The Baker's Wife
The Baker's Wife is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Stephen Schwartz (composer)
Stephen Lawrence Schwartz is an American musical theatre lyricist and composer. In a career spanning over four decades, Schwartz has written such hit musicals as Godspell , Pippin and Wicked...

 and the book by Joseph Stein
Joseph Stein
Joseph Stein was an American playwright best known for writing the books for such musicals as Fiddler on the Roof and Zorba.-Biography:...

, based on the French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 film La Femme du Boulanger
The Baker's Wife (film)
- Cast :* Raimu as Aimable Castanier* Ginette Leclerc as Aurélie Castanier* Fernand Charpin as Le marquis Castan de Venelles* Robert Vattier as Le Curé* Charles Blavette as Antonin* Robert Bassac as L'instituteur* Marcel Maupi as Barnabé...

by Marcel Pagnol
Marcel Pagnol
Marcel Pagnol was a French novelist, playwright, and filmmaker. In 1946, he became the first filmmaker elected to the Académie Française.-Biography:...

 and Jean Giono
Jean Giono
Jean Giono was a French author who wrote works of fiction set in the Provence region of France.-First period:...

. The musical premiered in the West End
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

 in 1989 for a short run but, while establishing a dedicated cult following
Cult following
A cult following is a group of fans who are highly dedicated to a specific area of pop culture. A film, book, band, or video game, among other things, will be said to have a cult following when it has a small but very passionate fan base...

, has not been produced on Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...



The musical theater rights of the Marcel Pagnol
Marcel Pagnol
Marcel Pagnol was a French novelist, playwright, and filmmaker. In 1946, he became the first filmmaker elected to the Académie Française.-Biography:...

's 1938 film were originally optioned in 1952 by producers Cy Feuer
Cy Feuer
Cy Feuer was an American theatre producer, director, composer, and musician.Born Seymour Arnold Feuerman in Brooklyn, New York,he studied trumpet privately with Max Schlossberg, he became a professional trumpeter at the age of fifteen, working at clubs on weekends to help support his family while...

 and Ernest Martin. Composer Frank Loesser
Frank Loesser
Frank Henry Loesser was an American songwriter who wrote the lyrics and scores to the Broadway hits Guys and Dolls and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, among others. He won separate Tony Awards for the music and lyrics in both shows, as well as sharing the Pulitzer Prize for...

 and librettist Abe Burrows
Abe Burrows
Abe Burrows was a Tony and Pulitzer-winning American humorist, author, and director for radio and the stage.-Early years:...

, who had worked with Feuer and Martin on Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying were attached as authors. The production to star Bert Lahr
Bert Lahr
Bert Lahr was an American actor and comedian. Lahr is remembered today for his roles as the Cowardly Lion and Kansas farmworker Zeke in The Wizard of Oz, but was also well-known for work in burlesque, vaudeville, and on Broadway.-Early life:Lahr was born in New York City, of German-Jewish heritage...

, however, never materialized. Nearly a decade later Zero Mostel
Zero Mostel
Samuel Joel “Zero” Mostel was an American actor of stage and screen, best known for his portrayal of comic characters such as Tevye on stage in Fiddler on the Roof, Pseudolus on stage and on screen in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Max Bialystock in the original film version...

 was named to take the lead.

By 1976 the rights had devolved to producer David Merrick
David Merrick
David Merrick was a prolific Tony Award-winning American theatrical producer.-Life and career:Born David Lee Margulois to Jewish parents in St. Louis, Missouri, Merrick graduated from Washington University, then studied law at the Jesuit-run Saint Louis University School of Law...

