URBANITY DANCE Five choreographers fill in the Mad Libs-style blank with new dances in “You Are____.” Styles ranging from ballet to hip-hop are showcased in works including New York-based Kat Pantos’s “You Are STEALTHY” and Jaclyn Walsh’s “You Are FORSAKEN.” May 3-4, 7:30 p.m. $24-$50. Boston University Dance Theater. 617-572-3727, www.urbanitydance.org
AN ILIAD Denis O’Hare gives a mesmerizing solo performance in this vernacular adaptation of Homer’s epic poem. Directed by Lisa Peterson, it connects the story of the Trojan War to what history tells us about humanity’s bottomless capacity for violence, leaving us shaken not just by a sense of war’s horror and absurdity, but also by its inevitability. Through May 4. ArtsEmerson and Homer’s Coat. At Paramount Center Mainstage.
POOL (NO WATER) Mark Ravenhill’s darkly disturbing 2006 play has no water and also no characters, no location, and no staging instructions — it’s just the recollection of what happened when a group of artists tried to make art, and money, out of the accident that befell their most successful member. But this intimate and imaginative production, directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques, is filled with life and love (as well as nudity and a lot of expletives). Through May 4. Apollinaire Theatre Company. At Chelsea Theatre Works, Chelsea. 617-887-2336, www.apollinairetheatrecompany.com
SHE KILLS MONSTERS The “she” in Qui Nguyen’s 2011 fantasy is 15-year-old Tilly Evans, who kills Dungeons & Dragons monsters. Actually, Tilly’s dead, killed in a car crash with her parents, but her older sister, Agnes, finds Tilly’s D&D notebook and enters the game in order to reconnect with her sibling. Real-life sisters Jordan Clark and Paige Clark Perkinson play Tilly and Agnes in this high-spirited, swordplay-filled production, and their chemistry is palpable. Through May 11. Company One. At Plaza Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.companyone.org
SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE! With a spirited ensemble performing songs written for the animated shorts that ran on Saturday morning TV in the 1970s and ’80s, this show is the perfect treat for the 5- to 10-year-old set and their Gen X parents. Directed by Burgess Clark. Through May 5. Boston Children’s Theatre. At Roberts Studio Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts. 617-933-8600, www.bostonchildrenstheatre.org
THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE At a moment when we’ve been all too focused on events unfolding in the real world, this production of the 2002 musical (based on the 1967 movie) is a wonderfully entertaining immersion into escapism. Director-choreographer Ilyse Robbins knows the focus needs to be on the singing and dancing, and, wow, does her company deliver. Through May 12. Stoneham Theatre. 781-279-2200, www.stonehamtheatre.org
PIPPI LONGSTOCKING The unconventional title character defies expectations, and so does director Wendy Lement’s frothy stage version of the classic children’s book. Lement’s approach focuses on joy and whimsy, with a whole lot of chances to dance, dance, dance. Through May 12. Wheelock Family Theatre. 617-879-2300, www.wheelockfamilytheatre.org
BOSOMA DANCE COMPANY Irada Djelassi’s “Abyss” and Katherine Hooper’s new “Nocturnal Creatures” highlight the company’s mixed program, “Spring Collection 2013.” The evening also includes BoSoma’s signature “Push” and last year’s “Moments,” which examines the complexities of human connections. May 4, 6 and 8 p.m. $15, $12 seniors and students. Mass Motion Dance Studio Theatre, 100 Holton St., Brighton.
DANCEVISIONS INC. For the new dance quartet “Flight,” choreographer Margot Parsons collaborated with sound-visual designer Andreas Randow and lighting designer Lynda Rieman to explore not just the physical implications of flying but the emotional resonance of the experience. May 5, 3 and 5 p.m. $20, $15 seniors and students. Boston University Dance Theater. 617-484-3783, www.dancevisions.net
DANIEL MCCUSKER The provocative veteran choreographer has assembled a first-rate group of dancers for this evening of recent pieces, which includes a work in progress created with Western Massachusetts choreographer Sara Smith and Bowdoin College’s Paul Sarvis. May 4-5. Tufts University’s Jackson Gym Dance Lab, Medford. $20, $15 seniors and students. 617-510-9644, www.danielmccuskerdanceprojects.org
DAVID HILLIARD: THE TALE IS TRUE Hilliard’s multipanel photographs use an old English poem, “The Seafarer,” to frame the story of a father and son in a house beside the sea. The weight of the past plays against hope for a better future. Through May 25. Carroll and Sons, 450 Harrison Ave. 617-482-2477, www.carrollandsons.net
STACY SCIBELLI: VOWELS You’ll recognize the forms in Scibelli’s sculptures — they come from her background in fashion. You may even be tempted to use them. “Vowels” looks behind the glitz at fashion’s grammar and syntax: patterns and tailoring. Through May 25. Proof Gallery, 516 East Second St., South Boston. 617-702-2761, www.proof-gallery.com
BRUCE HIGH QUALITY FOUNDATION: FREEDOM This anonymous collective of artists is known for its playful critiques of the art world, poking holes in vaunted institutions and questioning art education. Through June 3. Cohen Gallery, Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, Brown University, 154 Angell St., Providence. 401-863-1934,
ED RUSCHA: STANDARD More than 70 works, including painting and film, from across the career of the acclaimed West Coast artist. Works drawn from the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where the show originated, are complemented by work from the Rose’s collection. Through June 9. Rose Art Museum, Waltham. 781-736-3434, www.brandeis.edu/rose
MICHELANGELO — SACRED AND PROFANE: MASTER DRAWINGS FROM THE CASA BUONARROTI Twenty-six Michelangelo drawings from his own collection, on loan from the museum in Florence that was once his home. Through June 30. Museum of Fine Arts. 617-267-9300, www.mfa.org
BARRY MCGEE A mid-career survey of the popular San Francisco-based artist who has made a dynamic shift from street art into galleries and museums. Through Sept. 2. Institute of Contemporary Art. 617-478-3100, www.icaboston.org
FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE: VISUAL CULTURE AND THE STRUGGLE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS Posters, photographs, books, magazines, newspapers — 250 objects in all — demonstrating the ways in which visual culture helped shape the fight for civil rights in America from the 1940s to the 1970s. Through July 31. Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover.
On the rise
LIZ SHEPHERD: UP AND OUT
Ladders as metaphors for escape, ascendance, and leaving power this sculptural installation. Shifts in scale and materials trigger different readings of the central motif: Moving on can be liberating, and it can be fraught. Pictured: Shepherd’s 2011 “Jacob’s Ladder.” Through May 31.
Trustman Art Gallery, Simmons College, 300 The Fenway. 617-521-2268, www.simmons.edu/trustman/