peace

August 2 – August 9

Kyle Puccia and Kalani Queypo, with Lead Support from Steve and Paula Reynolds

Peer Advisor: Donna Lynn Hilton, Producer, Goodspeed Musicals

Against Women and Music!

August 9 – August 16

Kate Douglas and Grace McLean, with Underwriting Support from The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund and Jacqui and Lew Rose

Peer Advisor: Maria Goyanes, Artistic Director, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company


August 16 – August 23

Truth Bachman and Zhailon Levingston, with Underwriting Support from Dave Badtke and Josanna Berkow

Peer Advisor: Maria Goyanes, Artistic Director, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company


August 23 – August 30

Adam Chanler-Berat and Ryan Scott Oliver, with Lead Support from Amy and Roger Faxon

Peer Advisor: Jason Eagan, Artistic Director, Ars Nova

We Will Not Be Silent

June 28 – July 5

Maggie-Kate Coleman and Erato A. Kremmyda, with Lead Support from Lisa Kohl and Ricardo Hornos

Peer Advisor: Kent Nicholson, Associate Producer of Musical Theatre, Playwrights Horizons

The Death of Desert Rose

July 5 - July 12

Elliah Heifetz and Jessica Kahkoska, with Lead Support from Liz Armstrong

Peer Advisor: Rick Boynton, Creative Producer of Chicago Shakespeare Theater

The Dixon Family Album

July 19 – July 26

Andrew R. Butler, Jordan Fein, and Anna Kerrigan, with Lead Support from The Noël Coward Foundation

Peer Advisor: Natasha Sinha, Director of Artistic Programs, Signature Theatre

Half the Sky

July 19 – July 26

Isabella Dawis and Tidtaya Sinutoke, with Underwriting Support from Liz and Bill Mills

Peer Advisor: Mara Isaacs, Founder and Director of Octopus Theatricals


July 26 – August 2

Julian Hornik, with Lead Support from The ASCAP Foundation Bart Howard Fund

Peer Advisor: Kent Nicholson, Associate Producer of Musical Theatre, Playwrights Horizons

Maggie-Kate Coleman and

Erato A. Kremmyda


June 28 - July 5

Erato Kremmyda, We Will Not Be Silent, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Maggie Kate Coleman, We Will Not Be Silent, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Show Synopsis

In 1943, Sophie, a young German student, joins a youth-led anti-Nazi resistance group. She is arrested, tried and executed for denouncing the Nazi regime. In present-day America, the US is under a nationalist regime with uncanny parallels to Germany’s past. Sophie, a young American student, joins a student-led resistance movement. As time and place shift around her, she refuses to be silenced. Based on the life and experiences of Sophie Scholl, WE WILL NOT BE SILENT explores and honors youth resistance past, present, and future.

Peer Advisor

Kent Nicholson, Associate Producer of Musical Theatre, Playwrights Horizons

Maggie-Kate Coleman is a bookwriter, lyricist and the Artistic Director of the Polyphone Festival at UArts in Philadelphia. Recent works include POP! (world premiere Yale Rep, City Theatre starring Anthony Rapp as Andy Warhol, Studio Theatre, etc.); THE GIFT OF THE MAGI with bookwriter Jeffrey Hatcher and composer Andrew Cooke (commissioned by Arkansas Rep).   She is a 2015 MacDowell Fellow and a graduate of NYU.
Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Erato A. Kremmyda is a composer working across genres and countries. Recent work includes: RIOT ANTIGONE (La Mama, Ars Nova), RED WEDNESDAY (Mabou Mines, BRIC Arts Center/ Built for Collapse); IO (International Filippi Festival, Greece); YOUNG LEAR (Teatro Duo, Rome) etc. Ηer work has also been heard at places like Megaron Music Hall (Athens), New York City Center, The Tank, The Bushwick Starr, HERE, Kimmel Center (Philadelphia) etc. She is a Fulbright scholar and an Anna Sosenko Grant recipient.
Together Coleman and Kremmyda are the recipients of the 2017 Jonathan Larson Grant and have collaborated on many musicals, cabarets, and songs for theater.  Their work has been developed through The American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern, the Civilians R&D Group, and residencies at The Orchard Project, Space on Ryder Farm, Ars Nova Writers Retreat, Catwalk Arts Residency, and the Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals.  They previously developed their musical MARIE IN TOMORROW LAND (created in collaboration with director/choreographer Sam Pinkleton) at the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat.

