A Christmas Carol Bios

CAST

Cycerli Ash
(She/Her)

Ebenezer Scrooge

Cycerli (@Cycerli) was last seen at Portland Playhouse as the Director of Chicken & Biscuits, and before that as Ebenezer Scrooge in last year's A Christmas Carol. She is truly humbled and honored to reprise her role of Scrooge in this year's rendition of A Christmas Carol. She portrayed Cynthia in Sweat at Profile theater and all four ghosts of A Christmas Carol at Portland Playhouse before the pandemic. She was rehearsing as Vera in Seven Guitars at Passin Arts when they were forced to close because of the pandemic. She played multiple roles in A Life at Portland Center Stage and Risa in Two Trains Running at Passin Arts. She is the CEO of the faith-based theater company called DAE productions and is currently a professor at Portland State University. She has been seen on TVone, BET, Amazon prime  and Freeform. She has worked for The Red Door Project, Kenny Leon True Colors, The Alliance theater, Dominion, Clarence Brown theater, and the Denver Center. She gives all glory to God and is very blessed to do what she loves for a living. Cycerli went to Rutgers University on a track scholarship while majoring in theater and received her master’s in acting from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

La’ Tevin Alexander
(He/Him)

Marley, Bob Cratchit, Old Joe U/S- Ebenezer Scrooge

Homage to God, who my blessings come from

A Christmas Carol is yet again upon us though there’s more to come

Coming up next is What I Learned in Paris

Where romance, politics, & drama find marriage

Recent I was seen in The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

As well as Walking Through Portland with a Panther

In film I was last seen in The Paper Tigers, a Kung Fu comedy

On TV I have appeared in Portlandia, Grimm, & others

I’ll tell you more about them when there’s more space to share

Until then Happy Holidays

May God Bless you

And may peace be unto you

Take care

Benjamin Tissell
(He/Him)

Collecting Man #1, The Ghost of Christmas Present, Businessman 1

Benjamin is a Portland-based actor, director and musician. Locally, he has performed at Portland Center Stage, Portland Playhouse, Third Rail Repertory, Broadway Rose, Lakewood Theatre Company, Pixie Dust Productions, and others. Ben is also songwriter with music on Spotify and iTunes, and currently teaches and directs at George Fox University. You can follow Ben's upcoming projects and creative work at bentissell.com. He is overjoyed to be returning to this beautiful story with this beautiful company!

Nikki Marie Weaver (She/They)

Belle, Mrs. Dilber, Topper

Nikki is grateful to tell this story with this group of people, it's right on time. Last seen in this as Marley and Topper, this year playing Belle and reviving Topper. It's a joy to remember how to play so fully in body, voice, and spirit. When not playing plays, Nikki plays with women inside prison all over our country offering theatre and mindfulness as gifts towards healing and transformation through the work of On The Inside, a Portland based non-profit.
 

Elleon Dobias
(She/Her)

Fred, Mrs. Fezziwig U/S - Fan, Peter

Originally from Colorado, Elleon’s work as an actor, musician, and writer has taken her to a variety of venues, and she is grateful to include Portland Playhouse in her experiences. Some favorite credits include Once (National Tour 2019), Macbeth and Henry V (American Shakespeare Center), Indecent (Chicago Premiere, Victory Gardens), Haymarket (World Premiere, Underscore Theatre), A Christmas Carol (Denver Center for the Performing Arts), and a season with the Chicago Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. Aside from performing, you can find Elleon hiking, drawing, melting Junior Mints into hot popcorn, and trying spicy versions of regular things. Cheers, and Happy Holidays!

