This eight day Festival celebrates the Festival of Judah Maccabbee over the Greeks. He and his troops recaptured the holy Temple in Jerusalem which the Greeks had defiled in one of its attempts to ‘Hellanise’ the Jews. In order to  re-consecrate the Temple, holy oil was needed to light and clean the Temple for a period of eight days. Judah found only one vial of oil, enough insufficiently for one day. By a divine miracle the oil lasted for the requisite eight days.

To this day Jews all over the world, by lighting the eight pronged candelabra called a Hanukkiah. Each night a candle is added until the final night when all flames are ablaze. Continue reading HANUKKAH – THE JEWISH FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS


Held at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, this exhibition covers two million years of human history in one hall.

It started  out as a joint project of BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum compromising of a 100 part Radio Series written and presented by the British Museum’s Director Neil MacGregor. At least one of his selections, the Rosetta stone is not in this exhibition, but Australia has two exhibits – an ancient Aboriginal basket, and the wifi machine prototype invented by the CSIRO, Object No 101.

The History demonstrates how we have shaped the world and how it shapes us. The Objects come from all over the globe, often demonstrating how trade or a conquest influences the local indigenous art. Continue reading A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 100 OBJECTS @ THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AUSTRALIA


Days Like This is a one-day boutique electronic music festival set to vivify Sydney. Immersive, yet subtle, loose, yet sophisticated, Days Like This has a sharp taste for discerning electronic music, and a penchant for glorious food and arts. With a forward-looking music policy, the four main stages will present a fresh perspective of the very best in electronic music, whilst the event precinct will offer a creative hub featuring bars, market stalls and premium food options: A tasteful menu of glorious food and amazing arts await those who enter. Immersed within the plush surroundings of Royal Randwick prepare for a day and night of musical exploration.

11 March 2017 @ Randwick Racecourse

For more about Days Like This Festival 2017, visit http://www.dayslikethisfestival.com.au/
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Rose Matafeo (NZ) – Sassy Best Friend @ the Enmore Theatre

Sassy best friend (sas-ee best frend)
1. A sidekick to the main character in a romantic comedy;
2. not conventionally attractive, quirky, hard to love;
3. sometimes not white, often gay.

New Zealand  comedian Rose Matafeo makes her Sydney Comedy Festival debut an hour of sketch and stand up inspired by her long time obsession with romantic comedies and her favourite female film heroes. Sassy Best Friend is a show about friendship, finding confidence as a young woman and then ultimately giving up on your dreams.

2016 NOMINEE Best Newcomer Melbourne International Comedy Festival ★★★★★ – Telegraph

“a stellar debut: silly, charismatic, and packed with great gags” – The Guardian

11 – 14 May, 2017 / 7:00pm  at the Enmore Theatre, Newtown

For more about Rose Matafeo (NZ) – Sassy Best Friend, visit http://www.sydneycomedyfest.com.au/single-event?show_id=1628
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Terrapin Puppet Theatre presents sixty minutes of charming, poignant theatre, with this production, playing as part of this years’ Sydney Festival.

Written by Finegan Kruckemeyer and directed by Sam Routledge, the tale is told through the words of 12 year-old Eve, the narrator/actor (Raelee Hill). She is supported by a digital artist (Cathy Wilcox), a composer/multi-instrumentalist (Dean Stevenson) and a projectionist/ puppeteer (Felicity Horsley) with overall design by Jonathan Oxlade.

“In the ocean stood an island” narrates Eve a child who unlike other Proud Circle Islanders wonders about things beyond the island. She describes life on the Proud Circle Island as it is concurrently illustrated by a digital artist with cartoon characters projected on a white back sheet.

Proud Circle Island life is changed when the Island springs a leak. There is debate over the cause and solution. After several attempts to work things out internally, they row the Island into other Island’s waters.

Eve is the one who comes up with the best idea for rescuing the Proud Circle, and it is children who make first direct contact with the people of the Long Cliff, the land which provides refuge for Proud Circle.