We Will Not Be Silent
The Death of Desert Rose
Elliah Heifetz, The Death of Desert Rose, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Elliah Heifetz and Jessica Kahkoska




July 5 - July 12

Jessica Kahkoska, The Death of Desert Rose, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Show Synopsis

In 1890's Colorado, notorious bounty hunter “Desert Rose” Ramsey receives an order that she must hunt her arch-nemesis (and former companion)— “Betty Britches” McBain—in her most personal bounty yet. With the local Sheriff by her side (“for insurance,”), Rose embarks on a pulp-filled, heart-pounding journey through the Wild West to find Betty and face her fate. As her mysterious past is dredged up, Rose learns the true cost of freedom. THE DEATH OF DESERT ROSE is a new, epic Western for a modern audience, a wild, female-driven tale of outlaw heists, young love, dangerous promises, and hardwon new beginnings.

Peer Advisor

Rick Boynton, Creative Producer of Chicago Shakespeare Theater

ELLIAH HEIFETZ (Lyrics, Music)

Elliah Heifetz is a first-generation American composer, pop songwriter, and folk singer. Theatrical works include THE DEATH OF DESERT ROSE (SBR Productions Commission 2019, DGF Fellows '19-'20); DUST CAN’T KILL ME (NYC Fringe 2014 – Best Music, NYMF 2016 – Best Music); WE ARE PILGRIMS (ASTIR Lab Series, Barn Arts Collective); WILDWOOD (54 Below), among others. Published by The Brain Music, Elliah has collaborated with hit songwriters like Freddy Wexler (Kanye West, Selena Gomez), Dave Kuncio (Dierks Bentley, Steve Aoki), and Neff-U (Dr. Dre, Justin Bieber). Elliah also records and performs original Americana songs (TIDAL 2018 Best Of: Rising Folk/Country). Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project '17, SPACE on Ryder Farm Creative Resident '18. Born to political refugees, Elliah was raised in Philadelphia before studying at Yale.



Jessica Kahkoska is a writer and dramaturg/researcher. Projects include AGENT 355 (with Preston Max Allen, Chautauqua Theater Company, Marion Fellowship Winner), IN HER BONES (2020 Colorado New Play Summit, Denver Center) THE DEATH OF DESERT ROSE (with Elliah Heifetz, Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellowship), LETTERS TO THE PRESIDENT (upcoming at Berkshire Theatre Group), NIA (upcoming New Light Theatre Project), and WILD HOME (Notch Theatre Company). Her work has additionally been developed/presented at The Cooper Union, Ars Nova ANT FEST, Joe’s Pub, Village Theatre, New York Theatre Barn and the Drama League. Dramaturgical work includes new play/musical development Off-Broadway (SAFEWORD., WE ARE THE TIGERS) in NYC (SALAAM MEDINA, THREETIMESFAST) and regionally (the Athena Project, Creede Repertory Theatre). Graduate of Northwestern University.

The Dixon Family Album
Andrew R. Butler, The Dixon Family Album, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Andrew R. Butler, Jordan Fein,

 Anna Kerrigan



July 19 – July 26

Jordan Fein, The Dixon Family Album, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Show Synopsis

Ronnie Dixon, the former child lead singer of the Partridge-esque Dixon Family Band, is beyond excited to leave the halfway house where he’s spent nearly half his life to go on a reunion tour with his siblings. When Ronnie befriends the young son of his therapist and the reunion plans fall through, Ronnie is forced to examine the darker side of his family and his complicated relationship with his father.

