1 Director/choreographer Lewis Whitlock's production of the musical "The Color Purple" is one of aching pain and luminous beauty. His staging soars at Park Square Theatre because of its design, music and cast, which includes Regina Marie Williams, T. Mychael Rambo and Aimee Bryant as Celie, the 14-year-old mother of two who is repeatedly raped by her stepfather. Whitlock's treatment of the well-known book/movie underscores the fact that this is a story, set in rural Georgia in the first half of the 1900s, about family and redemption, about people swimming in a sea of trauma. parksquaretheatre.org
3 Nobody does a breakup album like Björk. The electro-cute Icelandic star has never sounded icier than on "Vulnicura," which abruptly arrived via iTunes a month early after it leaked online. With elaborate orchestral strings and "Yeezus" electronic producer Arca accompanying her unmistakable voice, the aural onslaught alone is mesmerizing. Even more impressive, the personal drama cuts like shattered glass. She somehow oozes the pained lyrics such as, "Did I love you too much?" without ever sounding anything less than invincible.
2 Jennifer Aniston, below, turns in the riskiest, most emotionally naked performance of her career in "Cake." The anti-vanity leap she takes is big, brave and deserving of sustained admiration. She plays a woman in a chronic-pain support group discussing the recent suicide of one of their own. "Cake" isn't a movie about events unfolding in mixed-up order to create a whole. It's about the feelings those events induce — grief, comfort, ghosts, memories, the facing of unbearable truths.
5 Long before there was Erma Bombeck or Mommy Bloggers, there was Shirley Jackson. The author of the chilling short story "The Lottery" was also the author of hilarious memoirs about being a wife and mother; "Life Among the Savages" and "Raising Demons" are funny and wry tales about a time when her life "resolved itself into a round of hemlines and chocolate pudding." To mark the anniversary of the 50th year of Jackson's death in May – and conveniently close to Mother's Day — Penguin books is reissuing both memoirs, which were first published in the 1950s. Scary smart, Penguin. Scary funny, Jackson.
4 Gamut is a funky little gallery in downtown Minneapolis that doubles as a studio for the Slam Academy, an electronic arts "school" specializing in sound design and sonic media. The current show, "Common Oasis," is a sweet display of little gouache paintings by Krista Braam and a shrine-like installation of yarn, candles, mirrors and Mason jars by Rachel Andrzejewski. Filled with flowers, dancing sprites and a winsome lamb, Braam's paintings radiate beguiling innocence. Andrzejewski offers spiritual comfort in the form of prayer flags, little printed symbols and reassuring advice scrawled above impromptu shrines. gamutgallerympls.com