Arts and Entertainment Mel Smith (right) and Griff Rhys Jones as Jones says his comedy partnership with the late Smith was

Griff Rhys Jones says his comedy partnership with the late Mel Smith was "not exactly a marriage made in heaven".

Music: I'd get a divorce if I was Figaro

OPERA PLANNING is a long-term business: diaries get filled three years ahead and if you want Pavarotti this side of Armageddon, forget it. So when the handout for a new production merely weeks off reads "director: TBA", something is wrong. And "wrong" is probably an understatement for the Royal Opera's new Nozze di Figaro, which opened this week but was still TBA-ing its director (and for that matter its conductor) in November.

Tasty enough to whet your appetite

Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, is back in business and sharpening his razor for action. Edward Seckerson salutes a new touring production of Stephen Sondheim's `musical thriller' that really cuts to the heart of the matter.

Classical Music: The Demon Barber: a suitable case for Occam's razor

Opera or musical? That is the question. But does it really matter?

Review: Surprise, surprise by Sondheim

Saturday Night

The Critics: Music: A top Poppea and a fun Saturday Night

Imagine Romeo and Juliet with the lovers played by Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, tack on a happy ending, and you have a fair approximation of what happens in L'Incoronazione di Poppea - that dumbfounding product of the warped Renaissance mind, in which Monteverdi celebrates the triumph of eros over virtue. Like most scores of its age and fragmentary condition, it raises questions of text. But more than most, it raises a question of tone. At face value, Poppea is wilfully amoral, with comic touches. But to what extent should we read irony into its motives? Is it semi-serious libertarianism? Or a vaudeville to please the masses at a time when opera hadn't long been public property?

Coward wrote a show for her, she's played Sondheim and Albee and Tennessee Williams. Woody Allen gave her a cameo in his latest film ... tomorrow she sings in London

Elaine Stritch, the grand old dame of Broadway, asks David Benedict: who are you calling elderly?

Review: Whose woods these are I think I know...

Theatre: Into the Woods Haymarket Theatre, Leicester

Music Review: The quite appallingly dismal Widow

Wilderness experiences are meant to be chastening, and the Royal Opera's annees de pelerinage are proving nothing less. News broke this week that after only a month or so of busking from theatre to theatre, the company has hit financial crisis. And its brave attempt to make its homelessness a time for repertoire experiments has got off to a crazily uneven start, following a sublime Turn of the Screw with a Merry Widow so inadequate, you can only wonder how a major state-supported company has the gall to show it to the public.

Theatre review: And the latest of these is Love

There is only one place where the mythical figure of Charon might steer his boat along the same stretch of water as a boat with three chaps and a dog in it. Virgil meets Jerome K Jerome: it could only happen in a play by Tom Stoppard.

The Critics: Black and white and noir all over

Early on in Sam Mendes's new superb production of Othello, the Duke and senators meet to discuss reports that the Turkish fleet is on the move. A few desks and swivel chairs are brought in to make an operations room. Here, officials in pinstripe suits cradle brandy glasses, puff on cigars and pore over maps. The late-night atmosphere is one of disciplined urgency.

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Blue Heart

A funny thing happened on the way...

MUSICAL Side by Side by Sondheim Greenwich Theatre

A shot in the dark

MUSICAL Assassins New End Theatre, London
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