The story is told by narration and digital cartooning. A projectionist shines the spotlight on areas under focus. Puppetry is used to add characters and ocean swell in the foreground. There is ingenious use of a paper set that is shaped, torn, mended and moved in serious childlike play. A multi-instrumentalist provides the appropriate soundscape. Continue reading YOU AND ME AND THE SPACE BETWEEN @ THE SEYMOUR CENTRE


Firstly, a belated Happy New Year  to my colleagues and readers of this esteemed journal. 

Over the years one has seen the Foti family have had the budget for the New Year’s display reduced. Fireworks used to explode off high rise CBD towers including Centrepoint and from North Sydney. My recollection was that the fireworks also lasted longer.

However what the Fotis lack in budget, the Foti family compensated in ingenuity, coming up with new shapes, patterns, to vividly paint the night sky. Continue reading NEW YEAR’S EVE 2017 SYDNEY


Ockham’s Razor is a London based performance company who are back for the Sydney Festival. Patrons who saw them in 2014 will have some idea what to expect, though this is a very different show. The philosophical concept Ockham’s Razor is often minimalised to … the simplest answer is probably true. But more interestingly it originally translated as something like … to solve a problem don’t allow too many options. This influential and internationally recognised company have most certainly taken that advice to heart. Continue reading TIPPING POINT @ THE SPAGHETTI CIRCUS BIG TOP PARRAMATTA


Ichabod loses his sister, and on the journey to find her, Faces his biggest fear – water.

Assisted by an senile knight who refuses to take off his armour, an all knowing barge captain and a bucket-wielding water-thief, Ichabod traverses swamps, ravines and crosses bridges and cities in his quest for his sister. The tale follows Ichabod’s journey to find what he’s really looking for – love, hope and above all, courage. Continue reading THE TALE OF ICHABOD SCRUBB @ THE BLOOD MOON THEATRE


A little bit of 1940’s heaven can be found at the Ku-ring-gai Art Centre and Gallery where a retrospective of Ann Milch’s art is being held.

The Centre is a large weatherboard cottage which contains a workshop and hanging space for local artists. It is set beside a lovely little park and in keeping with the 1940’s allusion, lawn tennis courts! Continue reading ANN MILCH’S RETROSPECTIVE @ KU-RING-GAI ART CENTRE AND GALLERY


The Parkes Elvis Festival is held in the 2nd week of January to coincide with Elvis’ January 8th birthday. It was started 25 years ago by some Elvis fans who ran the Graceland Restaurant when at that time of year, tourists were non existent.

Elvis had an early hit with Mystery Train, whose lyrics inspired indie writer/director Jim Jarmusch to make a cult film with the same name, but the Elvis Express is anything but enigmatic.

The exuberance, joie de vivre and sense of anticipation at Central Station on January 12th was infectious. Thousands of fans lined up, first to be entertained by some excellent Elvis impersonators and then to queue for the rebranded XPT.

The variety of costumes of the train travellers to Parkes, would have added a riot of colour to the 150 events with this year’s theme – Viva Las Vegas.

The town’s population triples, as 25,000 visitors are hosted by a majority of Parkes’ 12,000 residents.

All images by Ben Apfelbaum (c).



The young, fit, highly trained human body is capable of astonishing things.

Circa is a very exciting Brisbane based company.  HUMANS asks what it means to be human. How much weight do we carry? Who can we trust to support our load? It leads us to reflect on our lives, our loved ones, the burdens we carry and the physical and emotional strength it takes to overcome them.

Directed and created by Yaron Lifschitz, HUMANS, performed in the round at the Spaghetti Circus Big Top is a breathtaking combination of acrobatics, contortionism , tumbling, balancing, aerial trapeze, handstands and back flips.

Contact improvistaion, pyramid building, banquine and risley, and hand-to -hand partnering are also featured and strikingly blended with elements of contemporary dance.

At times the audience audibly gasps. There is no real narrative, rather a fluid sequence of various dazzling and surprising interactions combining various finely honed circus skills.

There is much use of haze and the lighting is delicately, warmly vibrant and atmospheric.

The scintillating cast of ten wear a uniform of autumn/russet coloured shorts/leotards and a semi -transparent black top. They wear ankle and/or wrist supports .Some have tattoos,

At the beginning the cast wear casual street clothes and have fun rolling acrobatically twisting in and out of them.

