In the Heights
|In the Heights|
|Book||Quiara Alegría Hudes|
2009 North American Tour
2014 Off-West End
2015 West End
|Awards||Tony Award for Best Musical
Tony Award for Best Score
Tony Award for Best Orchestrations
Tony Award for Best Choreography
Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical
Lortel Award for Best Musical
Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album
Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music
In the Heights is a musical with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes. The story is set over the course of three days, involving characters in the largely Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City.
After productions at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Connecticut (2005) and Off-Broadway (2007), the show opened in a Broadway production in March 2008. This production was nominated for thirteen Tony Awards, winning four: Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler), and Best Orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman). It won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. It was also nominated for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
- 1 Background
- 2 Productions
- 2.1 Connecticut (2005) and off-Broadway (2007) tryouts
- 2.2 Broadway (2008–2011)
- 2.3 North American Tour (2009–2011)
- 2.4 Manila, Philippines (2011)
- 2.5 Non-Equity US Tour (2011–2012)
- 2.6 Panama City, Panama (2013) and São Paulo, Brazil (2014)
- 2.7 Off-West End, United Kingdom (2014)
- 2.8 Tokyo, Japan (2014) and Melbourne, Australia (2015)
- 2.9 West End, United Kingdom (2015–2017)
- 2.10 Vancouver, Canada and Seoul, South Korea (2015)
- 2.11 Perú (2016)
- 2.12 Chicago (2016)
- 3 Characters
- 4 Plot Summary
- 5 Musical numbers
- 6 Casts
- 7 Awards and nominations
- 8 Reception
- 9 Film adaptation
- 10 Television
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Miranda wrote the earliest draft of In the Heights in 1999, his sophomore year of college. After the show was accepted by Wesleyan University's student theater company Second Stage, Miranda worked on adding "freestyle rap ... bodegas, and salsa numbers." It played from April 27 to April 29, 2000. After seeing the play, three Wesleyan seniors and one alumnus, John Buffalo Mailer, Neil Stewart, Anthony Veneziale and Thomas Kail, approached Miranda and asked if the play could be expanded with a view to a Broadway production. In 2002, Miranda and Mailer worked with director Kail and wrote five separate drafts of In the Heights.
Connecticut (2005) and off-Broadway (2007) tryouts
A new version of In the Heights was presented at the National Music Theater Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut in 2005, directed by Thomas Kail and with music director Alex Lacamoire. The cast featured: Natalie Cortez, Janet Dacal, Robin De Jesus, Huey Dunbar, Christopher Jackson, Doreen Montalvo, Javier Muñoz, Rick Negron, Sheena Marie Ortiz, Matt Saldivar, Monica Salazar, and Nancy Ticotin 
It then opened at the Off-Broadway 37 Arts Theater, running from February 8, 2007, through July 15, 2007. Directed by Thomas Kail, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and music direction by Alex Lacamoire, it was produced by Jill Furman, Kevin McCollum, Jeffrey Seller and Sander Jacobs. The Off-Broadway production was nominated for nine Drama Desk Awards, winning two, as well as winning the Outer Critics' Circle Award for Outstanding Musical.
The musical premiered on Broadway, starting in previews on February 14, 2008, with an official opening on March 9, 2008, at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The Broadway production was again directed and choreographed by Kail and Blankenbuehler, with most of the off-Broadway principals reprising their roles. The creative team included set design by Anna Louizos, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Acme Sound Partners, arrangements and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman, and music coordination by Michael Keller.
The producers announced on January 8, 2009, that the show had recouped its $10 million investment after 10 months. The cast recording was released on June 3, 2008, by Ghostlight Records and won the 51st Annual Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album, beating the recordings of The Little Mermaid, Young Frankenstein, and the revivals of Gypsy and South Pacific. The Broadway production celebrated its 1000th performance on August 2, 2010.
The Broadway production closed on January 9, 2011, after 29 previews and 1,184 regular performances. The final cast starred Lin-Manuel Miranda, Arielle Jacobs, Marcy Harriell, Shaun Taylor-Corbett, Olga Merediz, Andréa Burns, Christopher Jackson, Tony Chriroldes and Priscilla Lopez. Jon Rua starred as Graffiti Pete and understudied for the roles of Usnavi and Sonny for a large portion of 2010.