Peer Advisor

Natasha Sinha, Director of Artistic Programs, Signature Theatre

Anna Kerrigan, The Dixon Family Album, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

ANDREW R. BUTLER (Lyrics, Music)
Andrew R. Butler is a composer, writer, and performer based in Brooklyn, NY and hailing from the Florida Panhandle. His sci-fi folk musical RAGS PARKLAND SINGS THE SONGS OF THE FUTURE (Ars Nova, dir. Jordan Fein) won the 2019 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding New Musical, made the New York Times' Best Theater of 2018, and was nominated for 9 Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Musical, Book, Lyrics, and Music. The show's cast album is out now from Broadway Records. In 2018 Andrew received The Jonathan Larson Grant for emerging musical theater makers. Andrew's work has been developed at Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Yale Institute for Music Theatre, The Civilians, Ars Nova, Dixon Place, Fresh Ground Pepper, American Music Theatre Project, and the Polyphone Festival.

JORDAN FEIN (Co-Creator, Director)
Jordan Fein is a Brooklyn and London based theater and opera director. Recent credits include Andrew R. Butler’s RAGS PARKLAND SINGS THE SONGS OF THE FUTURE at Ars Nova (2019 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding New Musical, NY Times Best of 2018), DIE TOTE STADT at the 2019 Bard Music Festival, Erin Markey's SINGLET at The Bushwick Starr, Paula Vogel’s INDECENT at Weston Playhouse and the Associate Director on the 2019 Broadway revival of RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN’S OKLAHOMA! (Tony Award for Best Revival). In 2014 Jordan was Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Boris Sagal Fellow, when along with writer, Anna Kerrigan, and composer/lyricist, Andrew Butler, they began development on the new musical, THE DIXON FAMILY ALBUM.


Anna Kerrigan is a Los Angeles-based playwright and filmmaker. Her play THE TALLS premiered at Second Stage in 2011. A Youngblood Alum, she has developed her theater projects at Ensemble Studio Theater, Naked Angels, Space at Ryder Farm and the Williamstown Theater Festival. Her short HOT SEAT and her web series THE CHANCES both premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Her Gotham-nominated digital series THE IMPOSSIBILITIES (2015) was licensed for international distribution by Studio Plus (Canal). She is a Film Independent and Sundance Fellow (2016 New Voices, 2017 Episodic) and her feature COWBOYS, starring Steve Zahn, Jillian Bell and Ann Dowd, which she wrote and directed, was supposed to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival 2020. Kerrigan graduated from Stanford University.


Half the Sky

Isabella Dawis and Tidtaya Sinutoke



July 19 - July 26

Isabella Dawis, Half the Sky, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Tidtaya Sinutoke, Half the Sky, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Show Synopsis

Aurelie sets out to fulfill her childhood dream of summiting Mount Everest, in an expedition of hopeful climbers from around the world, led by a teenage Sherpa. As she grapples with the grueling demands of the mountain, Aurelie finds she must also confront her Thai American family’s past, and the rift which separates her from her younger sister. Borders between countries and cultures, past and present, and waking and dreaming begin to blur. A story about bridging impossible chasms to repair what's broken, in the hope of restoring love.

Peer Advisor

Mara Isaacs, Founder and Director of Octopus Theatricals


Isabella Dawis is a writer, actor, singer, and pianist based in NYC. She is bookwriter/lyricist for the musical HALF THE SKY, an inaugural First Draft Commission from the 5th Avenue Theatre, for which she and composer Tidtaya Sinutoke recently received the Weston-Ghostlight New Musical Award. As a playwright and librettist, Isabella's work has been supported by Musical Theatre Factory, Theater Mu, Theater Latté Da, the O'Neill Center, Town Stages, Central Square Theater, the Skeleton Rep, New England Conservatory, and the Schubert Club. She is a 2019-20 Rockwell Scholar at the Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts. B.M. summa cum laude piano performance, University of Minnesota; Classical Voice, New England Conservatory.