There is a fiercely tender and intimate sense of trust between the cast – some of the lifts, drops, throws ,twists and catches,  let alone the pyramid balancing, are extraordinary.

HUMANS is full of hot and sweaty bodies in explosive, movement , leaping, twisting ,twirling jumping, somersaulting ,precariously balancing , intimately entwined , swooping and swinging from a trapeze , dragged by the hair, sliding across the stage and  forming sculptural poses,

One hilarious sequence that had the audience in rapture was where the cast twisted and bent in almost impossible shapes attempting to lick their elbow. Floating balancing lifts in other sections are contrasted with this A breath, a clap, a bend of the knee,  a beautifully flexed and pointed foot or extended arm are all important .

With astonishing strength, grace, agility and integrity, each moment is seamlessly connected.

The relentless, pulsating soundscape varied from an assortment of popular songs to music theatre standards to techno thump to the sound of a single clap..

The almost hysterical standing ovation at the end was richly deserved.

Running time – 80 minutes without interval.

HUMANS, presented  by Circa, is playing atat the Spaghetti Circus Big Top,  Prince Alfred Square Parramatta up until 19th January.


Deserving of a lion’s share of both box office booty and award adulation, LION is a raw and roaring tale of loss and recovery across two continents and twenty five years.

Saroo is a five year old scamp living with his mother and older brother in a rural village of India. One day, he accompanies his brother in search of work in a town quite a journey from his village.

Travel tired, he is told to rest and not to move at the railway station. Searching for a comfortable cocoon in which to slumber, Saroo cradles inside a carriage. On wakening, he finds himself on a train destination unknown, and not knowing how long or how far he has travelled.

The traverse seems as big as the universe and he is delivered to a big city, time and distance unbeknown to the little tacker. Lost, bewildered, traumatised, he has a string of misadventures before finding himself in an orphanage and finally into the safe haven of adoptive parents.

The trans sub continental train ride seems infinitesimal compared to his final destination, the great Australian footnote state of Tasmania.

And so Saroo grows into adulthood under the adoring care of mother and father and saddled with another Indian orphan as surrogate sibling.

Torn between his devotion to his adoptive parents and a desire to reunite with his biological family, he decides to delve into a bit of detective work to position his present with his past.

The first great Australian film of the year, LION has a pride of talent before and behind the camera. Continue reading LION


Production photography by Grant Leslie.

Meow. Aurilophiles rejoice! The Concourse at Chatswood at the moment is alive with cats – oozing rivers of them, exploring, crawling , stretching, entwining around your feet…

Yes, this is the much loved Andrew Lloyd Webber musical based on TS Elliot’s poems in a very impressive staging. The cast perform with power, passion and commitment. Cameron Boxall and Kira Nelson’s choreography is based on and generally sticks to the original; snazzy, tight,  and demanding.

The production featured a HUGE cast of cats (and kittens. We saw the red cast opening night).  At a couple of points – especially for the mega production numbers – the stage was overcrowded, with cast even overflowing onto the side of the stage.

Packemin’s version, directed by Craig Stewart, is a vibrant production, subtly nuanced with delicately, joyous scenes contrasted with poignant, heart breaking ones.

The deceptively simple scaffolding set with its use of projections (a fabulous moon, trains for Skimbleshanks, a delightful major Asian harbour for Growltiger and Griddlebone) is not the standard dumpster site but is extremely effective.

The thrilling, atmospheric lighting by James Wallis was splendid.

The orchestra under the baton of maestros Peter Hayward and Alex Ash, hidden from the public eye, was in fine form.  There was no acknowledgement at the curtain call- a little disappointing.

Audrey Currie’s multi layered, variously textured costumes were very exciting.

Munkustrap, who In some ways acts as the show’s narrator, was excellently portrayed by the lean, lithe Noah Gill Mullins, 

Simon Price (yes, the Red Wiggle) is in excellent form as enchanting Old Deuteronomy, leader of the Jellicle cats, and showcases a fabulous voice.

Josh Ridge as the charismatic, ultra sexy Rum Tum Tugger, has glorious fun prowling and hogging the stage and making all his teen cat followers swoon and scream.  (I was pleased that this version returned to the old ‘standard’ version of his song and not the rap version that was performed in the recent version of Cats at the Capitol.