North American Tour (2009–2011)
The first national tour of In the Heights began on October 27, 2009, in Tampa, Florida. The musical ran in San Juan, Puerto Rico in November 2010, the first time an Equity tour has played in the city. Librettist Hudes and songwriter-star Miranda are both of Puerto Rican descent. Miranda played this engagement. The tour closed on April 3, 2011, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida. At the time of its closing, the tour starred Joseph Morales as Usnavi.
Manila, Philippines (2011)
The international premiere ran in Manila, Philippines from September 2 to September 18, 2011. The new production was directed by Bobby Garcia and starred Nyoy Volante as Usnavi, Ima Castro as Vanessa, K-La Rivera as Nina Rosario, Felix Rivera as Benny, Calvin Millado as Kevin Rosario, Jackie Lou Blanco as Camila Rosario, Tex Ordoñez as Daniela, Tanya Manalang as Carla, and Jay Glorioso as Abuela Claudia. The show had a repeat run in March 2012.
Non-Equity US Tour (2011–2012)
A non-Equity United States national tour of In The Heights ran from October 17, 2011, until June 2012. The tour played in Chicago in January 2012, with Virginia Cavaliere as Nina, Presilah Nunez as Vanessa, Kyle Carter as Benny, and Perry Young as Usnavi.
Panama City, Panama (2013) and São Paulo, Brazil (2014)
In Panama, Carnaval del Barrio (In the Heights) was staged at the famed Teatro en Círculo, from the 3rd to the 31st of October, 2013, produced by Top Line Events and directed by Aaron Zebede, who also adapted the book and songs to Spanglish, which worked perfectly for a Panamanian audience. Jose "Pepe" Casis was the musical director, who also played the part of Piragua Guy.
The Brazilian premiere of Nas Alturas was staged at Teatro Bradesco from 17 April until 25 May 2014. The cast featured Myra Ruiz (Nina), Ricardo Marques (Benny), Mauro Gorini (Kevin), Germana Guilherme (Camila), Renata Brás (Daniela), Milena Martines (Carla), Lola Fanucchi (Vanessa), Thiago Vianna (Graffiti) and Rafael Dantas (Piragua Guy).
Off-West End, United Kingdom (2014)
The UK premiere of In The Heights was staged at Southwark Playhouse from May 9 until June 7, 2014. The cast featured Sam Mackay as Usnavi, Christina Modestou as Nina, David Bedella as Kevin Rosario and Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as Daniela, with direction by Luke Sheppard.
Tokyo, Japan (2014) and Melbourne, Australia (2015)
The Australian premiere of In The Heights, produced by StageArt, opened at Chapel Off Chapel on 20 Feb and ran for a short season of 21 shows, closing on 8 March. Directed by James Cutler, Musical Direction by Cameron Thomas and choreographed by Yvette Lee, the show received overwhelming critical acclaim.
West End, United Kingdom (2015–2017)
In the Heights transferred to the King's Cross Theatre, London on October 3, 2015. The production was directed by Luke Sheppard, choreographed by Drew McOnie with musical supervision by Tom Deering. The production was nominated for four awards at the 2016 Olivier Awards: Best New Musical, Best Theatre Choreographer (Drew McOnie), Outstanding Achievement in Music and Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical (David Bedella). The performance of the production at the Olivier Awards was introduced by Jonathan Groff, in character as King George from Miranda's musical Hamilton. The production closed on January 8, 2017, after a hugely successful run; with several extensions from its initial 4 month limited run. The final show was concluded with speeches by actor Sam Mackay and producer Paul Taylor Mills, and a surprise appearance by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Vancouver, Canada and Seoul, South Korea (2015)
The Canadian premiere of In the Heights, produced by The Arts Club, opened at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage on May 6, 2015. Directed by Bill Millerd with co-direction and choreography by Lisa Stevens and musical direction by Ken Cormier. The cast featured Luc Roderique as Usnavi, Elena Juatco as Vanessa, Kate Blackburn as Nina, Chris Sams as Benny, Sharon Crandall as Abuela Claudia, Caleb Di Pomponio as Sonny, Francisco Trujillo as Kevin, Caitriona Murphy as Camila, Irene Karas Loeper as Daniela, Julia Harnett as Carla, Michael Culp as Graffiti Pete and Michael Antonakos as Piragua Guy.
