MIES JULIE In Yael Farber’s adaptation of August Strindberg’s “Miss Julie,’’ set in post-apartheid South Africa, weight of history presses down on the white daughter of an estate owner and her father’s black employee. Hilda Cronje and Bongile Mantsai deliver fearless, can’t-tear-your-eyes-away-from-them performances. Through Dec. 8. ArtsEmerson, Paramount Center Mainstage. 617-824-8400, www.artsemerson.org
A CHRISTMAS STORY, THE MUSICAL There was reason to fret about a musical adaptation of the endearing 1983 film. But the creative team managed to replicate the movie’s cheerfully anarchic spirit. As Ralphie’s father and mother, John Bolton and Erin Dilly deliver standout performances, with solid support by Dan Lauria as Jean Shepherd. Through Dec. 8. Citi Performing Arts Center, Wang Theatre. 866-348-9738, www.citicenter.org
THE COCKTAIL HOUR Though playwright A.R. Gurney should have dug deeper into the issues he raises, especially the question of loyalty to family vs. loyalty to self, this Maria Aitken-directed production succeeds as a briskly entertaining, occasionally touching comedy of manners. Through Dec. 15. Huntington Theatre Company, Boston University Theatre, Boston. 617-266-0800, www.huntingtontheatre.org
VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE Christopher Durang’s broad and scattershot comedy of middle-aged ennui lacks the satiric bite that would make it really top-drawer. But even defanged Durang proves to have its rollicking pleasures in this New England premiere, directed with finesse by Curt Columbus and highlighted by Phyllis Kay as Masha. Through Dec. 22. Trinity Repertory Company, Dowling Theater, Providence. 401-351-4242, www.trinityrep.com
A LITTLE PRINCESS Based on the 1905 children’s classic by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this 2004 musical from Brian Crawley and Andrew Lippa changes the story and leans heavily on Broadway clichés. But the Fiddlehead Theatre presentation is energetic and hard to resist.
Through Dec. 8. Fiddlehead Theatre Company, Strand Theatre, Boston. 781-329-1901, www.fiddleheadtheatre
Don Aucoin can be reached at email@example.com.