Sarah Smith
(She/Her)

Collecting Man #2, Molly, Edna U/S - Belle, Mrs. Dilber, Topper

Sarah  returns to work with Portland Playhouse with gratitude. Sarah was previously seen on the Portland Playhouse stage as Marley in A Christmas Carol. Other favorite previous collaborations include work with Third Rail Repertory Theatre, CoHo Productions (Portland), Gainesville Theatre Alliance, New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane, and Swine Palace (Baton Rouge). Favorite roles played include Eliza (The Curious Case of the Watson Intelligence) Rita (Educating Rita), Helena (A Midsummer Night's Dream), and Nora (A Doll's House). In addition to her work in theatre, Sarah‘s most recent TV credits include Into the Badlands (AMC), American Horror Story (FOX) and Treme (HBO)

Colin Kane
(He/Him)

Mr. Fezziwig, Lighthouse Keeper 2, Businessman 3, Undertaker’s Man U/S - Collecting Man #1, The Ghost of Christmas Present, Businessman 1

Colin has been working in the Portland area since 2014. He was last seen in Appropriate at Profile Theatre, and the world premier musical Loch Lomond at Broadway Rose. Local credits include Snail in A Year With Frog and Toad at Oregon Children's Theatre (Drammy Award), and Brad in The Rocky Horror Show at Lakewood Theatre. He has also performed with triangle productions, Enlightened Theatrics, Shaking the Tree, Live on Stage, and others. A graduate of Portland State University, Colin would like to thank the arts educators in his life, Taryn, Luma, and his family. For Tom.
 

Anthony Michael Shepard^
(He/Him)

Past, Lighthouse Keeper 1, Businessman 2 U/S - Marley, Bob Cratchit, Young Scrooge

Anthony is honored to return to the Playhouse!  He is a St. Louis native, former Playhouse Apprentice, Black Theatre United Rise Mentee, and a graduate of the Dobbins Conservatory. Anthony has appeared in local productions such as Fucking A, Bella: An American Tall Tale, Titus Andronicus, and a workshop of Great Wide Open. This production has been a joy and hopefully one of many that you will see him in. As always, Anthony gives honor, love, and gratitude to his friends, family, and mentors; who continue to inspire and elevate his artistry to new heights.  Follow him on Insta: anthony.shepard and TikTok: blackboysong to stay up to date with his shenanigans. 

Sammy Rat Rios (She/They)

Mrs. Cratchit, Elizabeth, Young Scrooge

Sammy is an interdisciplinary performing and visual artist currently residing in Portland, Oregon. Rios received a B.F.A. in Theatre Studies with a focus in Playwriting and Directing from Southern Methodist University, and received additional training from British American Drama Academy's undergraduate conservatory Acting Program in London, UK. Rios acts, writes, directs, and designs for theatre and film. They are also a songwriter/producer for their electronic solo project ‘Rat Rios' and compose original music for podcasts and film. When they aren't creating art, you will find them either outside in the PNW's lush landscape, or holed up in their treehouse with their partner, animals, and plants, indulging in video games and vegan cuisine.

Jasmyn Tilford^
(She/Her)

Dick Wilkins, Hermione

Jasmyn  is a multidisciplinary artist. You may have seen her previously on the Portland Playhouse stage as Mrs. Dinwiddie/Ensemble in Bella: An American Tall Tale, and Dick Wilkins and Edna in A Christmas Carol. Other roles of hers include Willow Gravis in Retribution, Peace/Chorus in Lysistrata, and Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors. She is currently a company member of Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre. Jasmyn is grateful and full of joy to be a part of another year of A Christmas Carol. She thanks her friends and family for their continued support and love towards her career, passions and artistry. And she thanks this marvelous cast, crew and creative team for this lovely experience. “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”– Lena Horne

Lulu Kashiwabara (She/Her)

Fan, Peter U/S - Mrs. Cratchit, Elizabeth, Old Joe U/S - Dick Wilkins, Hermione U/S - Martha

Lulu is thrilled to be participating in A Christmas Carol a second time around this year! Last year, she played Christmas Past, Fan, and Belinda. Also, you might have seen her in The Sound of Music at Lincoln High School, 545 with Portland Playhouse, Matilda at NWCT or Diary Of A Worm, A Spider, And A Fly at OCT. When not in a show, she enjoys creative writing, doing Taekwondo, and watching cartoons. Lulu would like to thank her family and friends for always uplifting and encouraging her. Also, she wants to give a big thank you to the cast and crew, for being incredibly amazing to work with, collaborative, and kind. Thank you for supporting Portland Playhouse, and enjoy the show! 

