WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Rick Pender 05.11.2012
Posted In: Theater at 09:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
Les Miserables

Stage Door: Musicals Rule the Weekend

I was at the Tuesday night opening of a one-week run of the tour of the 25th anniversary production of Les Misérables. You might be saying, “I’ve seen that before — more than once.” But this is a new version — no more turntable or pirouetting barricades. Now we have some startling video that let’s you see the rebellious students marching in the streets of Paris and Jean Valjean carrying Marius through the sewers. The tour has great voices in all the roles; the volume was amped up beyond my hearing threshold, but it’s a powerful show — after all these years. Through Sunday at the Aronoff Center. Tickets: 800-982-2787. Here’s a tip if you want something that’s new(ish): The Light in the Piazza was a Tony Award winner in 2005, and it’s being staged by one of the most reliable community theaters in the Cincinnati area, Footlighters Inc., at its Stained Glass Theatre in Newport. It’s a romantic love story set in Italy in 1953, told with sophisticated music, sometimes operatic performances. In June 2006, just before it closed, it was broadcast on the PBS Live from Lincoln Center series, drawing more than two million viewers. That many can’t make it to Newport (it runs through May 19), but if you’re interested, Footlighters is offering a “buy one, get one” deal for its 2 p.m. matinee this Sunday, May 13. Tickets: 859-652-3849. If you resonate with the Blues, I recommend that you head to the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park for Keith Glover’s Thunder Knocking on the Door. It’s a revival of sorts from 1999 — but thoroughly and creatively reimagined for the Eden Park’s last mainstage production of Ed Stern’s final season leading the Tony Award-winning theater. The musical — with emotional tunes mostly by Keb’ Mo’ — tells the story of the power of love, music and Blues guitar players. It’s presented with panache, including technology and design that are all about 2012. Through May 20. Box office: 513-421-3888. The Doo-Wop silliness of The Marvelous Wonderettes, a hit from 2010 at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, is brought to life again with Life Could Be A Dream, Roger Bean’s sequel to the story of some bubbly girls who bond around teen hits from the ’50s and ’60s. This time it’s boys, and that’s most of the difference. As in the two Wonderette shows, Dream is shot through with adolescent angst, this time around a local radio station contest that could “make them famous.” It’s an excuse for two dozen tunes from the era, a familiar formula. But ETC’s talented cast makes it a lot of fun. (Through May 20.) Box office: 513-421-3555. This weekend is your final chance to see Know Theatre’s production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. (Final performance is Saturday.) It’s a youthful mix of political commentary, driving Rock, history, humor and sober observations about America’s seventh president — played as a Rock hero. I gave it a Critic’s Pick. Call the box office to see if there are any cancellations: 513-300-5669. Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news.
 
 

One Hell of a Collaboration

0 Comments · Thursday, May 10, 2012
The Rake’s Progress promises to be the first of what CCM staff hope will be regular interactive performances. Visual media is here to stay, says College-Conservatory of Music director Robin Guarino, and a tech-savvy public expects it in their theater experiences.   
by Rick Pender 05.04.2012
Posted In: Theater at 09:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Stage Door: Back For More

