After five years, MPR News is retiring State of the Arts.

Our archives will continue to be accessible, but there will be no new posts from here on out.

This does not mean that MPR’s commitment to arts coverage will be in any way diminished. But we are streamlining our web presence, and making arts coverage easier for you to find. All arts news can now be found here.

As for me, I will continue to report on the arts for MPR News, and in addition I will be joining MPR’s Molly Bloom in taking on the weekly production of Art Hounds, which relaunches on air and online starting Nov 6.

Art Hounds creator Chris Roberts is now working full time on a series of new and exciting podcasts, including “Counter Stories,” “The Interpreters,” “MN Next,” “Pedal Hub” and “Pop Till We Drop.”

And of course you can always subscribe to our weekly film podcast Cube Critics.

After five months of construction, Park Square Theatre’s new thrust stage is nearing completion.

Park Square Theatre

Area students will get to see the new space first with school matinees beginning on Wednesday. The stage opens to the general public on Friday with previews of “The House on Mango Street.”

Located in the lower level of St. Paul’s historic Hamm Building, the Andy Boss Thrust Stage will seat 203.

This is in addition to Park Square’s proscenium main stage, which seats 350.

The second stage cost $3.5 million to build, of which $250,000 remains to be raised. Park Square Theatre has a 20-year lease on the space.

The new venue is named in honor of the late local business and community leader W. Andrew Boss.

“Romeo and Juliet” is one of Shakespeare’s greatest known tragedies. This is both a blessing and a curse for theater companies.

The show has great name recognition, but hasn’t it already been, ahem, “done to death?”

According to several critics, Ten Thousand Things Theater Company’s latest production appears to prove that there is still gold to be mined from this classic play. Only one critic found the show “a disappointment.”

Namir Smallwood and Anna Sundberg in "Romeo and Juliet"

From Ed Huyck at City Pages:

For director Peter Rothstein and the eight-actor cast with Ten Thousand Things, it’s all about ramping up the tension and emotions to the point that they are palpable. The early blushes of love between our “star-crossed” lovers? It’s like a dream as the pair share their first dance. You can feel the longing the two have for each other in your bones, as they spend so much of the play apart.

From Lisa Brock at the Star Tribune:

Smallwood, in particular, creates a fully inhabited Romeo, his mobile face transparently reflecting emotions and quicksilver nuances of mood as he falls precipitously in love. He’s clearly at ease with the language and overlays it with a modern tenor that makes it fully accessible, capturing both its lyricism and its wit.

Anna Sundberg and Namir Smallwood in "Romeo and Juliet"

From Janet Preus at

…Under Peter Rothstein’s sensitive direction, I saw things I’d never seen before: the playful teenager quality of the balcony scene, the artifice of Lady Capulet, Friar Lawrence’s quick mind and deep understanding of the larger picture, more possibilities for comic relief in the servant roles.

The little mistakes in the story that become turning point moments were never “given away.” We know that Romeo got in the way in Mercutio’s fight with Tybalt, that Friar John didn’t deliver the letter, and Paris confronts Romeo in Juliet’s tomb. But do we always catch Shakespeare’s exquisite set up and timing of each of these incidences? Rothstein doesn’t miss a thing.

From Dominic P. Papatola at the Pioneer Press:

Peter Rothstein, whose guest-directing duties on “Romeo and Juliet” overlapped with staging “Master Class” for Theatre Latte Da (where he is artistic director), may have been suffering from a case of split focus with this staging. There’s a not-fully-thought-out vibe that permeates the production: questions that remain unexplored, moments that never really materialize, a setting whose fuzziness seems more lazy than intentional, relationships that don’t quite gel. This, then, leaves the actors to their own devices, and while the company is comprised of eight performers who have done some terrific work on local stages, none of them is near to their best efforts here.

Ten Thousand Things’ production of “Romeo and Juliet” runs through Nov. 2. Have you seen it? What’s your review?

Each year the SAGE Awards recognize exceptional work in the Minnesota dance scene. The 2014 winners are: Outstanding Dance Performance One with Others – Karen Sherman Rooted: Hip Hop Choreographers’ Evening – Maia Maiden Outstanding Dance Performer Jesse Neumann-Peterson – Under the Current (Sharon Picasso), The Student (Vanessa Voskuil), Azalea Nights (Christine Maginnis/Christopher Watson) Duncan Read more