Tabitha Wells-Benitez
(She/Her)

Fan, Belinda, Fezziwig daughter, caroler of London, Ghost of Christmas Past, Ensemble

Tabitha is so excited and grateful to be returning to this beautiful production. Past theater performances include Annie Get Your Gun and A Christmas Story: The Musical (Elsinore Theatrical Productions), The Peppermint Bear (Lakewood Theatre), Hello Dolly! (Nutz-n-Boltz Theater Company), and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. When not performing, Tabitha is also a student at Corban University majoring in Psychology with an emphasis in Family Studies and is the Early Childhood Coordinator at New Hope in Portland. She would like to thank the artistic team for this amazing opportunity, and her
family for their love and support.

Serelle Strickland
(She/Her)

Fezziwig daughter, Belinda

Serelle started dancing, singing, and loving the stage at three. She played Tiny Tim for two years and Alex for one year in previous productions of A Christmas Carol, and she played Raynell in Fences by August Wilson at Portland Playhouse. Recently, Serelle was cast as young Kat in Wendell & Wild with Keegan-Key and Jordan Peele. She is currently attending the Vancouver School of the Arts and is exploring many art forms for her future endeavors. Serelle is excited to be a part of
A Christmas Carol this year as Fezziwig's daughter and Belinda. She would like to thank God, family, and friends for all their support. Special thank you to Brian Weaver and Charles Grant for always believing in her.

Divine Crane
(She/Her)

Fezziwig daughter, Belinda

Divine is 16 years old, born and raised in Beaverton Oregon. She is ecstatic as A Christmas Carol is her first professional show and she is thrilled to be a part of it this season. She recently was in the Aloha high schools production of Lost girl as Nina. For a closer look follow her @divinesoncloud9 on Instagram.

Margot Penny Weaver
(She/Her)

Girl singing a carol, Fezziwig daughter, Alice, Want, Turkey Girl

Margot waits all year to get back on stage for this show, she started playing Tiny Tim when she was 5 and knows almost every line. She'd like to play this play until she's played all the parts. When not playing on stage you can find her tearing through the neighborhood on rollerblades with her dog, Lucca, or playing soccer like a champ, or reading every novel she can get her hands on.

Mila Kashiwabara (She/Her)

Girl singing a carol, Fezziwig daughter, Alice, Want, Turkey Girl

Mila is thrilled to be back at the Portland Playhouse as part of the cast for A Christmas Carol! Her previous Playhouse appearances include the role of Young Lucius in Titus Adronicus (2022), Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol (2019), Peter Cratchit (and others) in A Christmas Carol (2021), and the role of Oli in the filmed piece 545 (2020). She has studied acting and musical theatre at OCT, NWCT, Acting for Kids and Teens and also participated in the MADE for Kids Summer Theatre Program. Currently she is a member of the NWCT Catalyst Company. When she isn’t acting, she can be found dancing, researching fashion trends, drawing and debating with La’ Tevin backstage about Avatar: The Last Airbender. She would like to thank Brian for this opportunity, the cast and crew for being so nice, and her family for their support. She hopes you enjoy the show!

Victoria L.
(She/Her)

Fezziwig guest, Willie, Ignorance

Victoria is a a little entertainer by nature, her first debut in acting was at 9mo old. She is thrilled for her 4th season with A Christmas Carol! Off the stage she enjoys art, cooking, reading & spending time with her dog

Zahara Beamer
(She/Her)

Fezziwig guest, Willie, Ignorance

Zahara is in fifth grade at Kairos PDX Learning Academy. This is her first full length play. This play makes her think about the joyous and cozy feeling of Christmas. Zahara hopes everyone has/has had happy holidays. She enjoys acting, crafts, and animals. Zahara would like to give a shout out to everyone here to support me – Hi friends and family!!

Aevah Leigh Gardner (She/Her)

Boy Scrooge, Fezziwig guest, Tim

Aevah was born into a family of Theatre Artists. At the age of 3, Aevah performed in the Fertile Ground Festival of New Works Theatre Festival. At 4 years of age, she made her stage debut with the Portland Playhouse as part of Joy Comes In The Mourning; later cast for the role of Tiny Tim for the theatre's Christmas Production of A Christmas Carol.