If this week’s theater offerings sound familiar, it’s because we’ve seen some of these shows (or their inspirations). The best choice, for my money, is Keith Glover’s Thunder Knocking on the Door at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, a revival of sorts from 1999 — but thoroughly and creatively reimagined for the final mainstage production of Ed Stern’s final season leading the Tony Award-winning theater. It’s a musical about the Blues and it features an emotional Blues score, mostly by Keb’ Mo’, to tell the story of the power of love and music — and blues guitar players. It’s presented with panache, including technology and design that are all about 2012. Through May 20. Box office: 513-421-3888. If you loved the Doo-Wop silliness of The Marvelous Wonderettes, a hit from 2010 at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, then you’re likely to have a good time at Life Could Be A Dream, Roger Bean’s sequel to the story of some bubbly girls who bond around teen hits from the ’50s and ’60s. This time is boys, and that’s most of the difference. As in the two Wonderette shows, Dream is shot through with adolescent angst, in this case around a local radio station contest that could “make them famous.” It’s an excuse for more than two dozen tunes from the same era that are shaped to the story. So it’s a familiar formula, but ETC has a talented cast who make it a lot of fun. (Through May 20.) Box office: 513-421-3555. Another show that totally mastered the art of wedging familiar tunes into an implausible story is Mamma Mia, and you can catch a touring production of that one at the Aronoff Center through Sunday. The cast of this tour has a lot of youthful energy and several mature characters who have fun reminiscing about their disco days. Box office: 800-982-2787. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson will have its final performance on May 12. If you haven’t yet seen this youthful mix of political commentary, driving Rock, history, humor and sober observations about the will of the people, you’d better go this weekend. (The longer you wait the less likely you are to get a ticket — the final weekend is selling fast.) Not many musicals begin with the cast flipping the bird at the audience, but then not many musicals are like this one, spinning a tale of America’s seventh president to in-your-face Indie Rock tunes. This is Bloody Bloody’s first professional regional production. I gave it a Critic’s Pick. Box office: 513-300-5669. You have plenty of time to see The Second City 2: Less Pride – More Pork, since the Cincinnati Playhouse plans to keep it on the Shelterhouse Stage until July 1 (at least), but I predict you’ll enjoy it whenever you go. It’s a notch up from the first iteration of the show that set box-office records for the Mount Adams theater a year-and-a-half ago. Lots of hilarious fun-poking at … us. And the clever cast uniquely tailors every performance to the audience that shows up. Box office: 513-421-3888. Know Theatre’s production of the recent off-Broadway and Broadway Rock musical hit, I was thoroughly entertained by Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat last week at the Covedale. It has a cast of strong singers who do a fine job with the amusing score, stuffed with musical parodies — Calypso, Blues, County, Bubblegum Pop and more — and they’re having an infectious good time. Keep an eye out for the Pharaoh; he’s really the King! Through May 13. Box office: 513-241-6550. Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news.
 
 
by Jac Kern 05.03.2012
Posted In: Performances, Music, Fun, Benefits, Arts, Culture, Events at 10:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Your Thursday To Do List

Alice Skirtz will discuss and sign her new book Econocide: Elimination of the Urban Poor today at Findlay Market’s Skirtz & Johnson. The book looks at how Cincinnati “has used legislation and the administration of public policy to serve the ends of privatizing public assets and displacing people who are perceived as undesirable because they lack economic power and privilege.” Skirtz is also a social worker and founder of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless — proceeds from tonight’s book sales will go to the organization. The signing runs 4:30-6:30 p.m. Women Helping Women is a 24-hour crisis service helping victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. The non-shelter program offers intervention and support services for women — and men — in Southwestern Ohio. Tonight, Sharonville transforms into Oz for Light Up the Night: Emerald City Ball, a benefit for Women Helping Women. Don your best ruby slippers as you enjoy dinner-by-the-bite, Wizard of Oz-themed cocktails, auctions and music — all for a wonderful cause. Tickets should have been reserved in advance. Go here to get involved with the organization by adopting a family, donating or volunteering. Ensemble Theater Cincinnati takes audiences on a “trip down musical memory lane” with its production of Life Could be a Dream, onstage tonight. Fans of ETC’s Wonderettes productions will feel at home with this sock hop-era musical that follows the Crooning Crabcakes as they try to make the big time and win a local radio contest. Sing along to classic hits like “Runaround Sue,” “Earth Angel,” “Unchained Melody” and more tunes from the time. Tickets to tonight’s 7:30 show are $36.Check out our music blog for tonight's live show lineup and our To Do page for more events, art shows and performances.
 
 
by Rick Pender 04.27.2012
Posted In: Theater at 03:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Stage Door: 'Thunder Knocking' and More