. The production by Stephen Schwartz and Joseph Stein
Joseph Stein
Joseph Stein was an American playwright best known for writing the books for such musicals as Fiddler on the Roof and Zorba.-Biography:...

 toured the United States for six months in 1976, undergoing major retoolings along the way. It played the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is one of the halls in the Los Angeles Music Center . The Music Center's other halls include the Mark Taper Forum, Ahmanson Theatre, and Walt Disney Concert Hall.The Pavilion has 3,197 seats spread over four tiers, with chandeliers, wide curving stairways and rich décor...

 in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 in May 1976 and also the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC. (in November 1976). Topol
Chaim Topol
Chaim Topol , often billed simply as Topol, is an Israeli theatrical and film performer, actor, writer and producer. He has been nominated for an Oscar and Tony Award, and has won two Golden Globes.-Early life:...

 as the baker Aimable, was replaced by Paul Sorvino
Paul Sorvino
Paul Anthony Sorvino is an American actor. He often portrays authority figures on both sides of the law, and is possibly best known for his roles as Paulie Cicero, a portrayal of Paul Vario in the film Goodfellas and Sgt. Phil Cerreta on the police procedural and legal drama television series Law...

 during the last 2 weeks of the Kennedy Center run, and his wife Geneviève was played by Carole Demas who was eventually replaced by Patti LuPone
Patti LuPone
Patti Ann LuPone is an American singer and actress, known for her Tony Award-winning performances as Eva Perón in the 1979 stage musical Evita and as Madame Rose in the 2008 Broadway revival of Gypsy, and for her Olivier Award-winning performance as Fantine in the original London cast of Les...

. The production never reached Broadway,the authors having pulled out of the production in the try-out process.


After hearing the song "Meadowlark
Meadowlark (song)
Meadowlark is a song from the musical The Baker's Wife, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. It has been performed by several famous Broadway singers such as Patti LuPone, Betty Buckley, Liz Callaway, Alice Ripley, and Sarah Brightman....

" countless times in auditions, director Trevor Nunn
Trevor Nunn
Sir Trevor Robert Nunn, CBE is an English theatre, film and television director. Nunn has been the Artistic Director for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre, and, currently, the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. He has directed musicals and dramas for the stage, as well as opera...

 persuaded the authors to mount a London production. The Baker's Wife, starring Alun Armstrong
Alun Armstrong (actor)
Alun Armstrong is a prolific British character actor. Armstrong grew up in County Durham in North East England. He first became interested in acting through Shakespeare productions at his grammar school. Since his career began in the early 1970s, he has played, in his words, "the full spectrum of...

 and Sharon Lee-Hill, opened in the West End
West End theatre
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...

 at the Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix Theatre (London)
The Phoenix Theatre is a West End theatre in the London Borough of Camden, located on Charing Cross Road . The entrance is in Phoenix Street....

 on November 27, 1989 and closed on January 6, 1990, after 56 performances. This production, too, was ill-fated: though reviews were strong and audience reaction positive, the production was steadily losing money. According to Carol De Giere, "While reviewers offered praise, audiences were small and the show closed after only 56 performances. Schwartz explains,'The major thing that was wrong was that it was just too long'...Nunn comments 'Every performance there had a standing ovation, which is not at all normal in the English provinces." Bowing to financial reality, the show closed prematurely, but received the Laurence Olivier Award
Laurence Olivier Awards
The Laurence Olivier Award is presented annually by the Society of London Theatre to recognise excellence in professional theatre. Named after the renowned British actor Laurence Olivier, they are given for West End shows and other productions staged in London...

 nomination for Musical of the Year.

The creative team reunited for the 1997 production at The Round Barn Theatre
The Round Barn Theatre
The Round Barn Theatre is a non-Equity regional theatre located in Nappanee, Indiana. It is part of Amish Acres, a historic farm and heritage resort. Amish Acres is owned by founders Richard and Susan Pletcher. Jenifer Wysong serves as president. The Pletchers are the producers of The Round Barn...

 at Amish Acres
Amish Acres
Amish Acres is a tourist attraction in Nappanee, Indiana created from an Old Order Amish farm. The farm was purchased in October 1968 at auction from the Manasses Kuhns’ estate. The farm was homesteaded by Moses Stahly in 1873...

 in Nappanee, Indiana, that was directed by Scott Schwartz,
and the production at the Goodspeed Opera House, Norma Terris Theatre, Chester
Chester is a city in Cheshire, England. Lying on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales, it is home to 77,040 inhabitants, and is the largest and most populous settlement of the wider unitary authority area of Cheshire West and Chester, which had a population of 328,100 according to the...

