MILDRED FIERCE In Ryan Landry’s dizzily entertaining musical parody of “Mildred Pierce,’’ the sublime Varla Jean Merman devours a signature Joan Crawford role like one of the pies Mildred sells to keep her no-good daughter in the lap of luxury. Pictured (from left): Robin JaVonne-Smith, Laine Binder, Olive Another, Varla Jean Merman, Meredith Langton, and Rosalie Norris. Through March 17. Ryan Landry and the Gold Dust Orphans. At Machine.
CLYBOURNE PARK The fuse is always lit in M. Bevin O'Gara's sharp and penetrating production of Bruce Norris's drama about race and gentrification. A skilled ensemble ensures that the play registers with full force. Through March 30. SpeakEasy Stage Company. Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.speakeasystage.com
REFLECTIONS OF A ROCK LOBSTER Burgess Clark directs his incisive adaptation of Aaron Fricke’s memoir about the personal and legal battle he waged, as a high school student in Cumberland, R.I., to win the right to take his boyfriend to the prom in the spring of 1980. This remount of last year’s production, from a slightly trimmed script, will feature several new cast members. (Reviewed March 2012.) March 9-17. Boston Children’s Theatre. At Wimberly Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.bostonchildrenstheatre.org
MIDDLETOWN Will Eno's sobering gloss on Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" is full of regular-seeming people who over the course of 2½ hours speculate as to what ought to happen between birth and death and gradually begin to connect with one another. The acting is uniformly gratifying, but what makes the Middletown of this production a particularly desirable destination is the imaginative way it's laid out in the playing space. Through March 10. Actors' Shakespeare Project. At Cambridge YMCA Theatre, Cambridge. 866-811-4111, www.actorsshakespeareproject.org
STONES IN HIS POCKETS Marie Jones's darkly funny play about Irish extras in a movie that's being shot in Kerry has two adroit actors playing a total of 15 characters. Phil Tayler and Daniel Berger-Jones move from one person to the next in the blink of an eye, illuminating Jones's essay on what it means to be Irish when Hollywood comes calling. Through March 16. Lyric Stage Company. 617-585-5678, www.lyricstage.com
THE GLASS MENAGERIE John Tiffany’s revival of Tennessee Williams’s semi-autobiographical 1944 play is grounded in the excellence of its four actors, particularly Cherry Jones as faded Southern belle Amanda Wingfield. And by staging the action on a pair of hexagonal platforms that seem to float in time and space, Tiffany reminds us that you can never really leave your family behind. Through March 17. American Repertory Theater. At Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge. 800-547-8300, www.americanrepertorytheater.org
THE IRISH . . . AND HOW THEY GOT THAT WAY Frank McCourt’s celebration, through story and song, of the Irish-American experience and a heritage that confronts adversity with determination, good humor, music, and a love of life. Through April 28. At Davis Square Theatre, Somerville. 800-660-8462, www.frankmccourtstheirish.com
BOSTON BALLET Boston Ballet's adventurous "All Kylián" program presents three ballets never danced by an American company. In addition to compelling and imaginative choreography, expect spectacular sets and music, especially the live performance of Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms." March 7-17. $29-$137. Boston Opera House. 617-695-6955, www.bostonballet.org
LUCKY PLUSH PRODUCTIONS The Chicago-based troupe, known for putting its witty and provocative blend of dance and theater to the service of social commentary, offers the Boston premiere of "The Better Half," an original take on the Ingrid Bergman suspense thriller "Gaslight." Boston debut presented by World Music/CRASHarts.March 8-9. $40. Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. 617-876-4275, www.worldmusic.org
RAINBOW TRIBE, INC. The esteemed 20-year-old educational organization's upcoming extravaganza "Chapter 21" features performances by Tribe, The Dance Company, Bside, and Embrace. Guest artists include US Crew, Bosoma, Boston Tap Company, and Origination. March 9. 8 p.m. $25, $20 students, seniors, children. Boston University Dance Theater. 617-769-9400. www.rainbowtribe.org
ISRAEL FOLKDANCE FESTIVAL OF BOSTON Bone up on your horas and debkas. Hundreds of dancers of all ages from the Boston area as well as visiting performers amass for this yearly celebration of original choreography and traditional dances from the Jewish heritage. March 10,
3 p.m. $15 ($5 college student rush tickets). MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, Cambridge. www.bostonfestival.org
THE GAME'S AFOOT: VIDEO GAME ART Games that explore art, art that explores games, and hybrids that examine work, politics, and the nature of existence. The show piggybacks on the PAX East gaming convention coming to Boston March 22-24. Through April 14. Boston Cyberarts Gallery, 141 Green St., Jamaica Plain. www.bostoncyberarts.org
ABOVE THE DIN: UNSTRUCTURED CONVERSATIONS Can a basket comment on the state of the world? Nationally known fiber artists tackle the environment, politics, and more in their baskets, cut paper, and knit sculptures. Artists include Nathalie Miebach, Adrienne Sloane, and Beatrice Coron. Through April 3. ArtWorks!, 384 Acushnet Ave., New Bedford. www.artworksforyou.org
THE THINGS THAT SEEM AND THOSE THAT ARE: RESHAPING PHOTOGRAPHY THROUGH ALTERNATIVE PROCESSES
In this show, more than a dozen artists utilize historic, analog, and time-consuming photographic methods. Tintypes, cyanotypes, and pictures made with pinhole cameras, among others, are included. Through April 1. Panopticon Gallery, 502c Commonwealth Ave. 617-267-8929, www.panopticongallery.com
FREEPORT [NO. 006]: NICK CAVE Three faceless, funky, sculptural costumes by the fabric artist, seen in conjunction with a film projection. Cave’s exuberant “Soundsuits” recall anything from African ceremonial garb to neon-hued yeti to conglomerations of Beanie Babies. Through May 27. Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex St., Salem.
ANDERS ZORN: A EUROPEAN ARTIST SEDUCES AMERICA The great Swedish painter, and favorite of Mrs Gardner, is revealed here in an exhibition of virtuosic and very tasty portraits, street scenes, and images of Swedish rural life (including, of course, nude bathing). Through May 13. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. 617 566 1401, www.gardnermuseum.org
FRAME BY FRAME: PHOTOGRAPHIC SERIES AND PORTFOLIOS FROM THE COLLECTION Frame is the name of the game, since the photographers in this superb show are named Robert Frank, Aaron Siskind, Bruce Davidson, William Eggleston,William Christenberry, and Bill Owens. Through April 14. Addison Gallery of American Art. 978-749-4015, www.addisongallery.org
IN HARMONY: THE NORMA JEAN CALDERWOOD COLLECTION OF ISLAMIC ART Ceramics, illustrated folio pages, and drawings on paper, most them exquisite, make up this exhibition of Persianate work from the 9th to 19th centuries. Through June 1.
Arthur M. Sackler Museum. 617-495-9400, www.harvardartmuseums.org/visit
JON IMBER: WINDSWEPT Imber, known for his muscular, expressionistic landscapes and still lifes, was diagnosed with ALS last fall. His right hand weakened, so he started painting with his left. Paintings from before and after his diagnosis are on view. Pictured: a detail of Imber's "Low Tide" (2012). Through April 3.
Alpha Gallery, 37 Newbury St. 617-536-4465, www.alphagallery.com