Cincinnati Playhouse just opened Thunder Knocking on the Door, a show it staged in 1999 and sold a boatload of tickets — the most for any musical it’s presented in the past two decades! I was there on Thursday night for the opening, and this is a drop-dead gorgeous production — costumes, sets, lighting and sound by Broadway designers, and a cast of five who all have star-power. Even better, they form a wonderful musical ensemble when they need to. Keith Glover’s play is a fable about the Blues: Marvell Thunder is a mystical presence who years earlier lost a “cuttin’ contest” to a fellow named Jaguar Dupree, and now he’s back to even the score “where the two roads meet,” somewhere near Bessemer, Alabama. But Jaguar’s passed, survived by his wife (twice widowed since then) and his twin brother. Her and Jaguar’s twin children, Jaguar Jr. and Glory are musical and each have magical guitars that he bequeathed to them. Jr. has lost his to Thunder, and now he’s coming for the other one. But it’s complicated, because Thunder is turning to stone because it’s been so long since he’s been in love. All this is played out to a wonderful Blues score, most of it by singer and composer Keb’ Mo’. There’s a great band backing them up, and to make this tale all the more magical, among its technical team is an “illusion designer.” You’ll be asking, “How’d they do that?” more than once. I gave it a Critic’s Pick, and you should get your tickets right away. 513-421k-3888. Know Theatre’s production of the recent off-Broadway and Broadway Rock musical hit, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is a youthful mix of political commentary, driving Rock performances, history, humor and sober observations on the will of the people — just what we’ve come expect from Know Theatre. Not many musicals begin with the cast flipping the bird at the audience, but then not many musicals are like this one, spinning a tale of America’s seventh president to in-your-face Indie Rock tunes. This is Bloody Bloody’s first professional regional production. I gave it a Critic’s Pick, and the show is proving to be a big hit for Know. (Through May 12.) Box office: 513-300-5669. Pump Boys & Dinettes at the Covington’s Carnegie Center is something like an off-Broadway classic (it had a brief Broadway run) from the early 1980s. Set in a filling station that’s also a diner, it’s a framework for downhome Country tunes and cornpone humor. Not much of a story, but a talented cast makes this one a lot of light-hearted fun. This is the final weekend. Box office: 859-957-1940. Covedale Center is presenting Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s but Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I saw it last Friday and can recommend it as a production that does justice to a piece of entertaining fluff. Director Tim Perrino has assembled a fast-paced production with some fine voices. The jaunty show, which covers the familiar tale in about 90 minutes (including intermission), has fun with (and parodies) various musical styles — from Elvis-styled Rock and Western Swing to French ballads and calypso. Stone walls and palms slide back to reveal a sphinx and a smoking entrance for the Pharaoh (aka Elvis). It’s not groundbreaking in any way, but it is the kind of solid entertainment the Covedale has presented for 10 seasons. Through May 13. Box office: 513-241-6550. And while I’m talking about lighthearted shows, make not that a tour of Mamma Mia, cramming tons of ABBA tunes into an implausible but funny story, makes a one-week stop at the Aronoff starting on Tuesday. It would be hard not to have a good time at any production of Mamma Mia. Tickets: 513-621-2787. Each week in Stage Door, Rick Pender offers theater tips for the weekend, often with a few pieces of theater news.
 
 

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Review)

Politics, Rock and the will of the people take center stage

0 Comments · Saturday, April 7, 2012
Not many musicals begin with the cast flipping the bird at the audience, but then not many musicals are like Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, the brash show that spins a tale of America’s seventh president to in-your-face Indie Rock tunes.  
by Jac Kern 04.20.2012
 
