Educating Rita: With this tale of upper-crust English professor Frank mentoring lower-class literary wannabe Rita, Dramaworks' director Nanique Gheridian sends us into a supposedly well-recognized Pygmalion paradigm. But for those of us who shied away from seeing the 1983 Michael Caine film version of the play, it is not as My Fair Lady-like as you might think. It's really more of a coming-of-age love story about literature than a tale of social-class-hopping. As Rita, Claire Tyler abounds with an energy that fills her character with life. In the role of the jaded professor, Dan Leonard plays off of Tyler with skill and confidence. This is Tyler's show, though, and she takes control. But a true lesson from Educating Rita is this: If you're brave, you'll find the good books regardless of the obstacles, with or without wood paneling and stuffy mentors. Dave Amber Through April 9. Palm Beach Dramaworks, 322 Banyan Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-514-4042, www.palmbeachdramaworks.org.
The Full Monty: The first thing people want to know about this show is not if it's any good, but if the male performers actually bare their tackle. The answer is yes. This Broadway musical is based on the 1997 UK film of the same name. And for anyone unfamiliar with British slang, the full monty literally means the whole amount. In the context of this play, the phrase describes the antics of six average-looking men who cast off their unmentionables. Although the story begins and ends with a strip tease, The Full Monty deals with more than bare-chested hip-thrusting. The plot may be contrived losers turn to amateur stripping and win the heart of a town and predictable, but Terence McNally's book equates to a spunky and light-hearted piece of theater. Joanne Green Through April 9. Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-444-9293, www.actorsplayhouse.org.
Painted Alice: William Donnelly's play Painted Alice may not be especially profound, but it is very funny. Alice is a promising young artist on the verge of making it big. But she cannot paint. She is suffering from the painterly equivalent of writer's block, and the malaise is spreading throughout her life, creating a kaleidoscope of frustrating situations. Though the play is loosely based on Lewis Carroll's The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, its parallels are superficial and random. Carroll's logic is hardly that of a dream but rather of a rigorous philosophy class; Donnelly's is easier, looser, and ultimately less satisfying. Nonetheless it's a lot of fun. Octavio Roca Through April 8. Mad Cat Theatre production presented by the Miami Light Project at the Light Box, 3000 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-576-6377, www.miamilightproject.com.
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