Tidtaya Sinutoke is a Thai born, NYC-based composer. Composition credits: HALF THE SKY (5th Avenue Theatre's First Draft Commission), CLOUDS ARE PILLOWS FOR THE MOON (Yale Institute for Music Theatre, Kilroy's Honorable Mentions), HART ISLAND REQUIEM (The Civilians R&D Group, Polyphone Festival), and WATER IS LIFE (NYMF - How The Light Gets In). She is a recipient of the Composer-Librettists Studio at New Dramatists, Johnny Mercer Songwriter Projects, NYFA IAM Mentoring Program, Robert Rauschenberg Residency, EtM Con Edison Composer-in-Residence, Johnny Mercer Writers Colony, Yale Institute for Music Theatre, Sokoloff Arts Fellowship, Musical Theatre Factory's MAKERS Cohort, Jonathan Larson Grant, and Weston-Ghostlight New Musical Award. A proud member of ASCAP, Dramatists Guild, and Thai Theatre Foundation. BM: Berklee College of Music; MFA: NYU.


Julian Hornik



July 26 - August 2

Julian Hornik, Tenn, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Show Synopsis

A new musical based on the early life of Tennessee Williams. From his years trapped in St. Louis with a family in collapse, to his formative months living in the Old French Quarter of New Orleans, and the careless summer in California that followed, these were the seemingly aimless days of Tom Williams's youth. Meanwhile, his sister Rose, stultified in Missouri by a society—and mother—incapable of grappling with her burgeoning mental health crisis, withdrew into her own mind. Between the years 1932-1939, Rose Williams lost herself; Tom Williams, unleashed to discover who he was and wasn’t, in his wandering found Tennessee. 

Peer Advisor

Kent Nicholson, Associate Producer of Musical Theatre, Playwrights Horizons

JULIAN HORNIK (Book, Lyrics, Music)
Julian Hornik is a Brooklyn-based composer/lyricist and librettist whose work has been performed at, amongst others, the Kennedy Center, New York City Center, Ars Nova, Carnegie Hall, and Walt Disney Hall. His song-cycle commissioned by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus was set to premiere at Davies Symphony Hall in March 2020 (now postponed due to Corona). He has developed shows at the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop and the Johnny Mercer Songwriter’s Project, and is a member of the Orchard Project Greenhouse. Julian is the recipient of the 2017 Lucille and Jack Yellen Award and the 2018 Sammy Cahn Award from the ASCAP Foundation, Yale’s Norman Holmes Pearson Prize, and is a 2020 Jonathan Larson Grant finalist.

Missing Peace

Kyle Puccia and Kalani Queypo



August 2 - August 9

Kalani Queypo, Missing Peace, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Kyle Puccia, Missing Peace, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Show Synopsis

Chase wakes up from a coma, his past a blur. To his family's surprise, Chase is happy and free... until the dark memories begin to flood back like quick cuts of a movie trailer that just don't add up. As Chase grapples with his attempted suicide, bad choices he's made, and the people he's hurt along the way, he begins to work through his pain and heal relationships with those he loves the most. Chase and his family ultimately learn, "You can't change who you were in the past, what you've done in the past, but you can make a decision about what you can do today."

Peer Advisor

Donna Lynn Hilton, Producer, Goodspeed Musicals

KALANI QUEYPO (Book, Lyrics, Music)
Kalani Queypo: Before moving to Los Angeles, Kalani trained in New York City, and was featured on stages all over the country such as the Goodspeed Opera House, Arena Stage, Trinity Repertory Company, Mark Taper Forum, The Wilma, and The Ordway.  He can be seen in the Oscar-nominated Terrence Malick film, THE NEW WORLD, Steven Spielberg’s Emmy winning INTO THE WEST and SLOW WEST (Sundance GRAND JURY PRIZE). Television credits include JAMESTOWN (three seasons series regular), SAINTS & STRANGERS, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD, MAD MEN, NURSE JACKIE, BONES, and HAWAII FIVE-0. Kalani is currently filming the new CBC series, TRICKSTER. A short film written and directed by Kalani, ANCESTOR EYES, screened at nearly 40 festivals and won 14 awards including the Rhode Island International Film Festival’s Directorial Discovery Award. 