 
dove_cannabis_earth

Your Weekend To Do List: 4/20-4/22

The next 48 hours or so present a trifecta of holidays: Saturday is Record Store Day, Sunday is Earth Day, and, thanks to a group of teens in 1971, today (4-20) is unofficially Weed Day. Surely we can find a way to celebrate all three this weekend.
Visionaries and Voices, the Northside gallery that works with artists with disabilities, hosts its annual art auction gala Saturday. Double Vision features live and silent auctions featuring artwork from 20 local artists and other prizes, music by Magnolia Mountain and DJ Mowgli, cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. The event runs 7-11 p.m. at Memorial Hall; tickets are $50.
While April 22 is officially Earth Day, celebrations take place all weekend long. Cincinnati's 42nd Annual Earth Day Celebration takes over Sawyer Point Saturday from noon-5 p.m. The free event features exhibits, entertainment, kids activities and various recycling opportunities. Go here for a full list of local Earth Day events and be sure to pick up this week's Green Issue, featuring lots of environmental opportunities and the Central Ohio River Valley Local Foods Guide.
Cincinnati is lucky to have numerous quality, independent music retailers around town. From Everybody's Records to Shake It, we all have some great music memories thanks to these stores. Record Store Day, the third Saturday of April, is devoted to celebrating indie music shops and the music they help promote. Each year on this day, these stores present live music, limited releases and sales. Go here to check out local Record Store Day happenings.
We also suggest watching Bully, now in theaters, and Veep, premiering on HBO Sunday.
Check out Stage Door for this weekend's theater offerings, our music blog for a live show lineup and our To Do page for more events, art shows, performances and more this weekend.
 
 
by Jac Kern 04.19.2012
 
 
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Your Thursday To Do List

Tonight marks O'Bryonville's first Third Thursday Benefit Wine Walk of the year. Support the neighborhood's independent businesses like Hemptations, Phyllis Weston Gallery, Ten Thousand Villages, The Bonbonerie, indigenous and many more as you hop from spot to spot, enjoying complimentary wine and bites at each participating venue. This month's walk benefits Pets in Need (a UCAN affiliate) and Cincinnati Pet Food Pantry. The event runs from 5-8 p.m. tonight.Enjoy a romantic night in Paris...without needing a passport. Art Design Consultants presents en evening with their Design Star, Grace Jones of Dwellings on Madison. Jones will transform the ADC loft space (310 Culvert St., Downtown) into a French apartment. Stop by at 6 for cocktails and stick around for the 7 p.m. unveiling of Jones' designs. Holly Golightly attire is encouraged! RSVP here.Comedian Jim Norton kicks off his three-night gig at Funny Bone on the Levee tonight. Specializing in dark comedy and self-deprecation, the comic has also acted in television and film and has written two humorous nonfiction books. Many will recognize Norton from the Opie & Anthony radio show, Louie, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and several small, odd film roles (two words: Furry Vengeance). Norton goes on tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22.Cincinnati Zoo's Tunes and Blooms series continues tonight with Shiny and the Spoon and The Tillers. The free concert features local favorite musicians performing in the beautiful setting of the zoo's gardens. The concert runs 6-8:30 p.m.; admission to the zoo is free after 5 p.m. (parking is $8). Tunes and Blooms continues every Thursday this month.Jungle Jim's hosts a mystery mix cigar tasting tonight from 5-8 p.m. The tasting will be held at the Oscar Event Center's Monorail Terrace. Guests can enjoy three different cigars with $15 admission. There will be a cash bar, raffle and plenty of cigars and accessories for sale. Each Thursday, Jungle Jim's presents a different variety of cigars to try. No word yet on whether "mystery mix" is an early 4-20 reference.Follow our music blog for nightly shows and check our To Do page for more art exhibits, theater productions and events.
 
 
by Rick Pender 04.19.2012
Posted In: Theater at 08:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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2012 Fringe Cranks Up its Engine

