'The best there ever was': Jake Gyllenhaal, Barbra Streisand, more react to Stephen Sondheim's death

·8 min read

Along with the rest of the world, artists and celebrities are mourning the loss of musical theater titan Stephen Sondheim.

The composer and lyricist died Friday at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut at age 91. Rick Miramontez, a publicist for the current Broadway production of Sondheim’s musical “Company," confirmed the news to USA TODAY.

One of the most imitated and inimitable musical theater artists of his generation, Sondheim was responsible for groundbreaking musicals such as "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," "Company," "Follies" and "Sunday in the Park with George." His work helped to redefine the American art form while staying true to the fundamentals of compelling stories and unforgettable songs.

Celebrities including Oscar-nominated actor Anna Kendrick paid tribute to Sondheim on social media, calling his death "a devastating loss."

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"I was just talking to someone a few nights ago about how much fun (and (expletive) difficult) it is to sing Stephen Sondheim," Kendrick tweeted. "Performing his work has been among the greatest privileges of my career."

Icon of stage, screen and song Barbra Streisand expressed gratitude for the talent Sondheim shared with the world during his lifetime.

"Thank the Lord that Sondheim lived to be 91 years old so he had the time to write such wonderful music and GREAT lyrics!" Streisand tweeted. "May he Rest In Peace."

Jake Gyllenhaal, who starred in the Sondheim musical "Sunday in the Park with George," remembered him as the "maestro of American musical theater."

"This picture of Mr. Stephen Sondheim, was taken during curtain call on the opening night of 'Sunday in the Park with George,'" Gyllenhaal wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of Sondheim. "I am grateful to have shared time with the master and maestro of American musical theater, and to have played his George. We have lost a giant. We will miss you. Rest In Peace."

The gravity of Sondheim's absence was also not lost on "Frozen" and "Beauty and the Beast" star Josh Gad, who listed off some of the composer's iconic works in a tweet.

"Perhaps not since April 23rd of 1616 has theater lost such a revolutionary voice," Gad wrote.

Primetime Emmy winner and "Orange Is the New Black" alum Uzo Aduba called Sondheim "the best there ever was."

"I don’t know when we will ever have another of his caliber, of his breadth and scope," Aduba tweeted. "Just the greatest, a legend, a true titan. Rest In Peace."

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sondheim was a "legend" who "created fantastic worlds and characters" through his work.

"Rest In Peace, Stephen Sondheim, and thank you for your vast contributions to musical theater. We shall be singing your songs forever. Oh, my heart hurts," tweeted Lea Salonga.

Bernadette Peters, who appeared in multiple productions of Sondheim's work over the years, grieved the loss of her friend "Steve."

"He gave me so much to sing about," Peters tweeted. "I loved him dearly and will miss him so much. Thank you for all the gifts you gave the world Steve."

Primetime Emmy winner and "How I Met Your Mother" alum Neil Patrick Harris said he "cherished every moment" he got to work with Sondheim.

"His genius is unparalleled, his contributions to the arts, undeniable," Harris wrote on his Instagram. "Rest In peace, Steve. And thank you."

Tony nominee David Alan Grier also took to Twitter to emphasize the inimitable quality of Sondheim's artistry.

"A musical theatre giant has passed away," Grier wrote. "There will never be another. Rest In Peace King."

"Dear Evan Hansen" star Ben Platt reflected on the impact of Sondheim's work on his own life in a heartfelt post.

"Your work has been and continues to be a gift every day," Platt wrote on his Instagram story. "It has at different times helped me to understand life, to celebrate it, to cope with it, the list goes on. you evolved and elevated your beloved art form in a way that is forever incomparable."

He continued: "I feel so grateful to have been on the planet at the same time as you and even more grateful that we have your music and your lessons as eternal gifts."

Actor Ben Platt takes to his Instagram story to mourn the loss of musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim, who died Friday at age 91. "I feel so grateful to have been on the planet at the same time as you and even more grateful that we have your music and your lessons as eternal gifts," Platt wrote.
Actor Ben Platt takes to his Instagram story to mourn the loss of musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim, who died Friday at age 91. "I feel so grateful to have been on the planet at the same time as you and even more grateful that we have your music and your lessons as eternal gifts," Platt wrote.

Actor and singer Idina Menzel said Sondheim's legacy will live on through the people he inspired.

"We will spend our lives trying to make you proud," Menzel tweeted.

"X-Men" and "Les Misérables" star Hugh Jackman also took to social media to express his appreciation for Sondheim.

"Every so often someone comes along that fundamentally shifts an entire art form," Jackman wrote. "Stephen Sondheim was one of those."

Actor George Takei said the world of musical theater "has lost a towering giant" with Sondheim's death.

"Stephen Sondheim's legacy of song and lyric in unparalleled," Takei tweeted. "From West Side Story to Sweenie Todd, from Gypsy to Sunday in the Park with George, there will never be a master like him."

"Modern Family" star Jesse Tyler Ferguson recalled a brief encounter with Sondheim, who he says inspired him to become a musical theater actor.

"I met him once for 30 seconds backstage after a production of Merrily We Roll Along. I have never been more tongue tied or star struck. His writing is the singular reason I wanted to be a musical theater actor. No one will ever come close to his genius. RIP Stephen Sondheim," Ferguson tweeted.

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Broadway pays tribute to Sondheim in New York

Hundreds of members of the Broadway community gathered to remember and honor Sondheim on Sunday in Times Square.

Casts of Broadway shows gathered around the iconic red steps in Broadway's Duffy Square and sang "Sunday" from "Sunday in Park With George."

Participants included Lin-Manuel Miranda, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Sara Bareilles, Raúl Esparza, Stephen Schwartz, Laura Benanti, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Josh Groban, Erich Bergen, Lonny Price, Jim Walton, Tom Kitt, Reeve Carney, Eva Noblezada, Marc Shaiman, Lauren Patten, Kathryn Gallagher, Abby Mueller, Judy Kuhn, Brandon Uranowitz, Adam Chanler-Berat, Tavi Gevinson, Erin Davie, Bryan Clark Tyrell, and more.

Contributing: Elysa Gardner; Ilana Keller, Asbury Park Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Stephen Sondheim dies: Jake Gyllenhaal, Barbra Streisand pay tribute

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