Skimbleshanks, the fussy Railway Cat, was delightfully portrayed by Daniel WIjngaarden.

The Cockney thieving team of Rumpleteazer and Mungojerrie was enchantingly portrayed by Laura Bunting and Jamie Smith in an acrobatic semi musical act.

Our Grizabella, in tattered purple satin, a red gash for a mouth and streaked eyes, was given a striking, poignant performance by Harmony Lovegrove. Her signature song Memory was sung  wistfully and brought the house down.

The Puccini tribute,  Growltiger’s Last Stand, was thrillingly performed,  and Growltiger, with his piratical eye patch, was wonderfully played by Cameron Barjaktarevic- Hayward.

The enchanting minx Griddlebonee was delightfully played by Kirralee Elliott (Is she as innocent and lovely as she seems, or is she in fact in league with Growltiger’s enemies?).

The battle of the Pekes and The Pollicles was much fun, as was Jennyanydots’ Beetle Tattoo as led by Lana Domeney.

Magical Mister Mistoffelees,  with his starry, spangly black jacket, was terrifically played by Noah Godsell.

The sultry trio of Jellylorm, (Katia van Hilten), Demeter(Giorgia Kennedy) and Bomburalina (Chloe Malek) was splendid, especially in the hot jazz/torch song number, the breathless Macavity (purr).

Overall, a splendid, delightful version that captivates and enchants.

Running time two hours thirty minutes including one interval.

CATS is playing at the Concourse at Chatswood till the 28th January 2017.



It’s often said that the opening credits of a film tell the story.  A MILLION HAPPY NOWS begins with a short journey through a glare filled  garden of jagged branches into an indistinct  washed out, white walled home through a room in chaos to a terrible fear associated with the precipice-like drop from a balcony.   

The traveller under the credit roll is Eva Morales (Jessica Leccia) but she is not the only voyager of the film.  Her partner is Lainey Allen (Crystal Chappell), a woman of a certain age, a Soap Opera TV star, the winner of an Emmy and a woman with secrets.  Not just the ten year love story between she and Eva but her secret fear that there is a looming health crisis.  The bright lights and sudden flashes of the ever-present cameras worry her, lines are not “sticking” and names and recent events seem to be lost.  Lainey suddenly quits a 20 year career and moves with Eva to the isolation of a house above a beach and a small town.

Playing as part of Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras Film Festival, this film is a labour of love and it’s there in every frame and every word.  Written by Marisa Calin, actress and writer… she is the author of the respected YA novel BETWEEN YOU AND ME… it is a story close to home.  Calin’s grandmother suffers from Alzheimer’s and she created the production company Perfect Pictures in 2014 to ensure the story was told. Continue reading A MILLION HAPPY NOWS


You know you have been teaching too long when edu-speak is pounding in your head.  Resilience – it’s been a pedagogic catch cry for a decade or so and it’s there front and centre of my mind as I watch CHECK IT, a film for the Queer Screen curated Mardi Gras Film Festival.

How do these young people survive?  They are the product of generations of drug affected parents, they live in a city with one of the highest rates of violence against LGBTQ people, they have no experience of education or mainstream employment yet this significant documentary exists to showcase their resilience, sense of community and seeks to empower their prospects. Continue reading CHECK IT : SCREENING AS PART OF THIS YEAR’S MARDI GRAS FILM FESTIVAL


BIG CROW by Mark Langham is based, loosely, on a true story.

In the early 1930’s two young Londoners ground down by poverty, Tommy and Albie, were offered a spur of the moment trip to Australia. No sooner had they landed than they were taken to work as virtual slaves on a huge station, completely at the mercy of the station owner Roy, a man who’s life has been a stream of disappointments.

Tommy is a weasel; swift, cunning and potentially fatal. Albie could crush you with his kindness, but only if Tommy told him to… and their desperation has led them to a decision – they’re going to kill Roy. Roy’s wife and daughter disturb the murder but are far more interested in watching than saving him. The murder is put on hold and a dialogue begins. Continue reading MARK LANGHAM’S ‘BIG CROW’ COMING TO THE ACTOR’S PULSE THEATRE, REDFERN



KALEIDOSCOPE is fast paced,  high-energy exuberant school holiday entertainment, a multi-faceted circus experience, just perfect for a pre-teen audience.

