Stephen Sondheim has died aged 91.
The famed composer and lyricist, who was behind some of the biggest musical theatre productions, passed away on Friday (Nov 26) at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut, his lawyer and friend F. Richard Pappas has confirmed.
The news was first reported by the New York Times, who said Pappas described Sondheim’s death as “sudden”, as he had celebrated Thanksgiving with his friends just one day earlier.
Sondheim’s career spanned more than 60 years, and he was known for co-creating Broadway theatre classics including West Side Story, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, and Into the Woods, all of which went on to become hit movies.
The composer had his first big hit with 1957's West Side Story when he was just 27 years old, and he went on to be praised for having “reinvented the American musical". West Side Story was later adapted into the Oscar-winning film directed by Robert Wise in 1961; a new feature version, by Steven Spielberg, opens in the US next month.
On the news of his death, producer Cameron Mackintosh issued a statement to The Guardian which read: “The theatre has lost one of its greatest geniuses and the world has lost one of its greatest and most original writers. Sadly, there is now a giant in the sky. But the brilliance of Stephen Sondheim will still be here as his legendary songs and shows will be performed forevermore. Goodbye old friend and thank you from all of us.”
And several celebrities have already paid tribute to the legendary composer, including Barbra Streisand.
She wrote on Instagram: “Thank the Lord that Sondheim lived to be 91 years old so he had the time to write such wonderful music and GREAT lyrics! May he Rest In Peace (sic)”
While Pitch Perfect's Anna Kendrick added: “I was just talking to someone a few nights ago about how much fun (and f****** difficult) it is to sing Stephen Sondheim. Performing his work has been among the greatest privileges of my career. A devastating loss. (sic)”
I was just talking to someone a few nights ago about how much fun (and fucking difficult) it is to sing Stephen Sondheim. Performing his work has been among the greatest privileges of my career. A devastating loss.— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) November 26, 2021
And Frozen's Josh Gad also tweeted: “Perhaps not since April 23rd of 1616 has theater lost such a revolutionary voice. Thank you Mr. Sondheim for your Demon Barber, some Night Music, a Sunday in the Park, Company, fun at a Forum, a trip Into the Woods and telling us a West Side Story. RIP. (sic)”
Lin-Manuel Miranda — whose new film, tick, tick... BOOM! features a 'cameo' by Sondheim played Bradley Whitford — tweeted, “Future historians: Stephen Sondheim was real. Yes, he wrote Tony & Maria AND Sweeney Todd AND Bobby AND George & Dot AND Fosca AND countless more. Some may theorize Shakespeare’s works were by committee but Steve was real & he was here & he laughed SO loud at shows & we loved him.”
Future historians: Stephen Sondheim was real. Yes, he wrote Tony & Maria AND Sweeney Todd AND Bobby AND George & Dot AND Fosca AND countless more. Some may theorize Shakespeare's works were by committee but Steve was real & he was here & he laughed SO loud at shows & we loved him— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) November 27, 2021
— BANG SHOWBIZ