, Connecticut in November 2002.

The Papermill Playhouse, Milburn, New Jersey, produced the show from April 13 - May 15, 2005. The director was Gordon Greenberg, with choreography by Christopher Gattelli
Christopher Gattelli
Christopher Gattelli is a choreographer, performer, and director for the theatre. He has been nominated for the Tony Award for Best Choreography for South Pacific and the Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Choreography for Altar Boyz. He won the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreograper for...

 and the cast that starred Alice Ripley as Genevieve, Max von Essen
Max von Essen
Max von Essen is an American musical theatre actor and vocalist.A son of Rita and Thomas Von Essen, who was the New York City Fire Commissioner during the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, he is the youngest of four children.Von Essen is a 1992 graduate of South Side High School,...

 as Dominique, Lenny Wolpe
Lenny Wolpe
Lenny Wolpe is an American musical theatre actor who has appeared in Broadway musicals including Wicked and The Drowsy Chaperone.-Biography:...

 as Amiable, Gay Marshall (Denise) and Richard Pruitt (Claude). The Papermill included the reworking of the relationship between the characters of Geneviève and Dominique as well as new lyrics for "Proud Lady".

An Australian premiere of the show, directed by Prof. Peter Fitzpatrick, had a Melbourne production in late 2007.

The York Theatre, New York, presented a staged concert October 26-28, 2007.

Act One

It's early autumn in this small provincial town, still surprisingly provincial in the mid-1930s; we see several tables occupied at the cafe. Denise, the wife of the proprietor, tends to her chores while singing "Chanson": first in French, then English. She sees the same faces every day, but sometimes, things can happen that change you, making life different and new.

Focus is shifted to the customers at the tables. Bits of conversation are heard: complaints from a gardener whose neighbor's tree is shading his spinach; an argument between the local priest and the school teacher who has been teaching that Joan of Arc "thought" she heard voices; the owner of a well quarrelling with the neighbor whose dog had breached that well seven years previously. The bickering villagers insist to one another that their lives would be much better "If It Wasn't for You". All are anticipating of the arrival of the baker: the village has been without bread since the previous baker died, and tensions are running higher than normal.

The Marquis enters with his three "nieces" and welcomes the new baker, Amiable Castagnet. Accurately named, he is a jolly, middle-aged fellow. With him is his young and beautiful wife Genevieve, whom the Marquis mistakes for the baker's daughter. The error is quickly addressed, but does not go unremarked by the townspeople. With Pompom, their cat, the couple is shown to their new home -- with comments from the townsfolk, about the baker robbing the cradle, following in their wake.

In their new bakery, Amiable is clearly pleased with his new shop. To Genevieve, he sings "Merci, Madame", as enchanted with her as he is with his new surroundings. He is excited about the prospects of a prosperous life with a family. The villagers, too, are pleased with the return of "Bread" to the small town.

The customers argue about their place in line in the small shop, eager to sample the wares of the new baker. Others gossip about the Marquis and his nieces; and Antoine, one of the villagers, asks Amiable how an old man like him was able to snare the beautiful Genevieve. "God was good to me," he replies, and Genevieve reminds the villagers that not only did her husband choose her, she chose him, too -- and, she insists, she couldn't be happier. She smiles at the customers but, embarrassed by their prying, rushes inside in tears. She sings of the "Gifts of Love" she's received from men in her past: her passionate affair with a married man named Paul, and her gentler feelings for Amiable. Closing the door on her past, she resolves to be a good wife to the baker.