The South Korean production opened in the Samsung Card Hall, Blue Square, Seoul on September 4, 2015. The production was scheduled to star numerous K-Pop and hip hop musicians including Jeong Won-young, Yang Dong-geun, Jang Dongwoo of Infinite, and Key from Shinee as Usnavi, Seo Kyeong-su, Kim Sung-kyu of Infinite, and Chen from EXO as Benny, and Kim Bo-kyeong, Luna of f(x) as Nina.
Los Productores presented In the Heights during the first months of 2016. The premiere took place on January 20, 2016, at Luigi Pirandello theater amid allegations of racism. The composition of the cast does not match those characteristics that the original work proposed. While the original work proposed racial diversity as an essential feature, the Peruvian version has a cast composed mainly of actors with white ancestry and not one single actor with native indigenous background. Gisela Ponce de León, a member of the cast, said, "Peruvians are experts in self-managed racism."
Porchlight Music Theater presented In the Heights from September 9, 2016, through December 31, 2016. The show received attention and had an extended run, probably due to a combination of strong reviews, the recent opening of the Chicago production of Hamilton and attention from the controversial casting of an Italian actor in the lead role of Dominican-American Usnavi, however the 21 other cast members were all Latino or people of color. The show took place at the Stage 773 building in the Lakeview neighborhood.
- Usnavi de la Vega is the narrator of the play's exposition and a major character throughout; he is the owner of a small bodega in Washington Heights. He was named after one of the first sights his parents saw when they arrived in America, a ship with the sign "US Navy" on it. Abuela Claudia, the neighborhood matriarch, "practically raised" him when his parents both died during his early childhood. He dreams of returning to the Dominican Republic, the place he was born, but left too young for him to remember. He is in love with Vanessa. [Originally played by Lin-Manuel Miranda.]
- "Abuela" Claudia is the loving matriarch of the barrio who knows everybody and is like a grandmother to all ("abuela" means "grandmother" in Spanish). She is the one who looked after Usnavi when his parents died. She and her mother moved from Cuba to New York in 1943 while she was a child. She worked as a maid for several years but never earned the money for her and her mother to travel home. [Originally played by Olga Merediz.]
- Vanessa is Usnavi's love interest who works at Daniela's salon. She is stunningly beautiful and catches the eye of every guy in the Heights, however she takes interest in Usnavi. She lives with an alcoholic mother and dreams of getting out of the Barrio and getting an apartment downtown, but cannot yet afford it. [Originally played by Karen Olivo]
- Nina Rosario is the first in her family (and from the Barrio) to go to college (Stanford University), and everyone in the barrio admires her as the "one who made it out." However, she returns home from school for the summer to reluctantly tell her parents that she has become overburdened and dropped out. She is the typical "good girl" and always got along with her parents. Now, though, she loses patience constantly over her father's over protectiveness and his refusal to accept Benny, with whom she gets into a romantic relationship. [Originally played by Mandy Gonzalez]
- Benny works at the dispatch of Nina's father, Kevin. The only character in the play who does not speak Spanish and is not Hispanic, Benny falls in love with Nina. He dreams of opening his own business. [Originally played by Christopher Jackson.]
- Sonny de la Vega is Usnavi's sassy, superficially lazy, yet ambitious younger cousin who works with Usnavi in the bodega. He is typically the jokester of the Barrio, but he also has an intelligent and thoughtful side that yearns for social justice. [Originally played by Robin de Jesus.]
- Daniela is the outrageously dramatic owner of the salon where the neighborhood girls come to gossip. She is very bold and loud and loves to banter. [Originally played by Andrea Burns.]
