“MASTER HAROLD” . . . AND THE BOYS Apartheid in South Africa is a thing of the past, but Athol Fugard’s 1982 classic about racial hatred and human compassion hasn’t dated, and Gloucester Stage Company’s production boasts a fabulously detailed set and searing performances from Johnny Lee Davenport as Sam, Anthony Wills Jr. as Willie (inset far left, with Davenport), and Peter Mark Kendall as Hally. Through Aug. 12. Gloucester Stage Company, Gloucester. 978-281-4433, www.gloucesterstage.org JEFFREY GANTZ
CORIOLANUS A gripping, full-blooded production, directed by Steven Maler and led by Nicholas Carrière as the title character, a military man whose valor in battle is matched only by his hubris. Through Aug. 12. Presented by Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. At Parkman Bandstand, Boston Common. Free. 617-426-0863, www.commshakes.org
BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL A coal miner’s son makes the life-changing discovery that he has a gift for dance. Director Stephen Daldry and librettist Lee Hall do not allow the plight of Billy’s family and community to recede from view, even as this show tracks Billy’s attempt to land an audition at the Royal Ballet School. Featuring a score of surprising rigor and grit by Elton John. Through Aug. 19. Presented by Broadway in Boston. At Boston Opera House. 800-982-2787, www.broadwayinboston.com
THE TEMPEST Under the direction of Tony Simotes, her onetime student, Olympia Dukakis portrays the island magician Prospera as ambivalent about her powers right from the start, lending an elegiac aura to this solid production of a work often seen as Shakespeare’s adieu to the stage. Through Aug. 19. Shakespeare & Company, Lenox.