Now, in Kindergarten, at the age of 5, Aevah has appeared on stage, alongside her mother, aunts, and grandmother, in Oregon's Juneteenth Celebration Festival. She is a member of DanceWorks Performing Arts Rockstar Dance Company, where she studies and performs Tap, Ballet, Jazz, Hip-Hop, African, Lyrical, and Contemporary dance styles.  When Aevah is not performing you can find her either painting, in the kitchen helping her mom or cuddling with her puppy Hershey. “I was born a Queen, and I have no  choice but to be    excellent!” – Aevah Leigh Gardner.

James Lovely
(He/Him)

Boy Scrooge, Fezziwig guest, Tim

James is a really good dancer, and a fast runner. He loves Sonic the Hedgehog and pretending to be just like him. James enjoys playing with his lovie Sonic and his toy Lamborghini, Mustang, and Lightning McQueen. James also models and is enjoying being a first grader. And he loves his mama.

Shirley Bardone
(She/Her)

Understudy & Swing

Shirley is a storyteller, musician, writer and educator, currently living and adventuring in Portland. A Christmas Carol is a particularly special production to her, as she and her family spent ten years in London, and Christmas brings back special Dickensian memories. Also special about A Christmas Carol is that stories which intertwine redemption, hope and love are the very best, in her humble opinion. When not on call, she can be found outdoors, hiking or running in the forest… or curled up on the couch with a cat, reading a book.

Brave Sohacki (They/Them/Us/We)

Understudy & Swing

Brave has had the privilege of training with Double Edge Theatre of MA, PETE and The Actors Conservatory of PDX, and Stella Adler Conservatory of NY. They consider themselves a ceremonialist and storyteller, and are grateful for the ways in which the communities of beloved queer friends, elders, and family have encouraged them to share their joy with the world. Brave is thrilled to be here collaborating with the ensemble of A Christmas Carol at Portland Playhouse, an aspiration they’ve had since they began their actor’s journey four years ago. Most recently they had a hand in devising an original protest play, [de]composition, performed at Shaking the Tree. They are highly motivated to find our story in the body, explore our interrelated emotional beings, and celebrate everything along the way. Find out what’s next for them @bravezamogogo on IG. 



Mingus Smithingham
(He/Him)

Youth Understudy

Mingus is excited to learn his first play as the understudy for this show. He's a bright 4th grader with a big heart and vibrant imagination. His favorite activities include playing soccer for the Saints, building Lego, and playing video games. Have a great holiday season!

CREATIVE TEAM

Brian Weaver
(He/Him)

Director

Brian co-founded Portland Playhouse in 2008 with Nikki and his brother Michael, and has directed the productions of Scarlet, Peter and the Starcatcher, A Christmas Carol, Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play, Radio Golf, Gem of the Ocean, Angels in America, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Dying City, Detroit, The Light in the Piazza, After Ashley, and bobrauschenbergamerica. Regional credits include Third Rail Repertory, Intiman Theatre Company, Shakespeare & Company, Berkshire Theatre Festival, The Idaho Shakespeare Festival, and Seattle Public Theatre. Brian loves being a working dad- sharing time between the theatre and parenting Margot and Elliette alongside the love of his life, Nikki. When not in Portland, you can find him on any stream, mountain, or forest trail. He also serves on the Board of Outside In, helping homeless youth and other marginalized people move towards improved health and self-sufficiency.

Benjamin Tissell
(He/Him)

Music Director

Benjamin is a Portland-based actor, director and musician. Locally, he has performed at Portland Center Stage, Portland Playhouse, Third Rail Repertory, Broadway Rose, Lakewood Theatre Company, Pixie Dust Productions, and others. Ben is also songwriter with music on Spotify and iTunes, and currently teaches and directs at George Fox University. You can follow Ben's upcoming projects and creative work at bentissell.com. He is overjoyed to be returning to this beautiful story with this beautiful company!