- Carla works at Daniela's salon along with Vanessa, and is Daniela's close friend; young and pretty, but a little slow to get the others' jokes and innuendos, she is of Chilean, Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican descent. [Originally played by Janet Dacal.]
- Kevin Rosario is Nina's overprotective father, who, coming from a long line of farmers, has worked hard to resist following in his own father's footsteps. He now owns his own taxi cab service: Rosario's. [Originally played by Carlos Gomez.]
- Camila Rosario is Nina's strong-willed mother, who wants what is best for Nina. She is typically tolerant of Kevin's control issues, but in the course of the show, reveals her real feelings. [Originally played by Priscilla Lopez]
- The Piragua Guy (Piragüero) is the owner of a small piragua stand that competes with Mister Softee. [Originally played by Eliseo Roman.]
- Graffiti Pete is a graffiti artist and friend of Sonny. Usnavi believes he is a trouble-making vandal, until Pete reveals his amazing skills as an artist. [Originally played by Seth Stewart.]
Plot Summary 
At the crack of dawn, on the hottest day of summer, Usnavi chases away a graffiti artist from his tiny bodega in Washington Heights, opens the store, and introduces the major characters ("In the Heights"). Last to appear is Nina Rosario, back from her freshman year at Stanford University, who readies herself to give her parents some bad news ("Breathe"). Meanwhile, Nina's parents, Kevin and Camila, seek an emergency loan to keep their struggling taxi dispatch afloat, temporarily leaving Benny, a young employee and friend of Nina's, in charge; the two reconnect ("Benny's Dispatch").
At the hair salon across the street, Vanessa, Usnavi's potential love interest, dreams of escaping to a studio apartment in the West Village, remaining optimistic despite her own financial insecurity ("It Won't Be Long Now"). When Vanessa stops by Usnavi's bodega, Usnavi's younger cousin Sonny asks her out to a romantic evening on Usnavi's behalf, and she accepts.
Nina's parents return and she reveals how she lost her academic scholarship and dropped out of Stanford. Kevin is devastated that he cannot provide for his daughter ("Inútil"). Nina seeks comfort from Vanessa, but the salon owner and local gossip, Daniela, sits Nina down for a makeover, coercing Vanessa into admitting that she cares about Usnavi's decisions; Nina then reveals to the salon that she has dropped out ("No Me Diga").
After Usnavi discovers that he sold a winning lottery ticket worth $96,000, everyone on the block dreams of how they would each spend the small fortune ("96,000"). Later, Abuela Claudia—the beloved neighborhood matriarch who "practically raised" Usnavi as a young orphan—reflects on her childhood journey from Cuba to New York in 1943, showing the audience that she secretly holds the winning lottery ticket ("Paciencia y Fe").
Nina and Benny take a tour of the neighborhood and reminisce, sharing romantic feelings ("When You're Home"). The local Piragua Guy comes out and sings a song in an attempt to sell his piragua ("Piragua"). Later, at a dinner party, Kevin announces that he has sold the family car service to pay for Nina's tuition. Vanessa and Usnavi then enter a dance club for their date, followed by a furious Benny, who is now out of work, and an apologetic Nina; tensions rise on the dance floor because Vanessa and Usnavi are attempting to make each other jealous, while Benny drunkenly hits a man dancing with Nina ("The Club"). The entire club breaks out into a huge fight when, suddenly, the power goes out throughout the city, probably due to the intense summer heat. The neighborhood erupts into chaos and Usnavi, Vanessa, Nina and Benny all look for each other in the darkness. Meanwhile, Sonny and his mischievous friend from the opening of the show, Graffiti Pete, attempt to distract the bodega from any potential looters by setting off fireworks obtained in preparation for the Fourth of July; at the same time, Abuela Claudia reveals to Usnavi that she won the lottery, while Nina and Benny find each other, argue, and then kiss ("Blackout").