While picking up the Marquis' pastry order, his driver, Dominique, eyes Genevieve, mistaking her for the baker's daughter, just as the Marquis himself did earlier. Genevieve corrects the handsome chauffeur, but he cockily insists on addressing her as Mademoiselle. Genevieve insists, "Madame!", but he continues flirting with her, flustering her. Amiable returns after trying to find Pompom and reports that the cat has run off.

Some time later in the village square, Dominique again advances upon Genevieve. She rebuffs him, reminding him that she is happily married, but he resolves that he will be with his "Proud Lady".

The villagers gather again outside the café, engaged in their usual squabbles. The baker and his wife arrive and sit at a table near Antoine who continues to tease them about the difference in their ages. He implies that while the baker may be able to create the perfect croissant, his ability to create a child might have passed. Dominique comes to the couple's defense, hitting Antoine, but Genevieve is humiliated by the entire scene and exits in a huff. The men of the village slyly advise one another to "Look For the Woman" whenever conflict arises among them: "It's when the hen walks into the barnyard that the roosters start pecking at each other."

That evening, we see three couples — including the baker and his wife — getting ready for bed. Dominique and his guitar-toting friend Philippe plot their evening in the town square, and as the three couples end their reprise of "Chanson", Dominique and Philippe start their "Serenade". The baker believes their song is a tribute offered in thanks for his baking, but Genevieve understands correctly that Dominique is singing to her. Amiable, ever the good man, sends Genevieve to give Dominique some unsold baguettes. She castigates her insistent suitor, but Dominique is undeterred. Despite her protests, Genevieve is unable to resist him, and they decide to meet an hour later and run off together.

Amiable calls down to Genevieve, and she replies that she'll return to bed in a minute. As he drops off to sleep, she contemplates her situation, singing the legend of the "Meadowlark". In the story, the bird decides to stay with the old king who adored her -- and perishes of sadness, having missed her opportunity to fly away with the sun-god who had wooed her. Resisting the meadowlark's sad fate, Genevieve embarks for an unknown future with her "beautiful young man".

The neighbors are awakened to a fire in the bakery's oven, where the baker finds charred loaves. Usually Genevieve is the early riser of the household, and he begins to search for her, believing that she has gone in search for Pompom. A crowd begins to gather and the gossip begins at once, "Buzz A-Buzz": they know Amiable's search will yield neither cat nor wife.

The Marquis arrives and takes the baker aside, telling him that Genevieve had run off with his chauffeur in the Marquis' Peugeot. Philippe arrives and confirms the story, but Amiable chooses to believe that Genevieve has merely gone to visit her mother. As the gossip continues, the Marquis threatens to report his stolen car to the police, and to have the two lovers arrested. The gossiping townsfolk gleefully agree that the whole outrageous scandal is the "best thing to happen in this town in all my life!"

Act Two

The second act opens as the first, with Denise reprising her "Chanson". The villagers reprise "If It Wasn't for You", while keeping an eye on the baker: they are relieved to see him begin a new batch of dough. The teacher and the priest argue again, the priest accusing the villagers of contaminating Genevieve with their immoral conduct, the teacher championing free will. The Marquis dismisses both explanations, insisting that Genevieve's behavior was simple human nature -- that we are all captive to the joys of the flesh.

Amiable crosses to the café to inform the customers that the bread will be ready momentarily. The typically sober baker orders a cognac, and another, and sings tipsily that Genevieve will be home on an "Any-Day-Now Day": she has just gone to visit her mother. In an attempt to sober him up, the villagers follow him into the bakery, only to find it in a shambles. Amiable collapses amongst the spilled flour, dough hanging from the ceiling, and burnt loaves of bread.

The villagers realize that the town is in danger of being once again without a baker, and they blame the despondent baker's runaway wife for the sorry state of affairs. In the closed bakery, they try to cheer up Amiable and get him baking again by telling him that he's the "Luckiest Man in the World": he's been spared the boredom and arguments of married life.