KYLE PUCCIA (Book, Lyrics, Music)
Kyle Puccia is a Platinum selling songwriter, composer and musician. His co-write, "Kids In Love", debuted at #1 on Billboard's Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart. Kyle earned a Swedish Grammy nomination in 2018 and his songs have charted on Billboard's Top 40 Hot Dance Club Play & Top 10 UK Commercial Pop Charts. Kyle has composed dozens of scores for Microsoft and T-Mobile commercials and he's garnered song placements on such TV shows/films/brands as HBO, WORLD OF DANCE, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, LEGACIES, THE TITAN GAMES, LOVE ISLAND, SIESTA KEY, THE VINEYARD and NAOMI & ELY'S NO KISS LIST. He's music-directed and/or created vocal arrangements for TV's LUCIFER (Netflix), LA workshop productions for ROCK OF AGES and ROMY & MICHELE'S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION, THE MUSICAL. 


Against Women and Music

Kate Douglas and Grace McLean




August 9 - August 16

Grace McLean, Against Women and Music, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
Kate Douglas, Against Women and Music, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Show Synopsis

In the 19th century, music was considered dangerous for women to play or even hear. Ideas about women's weakness of nerves was pervasive, and music was seen as inflammatory, leading to passions, despair, crime, madness, melancholy, hysteria and more. AGAINST WOMEN & MUSIC! is an anachronistic chamber musical that explores privilege, ambition and morality through the eyes of a female piano tuner in the 1800s.

Peer Advisor

Maria Goyanes, Artistic Director, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

KATE DOUGLAS (Book, Lyrics)

Kate is a writer, director, performer and aspiring beekeeper based in New York City. Her work has been performed at The Met Cloisters, Ars Nova, Joe’s Pub and The McKittrick Hotel and developed at SPACE on Ryder Farm, The Orchard Project, New Victory Theater, Rhinebeck Musicals, The National Theater Institute and the Writers Colony at Goodspeed. She is a Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project Fellow and a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. She is currently a 2019-2020 Dramatists Guild Fellow and a member of the Civilians R&D Group. As a complement to her artistic practice, she is a Master Naturalist and studies herbalism, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy and body literacy.



Grace McLean is an actor, singer, writer and composer. Broadway: Natasha, Pierre... (also Off-Broadway, ART). Off-Broadway: New Group, MCC, LCT3, Public, Vineyard, La MaMa, among others. 2017 Emerging Artist Award, Lincoln Center. Grace McLean & Them Apples performed in the 2015 and 2016 seasons of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook, and Grace toured Pakistan and Russia as an artistic ambassador with the US State Department.  She is a member of the 2020 Civilians R&D Group and a Writer-In-Residence at Lincoln Center Theater where her original musical In The Green was commissioned and produced, earned McLean a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical, and received a 2020 Richard Rodgers Award.

Trevor Bachman, Shapeshifters, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Truth Bachman and Zhailon Levingston



August 16 - August 23

Zhailon Levingston, Shapeshifters, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Show Synopsis

When teenage comic book genius, Mel, runs away from home, they become the leader of an underground tribe of queer superheroes, the Shapeshifters. Dosing an illicit, power-unlocking substance called Antidote Z, the Shapeshifters band together to defeat ancient monsters with a taste for queer blood. But when a time-bending terrorist vows to erase them from history, the Shapeshifters find themselves sprinting toward an uncertain future.  Set to a fresh suite of songs by Truth Bachman, SHAPESHIFTERS is a love legacy to LBTQ+ communities that persist, resist, and survive our living nightmares.