Benny and Nina spend the night together and it is now the morning of the Fourth of July. Nina teaches Benny some Spanish phrases, while he shares his stress over what Kevin will think of their new relationship ("Sunrise"). Down on the street, Usnavi's bodega has been looted. Abuela Claudia convinces Usnavi they should use her lottery winnings to move to Usnavi's homeland: the Dominican Republic, encouraging him to 'find his island'. Usnavi agrees to pursue this lifelong dream at last ("Hundreds of Stories").
Nina's parents have been searching for Nina. When they learn she was with Benny, Kevin is furious. Kevin vows that Benny will never be a part of the Rosario family because he is not Latino, but Camila ends the family fight ("Enough"). It is high noon and all are frustrated by the extreme heat and continuing power outage. The locals, led by Daniela, muster enough energy for a last celebration before the bodega, salon, and dispatch shut their doors forever. Vanessa complains about having been abandoned by Usnavi during the blackout the previous night, and Daniela finally snaps, telling the whole neighborhood "we all know that (Usnavi) loves you". Usnavi publicly announces that Abuela Claudia won the lottery, and he and she will soon leave for the Dominican Republic; the neighborhood celebrates, though Vanessa is heartbroken, and Sonny feels abandoned. When Daniela publicly gossips about Benny and Nina's night together, Sonny snaps, having a crush on Nina himself, and goes into a rant about how once "they close the bodega, the neighborhood is gone". Usnavi comforts him, revealing that he and Claudia plan to split the money three ways- a third for Abuela, a third for Usnavi, and a third for Sonny. Quelling Sonny's fears of it being their last time all together, Usnavi manages to rally the block for a huge blowout ("Carnaval del Barrio"). Kevin makes a sudden announcement over the taxi radios: Abuela Claudia has died ("Atención"). The neighborhood holds a vigil for Claudia, while Usnavi, attributing her death to a "combination of the stress and the heat," makes an impromptu eulogy ("Alabanza"). Usnavi and Nina rummage through boxes of Claudia's keepsakes ("Everything I Know"). As Nina discovers photographs from her own high school graduation, she decides to accept her father's sacrifice and return to Stanford.
Across the street, as Daniela closes her salon, she reveals one last bit of juicy news: she will co-sign on Vanessa's dream apartment in the West Village, thanks to a little convincing from Usnavi ("No Me Diga" – Reprise). Meanwhile, the Piragua Guy's rival, Mr. Softee, is unable to sell due to his truck being broken down, and Piragua Guy celebrates the flourishing of his business ("Piragua" – Reprise). Vanessa brings a bottle of champagne to thank Usnavi and, though she flirts with him, he is so flustered by Claudia's death that he is unable to appreciate Vanessa's attempts; Vanessa finally kisses him and leaves ("Champagne"). Meanwhile, Benny worries about his relationship with Nina, since her decision to go back west, and they stand together while the sun sets, uncertain of their future ("When the Sun Goes Down").
The next morning, Usnavi wakes up early to begin closing up shop. In just a few weeks, Usnavi imagines that the block will be completely changed. Sonny, however, has commissioned Graffiti Pete to paint a mural of Abuela Claudia on the bodega's grate. Sonny now rolls down the bodega grate in front of Usnavi, revealing the memorial. Usnavi is stunned that they completed this all in one night; he tells Sonny to spread the news that he has changed his mind to stay, promises to pursue Vanessa, and realizes that "I've found my island, I've been on it this whole time- I'm home!" ("Finale").
