The Life: The tiny Atlantis Playhouse takes a crazy gamble on The Life, a dark and gritty musical about pimps and prostitutes on New Yorks mean streets in the Eighties. The risk pays off. This rarely produced Tony Award winner (in its first-ever regional production) features a fine score from master tunesmith Cy Coleman that ranges from snazzy show tunes to funk, blues, and gospel, with wry, bitter lyrics from Ira Gassman. The result is white hot. The storyline meanders and production values are decidedly low-rent, but the talented, fiercely committed acting ensemble blows the roof off the playhouse anyway. Ronald Mangravite
Through July 11. Atlantis Playhouse, 5893 S. Congress Ave., Atlantis. 561-304-3212.
QED: David Kwiats performance in Peter Parnells QED is a sight to behold. Frantically and methodically recounting the life and times of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, Kwiat captures our attention and makes us laugh, question, and feel sorry for him with seemingly little effort. Dan Hudak
Through July 18. GableStage, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. 305-445-1119.
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Summer Shorts: City Theatres annual festival of short plays, a highlight of the South Florida stage scene, is back with mini comedies and dramas in all styles and sizes. Twenty playlets from one to twenty minutes long are presented in two separate programs, which can be taken in on separate nights or back to back with a catered meal in between. A versatile acting ensemble of nine assays all the plays, under the direction of eight veteran directors. The fest includes a few duds among the sizzlers but the fast pace means the next winner is only minutes away. Ronald Mangravite
July 8 through July 18. Amaturo Theater, Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. 954-462-0222.
Take Me Out: This Tony Award-winning drama takes on an ambitious range of subjects homophobia, tolerance, and the lure of baseball being chief among them. The play offers two stories. One is a dark drama about a major-league slugger who is revealed to be gay, pitting him against a bigoted teammate. The other plot is a comedy, as the slugger befriends a gay accountant who is thrilled to discover the joys of the sport. The Caldwells visually striking production features a fine acting ensemble, but both the story and the staging feel somewhat flat. The overall effect is somewhat less than might be hoped for. Ronald Mangravite
Through July 18. Caldwell Theatre Company, 7873 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton. 561-241-7432.