ELMER THE ELDER | Piti Theatre Company performs its "dance-clown-theater environmental fable for family audiences." | Boston Playwrights' Theatre, 949 Comm Ave, Boston | 866.811.4111 | Through May 17 | Curtain 7 pm Fri | 2 pm Sat [May 16 @ 6 pm] | 2 pm Sun | $12; $10 students, seniors; $8 children 14 and under; $16-$24 May 16 Spring Seeds Gala

IOLANTHE, OR THE PEER AND THE PERI | MIT's Gilbert & Sullivan Players take on G&S's 1882 "fairy opera." | Sala de Puerto Rico, Stratton Student Center [second floor], 84 Mass Ave, Cambridge | 617.253.0190 | Through May 9 | Curtain 8 pm Thurs-Fri | 2 + 8 pm Sat | 2 pm Sun | $12; $10 MIT community; $8 students, seniors, children; $6 MIT/Wellesley students

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST | Beth F. Miles, head of the Brown/Trinity Rep Consortium's MFA directing program, is at the helm of Oscar Wilde's 1895 "trivial comedy for serious people." Trinity Rep regular Mauro Hantman stars as the identity-laundering Jack; Janice Duclos is the battle ax who won't let her daughter marry anyone descended from a handbag. | Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington St, Providence, Rhode Island | 401.351.4242 | Through May 10 | Curtain 7:30 pm Tues-Fri | 2 + 7:30 pm Sat | 2 + 7:30 pm Sun | $20-$60; $10 12th-row bench

JERRY SPRINGER: THE OPERA | Artistic director Paul Daigneault is at the helm of this SpeakEasy Stage Company area premiere of the 2004 Olivier Award–winning London sensation, a "fascinating mix of high art and low culture" featuring "some unusual characters, each desperate for their 'Jerry Springer' moment." | Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St, Boston | 617.933.8600 | Through May 30 | Curtain 7:30 pm Tues [May 26] | 7:30 pm Wed-Thurs | 8 pm Fri | 4 + 8 pm Sat | 3 pm Sun | $51-$54; $46-$49 students, seniors; $30 gallery seats; $14 student rush | Carolyn Clay's review on page TK

THE LIFE OF GALILEO | David Wheeler directs British playwright David Hare's translation of Bertolt Brecht's 1938 play in a production by Catalyst Collaborative @ MIT, in conjunction with Underground Railway Theater. There's an element of bare-bones pageantry in Brecht's play — which, the dramatist being a Marxist, has as much to say about knowledge and the marketplace as it does about the father of modern science's impassioned head butt to the opiate of the people. Capitalizing on URT's strengths, Wheeler translates this into masked, commedia-style clowning that includes a cleverly rhymed introduction and an Italian carnival (the purpose of which is to show a rowdy rank-and-file loosening its ties to Church doctrine) that boasts a sun-like Galileo's-head puppet supplied with drapery arms and a giant pencil with which to scribble across the Scriptures. Hare's sharply eloquent translation pinpoints but is not weighed down by Brecht's didacticism. And Richard McElvain, though his light is too long hidden under the bushel of a bad blond wig, renders an energetic, multi-faceted, even mischievous and epicurean Galileo. | Central Square Theater, 450 Mass Ave, Cambridge | 866.811.4111 | Through May 17 | Curtain 7:30 pm Wed-Thurs | 8 pm Fri-Sat | 3 pm Sun | $32; $22 seniors; $18 students with ID; $12 student rush day of show

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