† Designates number not included on original cast recording
|Character||Opening Broadway Cast||Closing Broadway Cast||Notable Broadway
|Original London Cast||Closing London Cast|
|Usnavi||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Javier Muñoz
|Stephen Lopez / Antony Talia||Sam Mackay|
|Nina||Mandy Gonzalez||Arielle Jacobs||Janet Dacal
|Anna Francesca Armenia||Lily Frazer||Gabriela Garcia|
|Abuela Claudia||Olga Merediz||N/A||Francesca Arena||Eve Polycarpou||Norma Atallah|
|Carla||Janet Dacal||Courtney Reed||N/A||Sarah Calsiña||Sarah Naudi||Stephanie Rojas|
|Daniela||Andréa Burns||Justina Machado
|Laura Marcucci||Victoria Hamilton-Barritt||Aimie Atkinson|
|Kevin||Carlos Gomez||Rick Négron||Danny Bolero||Clarence Marshall||David Bedella|
|Camila||Priscilla Lopez||N/A||Bianca Bruce||Josie Benson||Juliet Gough|
|Sonny||Robin de Jesús||Shaun Taylor-Corbett||David Del Rio||Andrew Doyle||Cleve September||Damian Buhagiar|
|Benny||Christopher Jackson||Clifton Oliver||James Elmer||Joe Aaron Reid||Arun Blair-Mangat|
|Vanessa||Karen Olivo||Marcy Harriell||N/A||Bianca Baykara||Jade Ewen||Sarah Naudi|
|Piragua Guy||Eliseo Román||Tony Chiroldes||N/A||Gareth Jacobs||Vas Constanti|
|Graffiti Pete||Seth Stewart||N/A||Peter Sette||Antoine Murray-Straughan||Johnny Bishop|
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
Original West End production
|2016||Laurence Olivier Awards|
|Best New Musical||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical||David Bedella||Won|
|Best Theatre Choreographer||Drew McOnie||Won|
|Outstanding Achievement in Music||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Won|
|WhatsOnStage Awards||Best New Musical||Nominated|
|Best Actor in a Musical||Sam Mackay||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Musical||Lily Frazer||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor in a Musical||David Bedella||Won|
|Best Supporting Actress in a Musical||Victoria Hamilton-Barritt||Nominated|
|Best Director||Luke Sheppard||Nominated|
|Best Choreography||Drew McOnie||Nominated|
|Best Set Design||Takis||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Howard Hudson||Nominated|
The reviews for the show were positive to mixed (the median grade of 9 major reviews was "B+"). Charles Isherwood's review in The New York Times said that "when this musical erupts in one of its expressions of collective joy, the energy it gives off could light up the George Washington Bridge for a year or two." Heather Bing of The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote, "Although I was sometimes struggling to keep up with the hip-hop and Spanish-infused lyrics, the exciting set and choreography paired with excellent acting held my interest in the storyline." David Rooney's Variety review said, "That depth of feeling, together with the wit of Miranda's lyrics, the playful dexterity of his rhymes, his dynamic score and a bunch of truly winning performances, make the show an uncalculated charmer."
Hudes' book received mixed reviews. Charles McNulty's The Los Angeles Times review mentioned that "the downside to In the Heights is the book...which is overstuffed and oversimplified." The New York Post's Clive Barnes also gave negative comments about the book, saying that "Hudes' work is droopily sentimental and untruthful." Joe Dziemianowicz of the NY Daily News also disliked the book, but added that "what it lacks in story and believability it makes up for in a vibrant rap- and salsa-flavored score, spirited dances and great-looking design."
After the release of Miranda's next Broadway musical Hamilton, which earned critical and commercial success, In the Heights gained a large resurgence in popularity and a cult following mostly owed to the former show's success, and over the years has gained a much more positive reception than initial reviews from its first few moments on stage.
On November 2008, Universal Studios announced that they planned to adapt the musical as a feature film for release in 2011. Kenny Ortega was set to direct it. However, Universal opted not to produce the film, and the project was canceled. In January 2012, Lin-Manuel Miranda said the adaptation was back under discussion.
In May 2016, it was announced that The Weinstein Company would produce the film. The following month, it was reported that Jon M. Chu was in talks to direct. In September 2016, Chu was confirmed to direct, with production potentially beginning in spring 2017. Lin-Manuel Miranda will not return as Usnavi, the role he originated, but may return in another role. Jay Z will produce the film.
On May 27, 2009, PBS' Great Performances aired an episode entitled In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams. It documents the journey taken by the cast and crew to bring the show to Broadway and to later win the Tony Award for Best Musical. Producer Andrew Fried and director Paul Bozymowski captured footage of the cast and creative team for over two years, from the Off-Broadway production to their Tony Award wins. The special previewed at the Paley Center for Media in New York on May 4, 2009.
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