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Tina Farmer

The ancient art of folding known as origami starts with a pristine sheet of paper, but as soon as a single score or fold is made, the paper is scarred. Though it can be flattened out again, once folded the sheet is permanently changed, retaining evidence, or memory, of the fold. People can be like that as well, we start out a blank slate but our experiences, happiness and pain alike, leave a mark.

The Fox Theatre kicks off the holiday season with a romantic comedy musical filled with favorite tunes from Irving Berlin's beloved songbook. The Work Light Productions interpretation of the exuberantly positive story and songs rings in the season with a smile.

Tesseract Theatre introduces audiences to the tiny town of Plains Hollow, Missouri in the premier production of "A Mourning Hollow," a gentle, thoughtful play that looks inside the hearts of ordinary people. The town is filled with interesting residents dealing with a variety of emotional situations centered on loss, love, and starting over, creating a mostly cohesive, thematically coherent production.

Clayton Community Theatre shows just how successful community theater can be with a stirring production that demonstrates an appreciation of Wilson's exceptional script and an emotional connection to its themes.

The New Jewish Theatre opens its nineteenth season with the Neil Simon comedy "The Sunshine Boys," a sweet tribute to the era of vaudeville that's also an honest look at aging in an American culture increasingly focused on youth. Engaging performances and a pleasantly amusing script ensure this show is entertaining even for audiences with no recollection of the uniquely American variety of entertainment known as vaudeville.

Stray Dog Theatre takes a chance by opening its season with the little known musical "Dogfight," but it's a risk that pays off handsomely. This poignant coming of age tale unfolds in early 1963, before three young marines head to service and, eventually, Viet Nam. The coming war, and the naiveté of the young recruits, looms large, but in 1963 the conflict was not yet the Viet Nam War as contemporary audiences understand it. "Dogfight" takes place before the protests and the controversy of the draft, when the small Asian country was unknown to most Americans and the situation considered merely a conflict. Even the young recruits are uncertain just where they're headed or why.

St. Louis Shakespeare adds another feather to its brightly decorated cap with their thoroughly enjoyable, visually and emotionally satisfying production of Shakespeare's beloved romantic comedy, "Twelfth Night."

New Line Theatre kicks off its season, the first at their new home in the smartly renovated Marcelle Theater on the east end of Grand Center, with a bang. A little poison and a big bomb are also included in the dark comedy, but it's the heart, and a prescient message about teen isolation, mental health and violence, that may stay with audiences.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis brings its Shakespeare in the Streets performance series to Old North St. Louis in the whimsical "The World Begun." A community partnered interpretation of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," with a time-travel twist, playwright Nancy Bell's story infuses fresh comedy and current life in the neighborhood into one of the Bard's beloved romantic comedies.

St. Louis Actors' Studio opens its ninth season with a show that mines the insecurities, frustrations and sexual tension between a group of young writers. The smartly written script is complemented by solid performances from the ensemble and well-executed, if not always surprising, plot twists.

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