“The World’s End”

Laurie Sparham • Focus Features,

“Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove” by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Ben Greenman; Grand Central Publishing (288 pages, $26).

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The Dr. Thora Pandora Science Show (with Stephanie Kirchmann) at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.

Provided by Minnesota Renaissance Festival,

Jeffery C. Nelson as Cosmo Brown, Holli Richgels as Kathy Seldon and C. Ryan Shipley as Don Lockwood in “Singin’ in the Rain.”


“Early Decision” by Lacy Crawford

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Our five faves of the moment: 'The World's End,' Questlove's 'Mo Meta Blues' and more

  • August 24, 2013 - 2:00 PM

1 “The World’s End” is about five pals on a reunion booze-up that goes seriously haywire. It’s outrageous satire, bruisingly funny slapstick and — while never too snooty to stoop for lowdown laughs — deliciously smart besides. This is the third collaboration between uproarious English comedians Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”). “The World’s End” is such a blissful, crackbrained extravaganza that you hope the end never arrives.

2 At 42, Questlove isn’t ready to write a memoir, but his “Mo Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove” is a fascinatingly thoughtful, sometimes nerdy and thoroughly entertaining look at life and music by the drummer of the Roots and “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.” He is quite simply a music-obsessive — has been since he was 2. His analysis of hip-hop and its key moments and players is as original as it is insightful. But he knows his rock and R&B, too. He’s a Prince fanatic and expert who tells about going to Prince’s private 2 a.m. roller-skating party with Eddie Murphy. Priceless.

3 The Minnesota Renaissance Festival’s newest attraction is like a big juicy turkey leg for kids’ brains. The Dr. Thora Pandora Science Show lets the young ’uns participate in tantalizing experiments such as blowing up potatoes and making gas bombs. Plus, there will be slime. We bet Dr. Thora (real name Stephanie Kirchmann) is friends with Dora the Explorer. At noon and 2 p.m. weekends in Alice the Cook’s Sand Lot at the Ren Fest in Shakopee, through Sept. 29.

4 Director/choreographer Michael Matthew Ferrell’s stage adaptation of “Singin’ in the Rain” at the Bloomington Civic apes the movie for the most part. But when he displays his own creativity, like turning “Make ’em Laugh,” a solo song for Donald O’Connor, into a slapstick production number, he makes his own kind of magic. As matinee idol Don Lockwood, C. Ryan Shipley (pictured) almost erases the memory of Gene Kelly. Jeffery C. Nelson has brilliant comic timing as second banana Cosmo, as well as a strong set of pipes.

5 “Early Decision” by Lacy Crawford is a novel about a woman who coaches wealthy high schoolers on writing their college-application essays. It sounds awful, but it’s actually a pretty good read — partly because the poor-little-rich-kids whom she coaches are so real, so troubled, so vulnerable. They’re sensitive and want to do things like study theater or go to Montana to delve into wilderness education. But their powerful parents have other ideas, all of which involve overachieving in the Ivy League. This is a peek into an ultra-privileged way of life, and it’s interesting like a train wreck is interesting.

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