With her young son Ethan Inspiring the creation of this work on stage, Ethan’s mother wrote a book that described stepping into her son’s  world as like, “the joy of walking through shafts of colour and light; like seeing through a dazzling kaleidoscope”.

When four years of age, Ethan Hugh was diagnosed with “Asperger Syndrome”. He is now twelve years old, and he has learned to understand the incredible beauty of his world discovered through touch. With this show you too can view how to enjoy living life through young Ethan’s eyes.

The show features five speech-free silent circus performers on stage with Ethan, with pre-recorded musical accompaniment and with some voice-overs from Ethan.

The five circus performers and Ethan, are seen slowly awakening from sleep on a huge video wall, then they perform tumbling mimed slapstick acrobatics as they start their day and then go to perform somersaults, flips, back-flips, back-bends, bridges, kick-overs, handstands, front-handsprings, back-handsprings, side aerial cartwheels, turning-cartwheels, in short all manner of acrobatics as they each change out of their pajamas and into their street wear.

Two pole-dancing risk-taking gymnasts, climbed the pole all the way to the ceiling, and then spun and dropped down at high speed.

Attached to the rigging, suspended from the ceiling, was a single tab aerial hoop-ring without a hand-loop. The hoop-ring aerialist was lifted by her troupe up to the hoop-ring, and then she delivered an awe-inspiring performance, with elegance strength and power, as she looped climbed spun, creating a clever aerial dance movement experience that regularly gained oohs and aahs from the audience.

A surprising pillow fight, lead to thousands of feathers flying everywhere which was delightfully followed by loud screaming from the boisterous young audience.

Whilst the silk aerialist is seated and playing music on a toy piano, Ethan decides to paint her feet red, and her arms yellow and orange. She then climbs the two white silks to perform aerial acrobatics, and while hanging from the fabric, wraps, drops, rolls, spins, climbs, all of which turned the white silks into a fantasy matrix of superb dazzling colours that was yet another great audience pleaser.

The shown ran for 50 minutes without interval.

Highly recommended, KALEIDOSCOPE plays the Lennox Theatre at Parramatta Riverside Theatres until the 18th January 2017.   The theatre is located on the corner of Church and Market Streets, Parramatta, NSW.

Remaining performances :-

Tuesday 17 January at 3.30pm
Wednesday 18 January at 6.15pm




Unofficial and unauthorised, Ian Nathan’s TIM BURTON: The Iconic Film Maker and His Work is a handsome and illustriously illustrated study of the creator of Frankenweenie and Edward Scissorhands, to name just two iconic characters conjured by one of the most curious movie directors in contemporary cinema.

In his introduction, Nathan writes that, partly, the endeavour of the book is to describe the advent of the adjective Burtonesque. “If you use the word Burtonesque any film fan will know exactly what you are saying.”

Undeniably, there is a distinctive look to Tim Burton’s films, and like all great cineasts, image takes primary over narrative. Ian Nathan has had the great good sense of papering this book with images, and let his subject do the heavy lifting, sometimes in his own words, sometimes by his colleagues and collaborators. Continue reading ‘TIM BURTON: THE ICONIC FILM MAKER AND HIS WORK’ BY IAN NATHAN


Climbing up the small flight of stairs to the Stables theatre I was more than a little curious as to what kind of experience we were about to get with this first Stables (independent) show for the year.

As scenarios go this was pretty left field. A ballet performance of Swan Lake begins. A dancer pirouettes across the stage unaware that a vampire lurks in the front row. Like a bolt of lightning the vampire jumps out of the front row and attacks the dancer, pouncing on him and administering a fatal bite….