Cycerli Ash
(She/Her)

Dance Choreographer

Cycerli (@Cycerli) was last seen at Portland Playhouse as the Director of Chicken & Biscuits, and before that as Ebenezer Scrooge in last year's A Christmas Carol. She is truly humbled and honored to reprise her role of Scrooge in this year's rendition of A Christmas Carol. She portrayed Cynthia in Sweat at Profile theater and all four ghosts of A Christmas Carol at Portland Playhouse before the pandemic. She was rehearsing as Vera in Seven Guitars at Passin Arts when they were forced to close because of the pandemic. She played multiple roles in A Life at Portland Center Stage and Risa in Two Trains Running at Passin Arts. She is the CEO of the faith-based theater company called DAE productions and is currently a professor at Portland State University. She has been seen on TVone, BET, Amazon prime  and Freeform. She has worked for The Red Door Project, Kenny Leon True Colors, The Alliance theater, Dominion, Clarence Brown theater, and the Denver Center. She gives all glory to God and is very blessed to do what she loves for a living. Cycerli went to Rutgers University on a track scholarship while majoring in theater and received her master’s in acting from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Solomon Weisbard ~
(He/Him)

Lighting Designer

Originally from Portland, Solomon has created original works in drama, opera, dance, installation, and music across the U.S., Canada, Dominican Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Russia, and Slovenia. Highlights include Otello (Festspielhaus Baden Baden, Germany); Il Trovatore (Teatro Comunale di Bologna and Teatro Regio di Parma, Italy);  Oedipus (Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, Greece; Ancient Theatre of Pompeii, Teatro Olimpico di Vicenza, and Teatro Mercadante di Napoli, Italy) all with Robert Wilson; Macbeth (directed by John Doyle at Classic Stage Company, NYC); The Shape of Things (created by Carrie Mae Weems at the Park Avenue Armory, NYC); Duat (Soho Rep, NYC); and Men on Boats (World Premiere: Playwrights Horizons/Clubbed Thumb, NYC). Solomon is Assistant Professor of Scenic/Lighting Design at Portland State University and earned his MFA from the Yale School of Drama. www.solweisbard.com

Dayna Lucas
(She/Her)

Costumer

Dayna's past work includes: A Noise Within Theater (Pasadena, CA): Argonautika (2019),  FILM/TV: Bilal's Stand (Film), Babysitter's Black Book (TV) among others. Education: BA, Communication/Film—University of Michigan; Fashion Design—FIDM,  Dayna is very honored and thrilled to be the Costumer for Portland Playhouse’s production of A Christmas Carol, and she appreciates the love and support from her family and friends.

 

Maia Denzler ^
(She/Her)

Assistant Costumer

Maia is a textile and theater artist based in the Portland metro area. She is an Honors graduate of Portland State University in Theater Arts (BA) and Music Composition (BM) and was a member of the Season 14 Apprentice Company at Portland Playhouse. Currently her work is on display at the Portland State University Lincoln Hall Gallery as part of the art installation The Born Project (www.thebornproject.org). Further examples of her work can be found at www.maiadenzler.com.

Ryann St Julien
(They/He)

Prop Manager/Run Crew

Ryann is a theatre technician based in Portland, Oregon.  They recently received a B.A. in theater from Lewis and Clark College, where their credits include props master for The Secretaries, (Lewis and Clark College); and Medea (Lewis and Clark College).  They were a member of the scene shop crew for Lewis and Clark productions of Medea, Passion Play, The Secretaries, Cabaret, The Christians, Stupid Fucking Bird, and Sweeney Todd.  They have worked around Portland on productions such as King of the Yees (Profile Theater), The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Profile Theater), Chicken and Biscuits (Portland Playhouse), and Home/Land (Hand2Mouth). They are excited to work with the Portland Playhouse community on this year’s production of A Christmas Carol and help continue the tradition. 

Keela Johnson MS (She/Her)

Cultural Competency and Creative Consultant

Keela works as a Cultural Competency Consultant for Portland Playhouse. She began her work in this role during the 21/22 production season and is continuing in her role for the 22/23 season. Keela also works as a private consultant for non-profit and other organizations, as well as an educator at Portland State University. She specializes in institutional, structural, and inter/intrapersonal oppressive ideologies, frameworks, policies, and narratives with an emphasis on healing spaces for all.  Her work over the past 7 years with Portland Playhouse has consisted of providing workshops and other facilitations for staff, critical dialogic spaces for the greater community and critical dialogic spaces for affinity groups. She is moving into her second production year in this role and is so happy, honored and humbled to be on this wonderful journey.