Peer Advisor

Maria Goyanes, Artistic Director, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

TRUTH BACHMAN (Lyrics, Music)

Truth Bachman is a composer, vocalist, and writer of socially-focused musicals. Described by NYTimes as ”musically and vocally rich”, they are praised for “golden-voiced”, “soulful vocals” (Vulture). Bachman’s acclaimed SHAPESHIFTERS, about LGBTQ+ community, was developed at an ongoing residency at Joe’s Pub, The Delacorte Theatre, Musical Theatre Factory, and was the inaugural recipient of the Denovan Grant. FARMED: A LIVE PODCAST ALBUM, Bachman’s musical podcast concert, features a vocally percussive score for 25 voices, and will soon be available where books and audiobooks are sold. Truth is an alum of New Dramatists Composer-Librettist Studio, Joe’s Pub Working Group, and NYU Tisch. Their recent album ‘BLUE RIVER’ features several broadway talents and donates 100% of funds to Arts Education Programs within New York City’s boroughs. @truthbachman


ZHAILON LEVINGSTON (Director, Developer, Dramaturg)

Zhailon Levingston is a Louisiana raised director. He co-founded #WORDSONWHITE, an arts and activism campaign and is an artist in resident for Columbia Law School. He recently directed NEPTUNE at Dixon Place and the Brooklyn Museum, and THE YEARS THAT WENT WRONG by David Zheng at MCC. Other credits: THE EXONERATED at Columbia Law School and CHARIOT PART 2 at SoHo Rep for The Movement Theatre Company. He is the associate director of PRIMER FOR A FAILED SUPER POWER with Tony nominee Rachel Chavkin and RUNAWAYS at The Public with Sam Pinkleton.  He was associate director for the Genesis plays at the 14th street Y! He directed MOTHER OF PEARL at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center and CHICKEN AND BISCUITS at Queens Theatre. Zhailon is currently the US Associate Director of TINA, THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL

Ryan Scott Oliver, Rope, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Adam Chanler-Berat and

Ryan Scott Oliver



August 23 - August 30

Adam Chanler-Berat, Rope, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat

Show Synopsis

On the eve of civil war, in the heart of the big city, two young men from opposite camps--Shy, a blind immigrant, and Clay, a staunch nativist--find their lives colliding and their fates inextricably bound together by way of a magical rope. As tensions boil over in the great melting pot, the two embark on a journey through the country where they must make sense of the man on the other end of the rope...and themselves.

Peer Advisor

Jason Eagan, Artistic Director, Ars Nova


Ryan Scott Oliver was called “the future of Broadway… a major new voice in musical theatre” (Entertainment Weekly) and is “shaking up musical theater with his dark, twisted and genius work” (Huffington Post). He wrote the music and lyrics for JASPER IN DEADLAND (off-Broadway; the 5th Avenue Theatre), 35 MM: A MUSICAL EXHIBITION; DARLING; MRS. SHARP; OTHERBODY, A BRIEF MUSICAL ALLEGORY, HAVANA! with director Warren Carlyle. Winner of a Larson Grant, Rodgers Award, and numerous New Musicals Awards.  He is currently working on an adaptation of HUGO (based on the 2011 Martin Scorsese film) with Christopher Wheeldon and James Harris and Other Daemons by Shirley Jackson, an adaptation of short stories by the acclaimed American Gothic writer. @ryanscottoliver on all platforms.



Adam Chanler-Berat is known for his performances in the original companies of Broadway’s NEXT TO NORMAL and PETER AND THE STARCATCHER as well as Off-Broadway in RENT, FLY BY NIGHT and FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE among others. His play with music, CONTRA, has been workshopped at Ars Nova, was a finalist for Space on Ryder Farm 2018, and a semi-finalist for the 2020 O’Neill Festival New Music Theater Conference.

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