Twenty-nine shows in two weeks, commencing May 29

Know Theatre has announced the 2012 Cincinnati Fringe Festival, kicking off May 29 and continuing through June 9. Festivities begin with the official CityBeat Fringe Kick-Off Party on May 29 at 6 p.m. (A suggested donation of $5 gets you in.) During the Festivals’ two-week run, 29 productions will receive multiple performances. Some shows are locally originated (14) and others are by touring artists (15) who travel to festivals around the United States. If everything selected actually happens (that’s seldom the case), there will be 10 plays, nine solo shows, four dance works and six multimedia/variety pieces.Several award-winning groups popular with past Fringe audiences are set to return. One of the most popular performers from 2011, Kevin J. Thornton — his I Love You (We’re Fucked) had a sold-out run and returned for another stint last October — is back with Strange Dreamz. Thornton has appeared in the Capital Fringe, Indy Fringe, NYC Frigid Festival, Tucson Fringe Festival, Phoenix Fringe Festival, Orlando Fringe Festival, Kansas City Fringe Festival, and the Minnesota Fringe Festival.  Four Humors Theater from the Twin Cities is back for the fifth consecutive year, this time presenting Bombus and Berrylinne, or the Bumblebee and the Hummingbird. The group has previously produced Mortem Capiendum (Producer’s Pick of the Fringe, 2008), April Fools (2009), and Harold (Critic’s Pick of the Fringe, 2010) and the hilarious James Bond-inspired puppet show You Only Live Forever Once (2011). The longevity honors will continue to be held by Cincinnati Fringe veteran group Performance Gallery, returning for their ninth year with Rodney Rumple's Random Reality. Past Cincinnati Fringe appearances include Images of a Beating Heart (2004), The Killer Whispers and Prays (2005), Godsplay (2006), Girlfight (2007), Fricative (2008), KAZ/m (2009), The Council (2010) and The Body Speaks (2011). Brad Cupples, the playwright for Performance Gallery’s 2010 entry, returns with Third Quarter Moon: A Complex Derivative Love Story. We’ll see shows from established local companies, including Quake: A Love Story from New Edgecliff Theatre (they presented Darker in 2011) and Don't Cross The Streams: The Cease and Desist Musical, a stage musical from Covington’s Carnegie Visual & Performing Arts Center. Two new local companies will present for the first time. Homegrown Theatre, led by local actress Leah Strasser will present an absurdist piece, The Doppelganger Cometh and Overtaketh, while Essex Theatre Arts Studio, founded by actors Bob Allen and Elizabeth Harris, will stage Love Knots, a series of shorts plays about love and romance by local playwright Phil Paradis. There will be plenty of new acts, including Grim & Fisher (the award-winning A deathly comedy in full-face mask) from Portland, Ore., and Rebecca King (Storms Beneath Her Skin), a transgender artist from Chicago. New York artist Tanya O’Debra’s Radio Star has won awards in San Francisco, Montreal and New York City. There will be dance performances by Houston-based dance company Psophonia (Delicious) and two local groups, MamLuft&Co.’s (Latitude) and Pones, Inc. (Project Activate). The latter is a collaborative and participatory performance that asks “How do you activate Cincinnati?” It’s the product of five local service organizations with 12 professional artists from a variety of disciplines.Each evening after performances, artists, audience members, staff, and volunteers gather at Know Theatre’s Underground bar for the Fringe Bar Series featuring the “Channel Fringe Hard Hitting Action News Update.” Events there include Fringe previews, Fringe Olympics, Fringe-e-Oke, Fringe Prom, and the 22.5 hour play project. This year marks the second year of FringeNext, offering three shows created and performed by high school students. Two are originating from the School for Creative and Performing Arts; the third is from Lakota West High School. Individual tickets to shows are still $12. “Full Frontal” passes are $200, providing access to every event in the festival. “Flexible Voyeur” six-show passes are on sale for $60, the price equivalent of five tickets. “One Night Stand” passes are $35; that’s good for one weeknight (as many as three shows) and a drink at Know Theatre's Bar. Pre-sale single tickets will go on sale mid-May. For more information about the performances or to purchase passes, check out www.cincyfringe.com or call (513) 300-KNOW (5669).
 
 
by Nolan Shea 04.16.2012
Posted In: Arts community, Visual Art, Street Art at 09:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
 
 
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Light Painting: Matt Treece's Story