Cassie Greer*
(She/Her)

Stage Manager & Dialect Coach

Cassie is grateful to be celebrating the season with this fantastic cast and crew – and you! – here at the Playhouse! A theater-maker-of-all-trades, Cassie received her training in the MFA Acting program at Florida Atlantic University; the BA Theatre, History, and Music programs at Goshen College; and in the 9th Certification group of Fitzmaurice Voicework® teachers. She has worked professionally around the country as a stage manager, actor, director, designer, administrator, educator, and facilitator. In the Portland area, she spent 11 years with Bag&Baggage Productions, working on more than 30 shows and serving as Artistic Director from 2019-2022. Find details on her various interests and projects past, present, and future at cassiegreer.com. Huge love and thanks to the Playhouse team, and to her family and friends around the country for their continual love, support, and energy. @cassiegreer

Thyra Hartshorn*
(She/Her)

Assistant Stage Manager & Associate Lighting Designer

Thyra is a production manager, stage manager and technical director. Her training includes an MFA in production and design with a concentration in stage management from the University of California, Irvine, as well as almost two decades in ballet production. Thyra has toured and worked with companies around the world including San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and the Bolshoi Ballet. Locally she’s also worked with Oregon Ballet Theatre, Profile Theatre, White Bird, Portland Taiko and Northwest Dance Project. Thyra has taught high school stagecraft as well as college-level stage management locally.

Sam Kemp
(She/Her)

Assistant Lighting Designer

Born in Lindenhurst, New York and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Sam has always managed to weasel her way into artful spaces despite cultural pressures to conform to more traditional expectations. While attending the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, Sam served as a member and leader of the Costume, Makeup and Hair crews for ten productions at the Academy, including Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, and Shakespeare's Macbeth. Sam is now double-majoring in Psychology and Communications at Portland State University. Now in her fifth and final year, she has returned to her theatre roots and discovered a passion for lighting design. She recently served as Assistant Lighting Designer for PSU's production of Frontières Sans Frontières, and is excited to work on future projects. In her free time, you can find her collecting Pokemon cards, hiking solo, or laying in a hammock somewhere.

Jasmyn Tilford ^
(She/Her)

Assistant Stage Manager

Jasmyn  is a multidisciplinary artist. You may have seen her previously on the Portland Playhouse stage as Mrs. Dinwiddie/Ensemble in Bella: An American Tall Tale, and Dick Wilkins and Edna in A Christmas Carol. Other roles of hers include Willow Gravis in Retribution, Peace/Chorus in Lysistrata, and Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors. She is currently a company member of Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre. Jasmyn is grateful and full of joy to be a part of another year of A Christmas Carol. She thanks her friends and family for their continued support and love towards her career, passions and artistry. And she thanks this marvelous cast, crew and creative team for this lovely experience. “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”– Lena Horne

Allison Blaine
(She/Her)

Assistant Lighting Designer/Head Electrician

Allison is a lighting designer around the Portland area, in theatre, dance, and performance art. Recent designs include The Winter's Tale with the Portland Shakespeare Project, Camelot with the Lakewood Center for the Arts, and Open Space Dance's first company performance, Sheen. In addition to design work, Allison is the Playhouse's lead electrician, and this fall was the lighting lead for the 2022 Time Based Art Festival at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.

Tabitha Wells-Benitez
(She/Her)

Child Wrangler

Tabitha is so excited and grateful to be returning to this beautiful production. Past theater performances include Annie Get Your Gun and A Christmas Story: The Musical (Elsinore Theatrical Productions), The Peppermint Bear (Lakewood Theatre), Hello Dolly! (Nutz-n-Boltz Theater Company), and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. When not performing, Tabitha is also a student at Corban University majoring in Psychology with an emphasis in Family Studies and is the Early Childhood Coordinator at New Hope in Portland. She would like to thank the artistic team for this amazing opportunity, and her
family for their love and support.

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