The Marquis enters, telling Amiable that all he needs to cheer up is some "Feminine Companionship," even offering to loan his "nieces". The villagers ask the Marquis if the girls are really his nieces, to which he responds, "What is a niece but the daughter of a brother, and as I consider all men my brothers...." The girls surround the baker, flirting and caressing him. The priest enters and, shocked at the scene, begins feuding with the Marquis. The villagers join in the fray, and the baker throws them all out.

At a town meeting in the church, Amiable admits that he knows that Genevieve has run off. He offers the Marquis his life savings to deter him from hunting down the couple. He leaves the church, and the villagers -- chastened by the aging man's selflessness even in the face of profound anguish -- vow to work together to find Genevieve and persuade her to return to her husband.

Alone in the bakery, Amiable decides "If I Have to Live Alone", that he will do so with dignity.

The villagers are again at the cafe, and Antoine enters claiming that he has found the young couple at a hotel in a nearby town. They agree to form a search party, and the Marquis, the priest, and the teacher go after the outcasts to persuade the baker's wife to return home. Left behind, the women of the town comment ruefully on the "Romance" that is missing from their own lives.

In a small hotel room, Genevieve and Dominique are together, but all is not well. She admits her passion for the young man, but wonders "Where Is the Warmth?". She gathers her things and leaves him asleep.

At a bus stop, the villagers encounter Genevieve on her way to Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

. They beg her to return but, guilt-stricken and ashamed, she tells them that she can never go home again. They eventually convince her to return: "all sins are forgivable".

The villagers are asked to remain in their houses so as to not embarrass Genevieve when she arrives. Escorted by the priest and the Marquis, Genevieve walks through the empty street to the bakery and cautiously approaches her door.

She finds Amiable and attempts to tell him the truth, but he awkwardly refuses to listen, offering her dinner and insisting that she has returned from visiting her mother. Pompom arrives at the window, and Aimable angrily chastises the cat for running after "some tom that looked good in the moonlight." He unleashes all of his pent-up bitterness toward Genevieve on the small cat, but offers it a saucer of milk. He has faithfully refilled the milk each day, and when Amiable charges that the cat will run off yet again, a tearful Genevieve assures him that "she will not leave". Reconciled, the two begin to prepare the bread for the next day.

Denise begins the new day at the café, reprising her "Chanson", joined by the town in harmony.


This song list reflects the recording of the 1990 London production.
Act I
  • Chanson – Denise
  • If It Wasn't for You – Teacher, Priest, Marquis, and Villagers
  • Merci, Madame – Amiable and Geneviève
  • Bread – Villagers
  • Gifts of Love – Geneviève
  • Plain and Simple – Amiable and Geneviève
  • Proud Lady – Dominique
  • Look for the Woman – Teacher, Marquis, Claude, Barnabé, Antoine, Casimir, Pierre, Doumergue
  • Chanson (Reprise) – Denise
  • Serenade – Dominique, Philippe, Amiable, and Geneviève
  • Meadowlark
    Meadowlark (song)
    Meadowlark is a song from the musical The Baker's Wife, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. It has been performed by several famous Broadway singers such as Patti LuPone, Betty Buckley, Liz Callaway, Alice Ripley, and Sarah Brightman....

     – Geneviève
  • Buzz A-Buzz – Amiable, Marquis, Philippe, Villagers

Act II
  • Chanson (Reprise) – Denise
  • If It Wasn't for You – Priest, Teacher, Marquis, and Villagers
  • Any-Day-Now Day – Amiable, Villagers
  • Endless Delights – Dominique, Geneviève
  • Luckiest Man in the World – Claude, Village Men, Marquis, Simone, Inès, Nicole
  • Feminine Companionship – Claude, Village Men, Marquis, Simone, Inès, Nicole
  • If I Have to Live Alone – Amiable
  • Romance – Denise, Hortense, Thérèse, Simone, Inez, Nicole
  • Where is the Warmth? – Geneviève
  • Gifts of Love (Reprise) – Denise, Amiable, Geneviève, Villagers
  • Chanson (Reprise) – Denise, Amiable, Geneviève, Villagers