“Light painting and graffiti are very similar,” says Matt Treece, 23-year-old local photographer and light painter. “I realized this when I found myself hopping through a shattered first story window on the backside of an abandoned factory on the East Side at 2:30 a.m., alone, with my backpack on, creeping around in the darkness looking for a good spot.” Treece is searching for that “magical spot.” He doesn’t risk the charge of vandalism like graffiti artists, but he still risks a trespassing charge with every foray into the night. Light painting is a photography technique that involves moving a camera or adding a light source while operating with a slow shutter speed. The resultant images include colorful, swirly lines and other creative effects. Like graffiti artists, “both of us trespass illegally. Both of us are night owls. Both of us have explored tunnels, creeks, bridges and abandoned buildings and have gained such a good understanding about the layout of the city,” Treece says. Suffice it to say, Treece’s understanding of all the nooks and crannies of the city is far more in-depth than the average daylight city dweller. Before his nightly jaunt into the darkness, Treece packs his equipment bag. At first glance, you wouldn’t think anything is out of the ordinary. Treece stuffs a Nikon D90 camera, remote shutter release, Nikon SB-600 Flash and two tripods into the main compartment of the bag. But the smaller compartments receive the stranger tools of the trade. He reveals children’s toys, ones that light up. Treece begins to stuff light swords, mini color changing glow sticks, six different kinds of flashlights, laser pointers, finger LEDs, glow sticks and his custom nine LED light orb tool into every remaining compartment of his equipment bag. All that’s missing is the party favors. At this point, it’s almost unclear if he’s going to a rave or going out to light paint. Treece almost forgets the most important tool: batteries — lots of them. Light painting hasn’t always been Treece’s passion, however. “I’ve always been interested in art, but my interest in light painting started sometime around May or June of last year,” he says. “I was browsing the Internet randomly and saw a picture of what looked like a spinning waterfall of sparks. I had seen light painting prior to this photo, but it really didn’t click that these [light painters] were using super long exposures and crazy light sources to create works of art.” That night, Treece spent hours reading up tutorials on the website lightpaintingphotography.com and a particular online community that called itself “the light junkies.” There he learned that it was plausible to make his own contribution to the light painting community. Not all places are created equal in the light painting community. Living in Cincinnati is both wonderful and a pain. Clifton Heights, Treece’s main stomping ground, provides him with an incredible amount of light pollution, which can be attributed to the area’s attempt to curb crime activity. Cincinnati still provides an ample amount of opportunity to create. “[Cincinnati] has some of the most bad-ass tunnels built in the early 1900s. … Cincinnati also has a creek system, which over time had to be cemented because of industrial waste,” Treece says. “These tunnels and channels have created some of the best spaces for light painting.” “It’s surreal standing in a tunnel underground in the absolute darkest of dark, alone, listening to your heart race in your chest, “ he says. “A lot of times it feels like I’ve entered into another dimension. I truly think light painting has made me become addicted to the adrenaline rush, just like a base jumper would feel, knowing I could potentially be injured, hurt or lost forever. “A lot of times, I like to think about all the people sound asleep in their beds as I trudge through nasty underground water in search of whatever adventure lay in store ahead of me,” he says. It would seem, for many, the risks would outweigh the reward. The risk of injury, prosecution or even death would turn many away. Add darkness to the mix and a psycho killer and you’d have a horror movie. But for Treece it’s much deeper than the risk of physical harm or punishment. It’s about finding a center in his life. “I have always loved creating things. I’ve found throughout my life that I have trouble focusing on many regular everyday things in my day-to-day life,” he says. “But, when it comes to art, my mind focuses and I get into the zone. Pure focus and happiness.” For all of Treece’s risk and work, there is a positive outcome. A reward. A magical moment. A time when Treece steps back and feels a small sense of accomplishment. “In my case, I look at my digital screen on my camera and have that moment where I gasp; lose my breath; tummy tingles; my mouth begins to salivate and yell out in joy,” he said. “Because when you were ‘doing it’ you’re not viewing it in the same perspective as you would when you’re fully finished.” The similarities between graffiti artists and light painters reemerge. “We both step back, look at what we’ve just accomplished and get the chills, because this artwork just came through from another place or time,” Treece says. “It just bursts through your minds and hands and created this whole new thing that now exists in reality.” “It’s wonderful.”
 
 

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