Folks, the show, needless to say, does not die along with the dancer. Our vampire is a frustrated dancer and for that matter romantic, and he decides that it is the perfect time for him to act, to dance and to take over the show. Continue reading NOSFERATUTU @ THE STABLES THEATRE


The old timers, especially flyers, often talk about it. So do the trap catchers, slack and tight walkers even modern aerialists on silks and rings and Chinese poles. They will tell you about the people with terminal illnesses who seek them out after a show. Who thank them for confronting the unknown beyond, for staring mortality down. iD, from Canada’s Cirque Éloize as part of the Sydney Festival, is vibrant and exciting, thrilling and skilful. It’s fantastically entertaining fun but the finale is that rare moment when the physical gives way to the spiritual. When human beings are suspended for just that second of time between corporeal and divine. Continue reading CANADA’S CIRQUE ELOIZE PRESENTS ‘iD’ @ RIVERSIDE THEATRES PARRAMATTA



This is madcap, exuberant fun, making for marvelous school holiday fare. It is a high energy dance, techno and visual spectacular direct from Japan and these shows in Sydney are their only Australian performances.

The award-winning dance troupe have taken the world by storm, attracting millions of views on YouTube following their appearances on America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent.

SIRO_A’s unique combination of energetic dance and ground-breaking video-mapping technology – alongside a pulsating techno beat – creating an audio-visual spectacle that appeals to audiences of all ages.

Their name SIRO-A (SIRO = White, colorless in Japanese) means “belonging to no group, impossible to define as anybody.” SIRO-A fuses mime, groundbreaking visual effects, and a techno soundtrack to create a whole new entertainment, “Technodelic & Visual Show. Continue reading SIRO – A @ THE CONCOURSE CHATSWOOD


One of the eagerly anticipated cinema releases of this month is LION starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman. For those who missed his previous film, THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY, there is now the opportunity of catching up with this woefully underrated gem.Infinitely fine film that makes maths add up to a grand sum of entertainment.

Writer/Director Matthew Brown’s THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY shows all the pluses and none of he minuses in a sterling piece of bio-pic the equal of, if not superior to, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything.

Beginning in Colonial India, 1913 we are introduced to Srinavasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel) a 25-year-old self-taught genius, whose obsessive, solitary study of mathematics compels him to scratch out his calculus on the slate floors of an old temple, not such a strange place considering Ramanujan believed that an equation has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God. Continue reading THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY



HAKAWATI is an Arabic word which translates to “teller of tales”. Stay with me now as, oddly, I quote Dolly Parton from Facebook in 2010 “My weaknesses have always been food and men – in that order”. Go Dolly!

Moving on. We all have our weaknesses and I also have food at the head of my own list. But next in line for me is stories… old, new, sad, uplifting, about my world, about other lives … I don’t have a preference. How intrigued was I then to hear about HAKAWATI, playing in Parramatta as part of the Sydney Festival!

Created and directed by Wayne Harrison this is an experience which is intimate and alive: the food is delicious and the storytelling expert. Continue reading HAKAWATI @ EL PHONECIAN RESTAURANT PARRAMATTA


The Omega Ensemble’s upcoming concert features this tantalising program : –

Debussy – String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10
Ben Hoadley – Clarinet Quintet World Premiere
Haydn – String Quartet Op. 64, No. 5 ‘The Lark’
Mozart – Clarinet Quintet in A major, K. 581

Of Haydn’s eighty-three string quartets The Lark is a perfect representative of the entire genre. Like the majority of string quartets throughout the history of the form, its four movements provide a superior entertainment in four acts, aptly described as ‘a story, a song, a dance and a party.’ Continue reading THE OMEGA ENSEMBLE PRESENTS ‘HAYDN AND MOZART’ @ THE UTZON ROOM



The biggest little play festival in the world. 2017 and this is the sixteenth year of SHORT+SWEET THEATRE SYDNEY, running Wednesdays to Sundays, from 11th January 2017 to 18th March 2017.

In March 2017 the best of the best are returning for the Special Event Shows, and the long awaited 2017 Gala Final performances on 16 17 18 March 2017.

Short and Sweet Festival Director, Wayne Tunks, has selected an excellent first week of thought provoking plays, and very easy to recommend, with nine brand new plays, all well worth experiencing:-


1 – Heat Visions
Written and Directed by Nick Subjak
Cast: Alice Furze
Superb comedy monologue in one voice, was an absolutely huge audience pleaser. Bright red full-body sunburn hurts, and the simple task of eating a bowl of cereal, collapses into trying to move close enough to try to open the cereal container. Continue reading SHORT+SWEET 2017 TOP 80 : WEEK ONE @ THE DEPOT THEATRE

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