Cast Recordings

Although bootleg live recordings are known to exist, a full cast album of The Baker's Wife was never recorded at the time of its original tour in 1976. While the show was playing in Boston, it was seen by long-time theatre enthusiasts Bruce and Doris Yeko, who had only recently started up their own record label, Take Home Tunes
Original Cast (record label)
Original Cast Records is a record label based in Georgetown, Connecticut, that specialises in obscure theatre recordings, primarily cast albums from little-known Broadway, off-Broadway, off-off-Broadway and other stage productions, but also theatre-related film scores, cabaret, concert and solo...

, devoted to the preservation of musical scores that might not otherwise be recorded. Impressed by the score, the Yekos contacted Stephen Schwartz, who suggested to them that a full cast album might be recorded. At that time, however, the couple had little experience in record production, having only released an EP of songs from The Robber Bridegroom
The Robber Bridegroom
For other uses, see The Robber Bridegroom The Robber Bridegroom is a 1942 novella by Eudora Welty.The story, inspired by and loosely based on the Grimm fairy tale The Robber Bridegroom, is a Southern folk tale set in Mississippi. At the opening of the novella, the legendary Mike Fink meets...

. However, after The Baker's Wife closed on the road, the Yekos and Schwartz negotiated to record an LP of excerpts from the score, with the composer himself selecting what he considered to be the best songs (rather than those, necessarily, that might advance the plot).

The recording sessions took place in early 1977 in an apartment studio in Greenwich Village that was too small to accommodate an ensemble. As a result, Schwartz suggested that, to save both space and money, only the songs performed by the three protagonists would be recorded. The resulting LP thus comprised six solo numbers and five duets, performed by original cast members Paul Sorvino and Patti LuPone, along with Terri Ralston (who sang "Chanson").

At the same time, the Yekos produced and released an EP with additional songs performed by original cast member Sorvino along with Darlene Conley, Denise Lor, and Portia Nelson (who were not in the touring production) and composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz and his wife, Carol.

This 'original cast' LP of The Baker's Wife became very popular, and received a Grammy nomination. It has since been re-released on CD twice: once in 1989 (the first CD to be released by Bruce Yeko's Original Cast label) and again in 1992.

The 1990 London production, directed by Trevor Nunn, was recorded and released on the JAY label as a lavish 2-CD set. This comprised twenty songs, of which ten had been previously heard on the 1976 LP and one other from the studio cast EP. The remaining songs, not previously recorded, either came from the original tour, the 1985 off-Broadway revival, or had been specially written for the new London production.

Since the late 1980s, songs from the show have also been recorded by solo artists. "Meadowlark" is by far the most frequently covered song, having been recorded by Sarah Brightman
Sarah Brightman
Sarah Brightman is an English classical crossover soprano, actress, songwriter and dancer. She is famous for possessing a vocal range of over 3 octaves and singing in the whistle register...

, Betty Buckley
Betty Buckley
Betty Lynn Buckley is an American theater, film and television actress and singer. She is a Tony Award winner and Grammy Award nominee.-Early life:...

, Susan Egan
Susan Egan
Susan Egan is an American actress and singer known for her work on the Broadway stage.-Early life and career:Egan was born in Seal Beach, California. She attended Orange County High School of the Arts and UCLA. In the meantime she started her career touring with the performance group The Young...

, Liz Callaway
Liz Callaway
Liz Callaway is an American actress and singer, famous for providing the singing voices of many female characters in films, such as Anya in Anastasia, Odette in The Swan Princess, and Kiara in The Lion King II:Simba's Pride....

, Sandy Campbell, Dianne Pilkington
Dianne Pilkington
Dianne Lesley Pilkington is an English theatre actress and singer.- Life :Pilkington was born in Wigan. She trained at the Guildford School of Acting, graduating in 1997 with the Principal's Award....

, Rosalind Kind, Susannah Mars and others.

External links

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