1 John Miller-Stephany brings a frolicking sensibility to the Guthrie Theater's production of "The Music Man." Choreographer Joe Chvala has everyone moving with grace and rhythm. Music director Andrew Cooke is right on point with his singers. With corny winks and properly garish costuming of the period (by Mathew J. LeFebvre), the insular rubes of River City, Iowa, strut like cartoons while Prof. Harold Hill drops in with a pitch for their money and their hearts. Alas, it is in the acting performances where the staging suffers. So sleep through the love scenes and wake up for the pageant — it's quite a show. (www.guthrietheater.com)
2 Eschewing the idea that angry young men mellow with age, Omaha's indie-rock mainstay Conor Oberst (far left) has fully transformed from the sweet-voiced folkie alter-ego of his teens, Bright Eyes, to a raging, screaming, vein-popping punk-rocker at age 35 on Desaparecidos' exhilarating new album, "Payola." The band's sophomore record — coming 13 years after its debut — offers a nonstop blast of topical lyrics and Fugazi-meets-Foo-Fighters roar-rock that should sound just as potent 13 years from now.
3 Romantic, poetic, tragic, a feast for the eyes: "Testament of Youth" might be the most beautiful movie you'll see this year. Based on Vera Brittain's 1933 pacifist treatise, the film explores the heavy toll of war (the Great War, in this case) on a young and carefree generation. The ubiquitous Alicia Vikander ("Ex Machina" and the upcoming "Man From U.N.C.L.E.") is a luminous Vera, anchoring a marvelous cast that includes Emily Watson, Miranda Richardson and Kit Harington ("Game of Thrones"). (Edina Theatre)
5 If you got hooked on the podcast "Serial," here's another: "Mystery Show." The lifting's not as heavy but the premise is delightful — think "Harriet the Spy" for adults. Each week, doggedly curious host Starlee Kine delves into a different random mystery, one that can't easily be solved on the Internet. They range from tracking the maker of an interesting antique belt buckle found in a gutter to why the car in front of her at a stoplight has a license plate reading "ILUV911" to how tall Jake Gyllenhaal is. Find it at www.gimletmedia.com.
4 Cole Cohen was always bright, but she was also always a little off. She couldn't read a map, never remembered which was left and which was right, and, for a while, wrote her words backward. And then, in her 20s, someone thought to do a brain scan. And they found a hole. In her brain. The size of a lemon. "Head Case" is Cohen's nonfictional account of living with this abnormality, before and after that MRI. The book is sad and funny, chipper and melancholy, thought-provoking and gasp-inducing.