The American musical theater lost a giant Friday with the death of iconic composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim at 91. The Tony-, Oscar-, and Grammy-winning artist left behind an unmatched legacy of culturally groundbreaking work that includes the music and lyrics to Company and Into the Woods as well as the lyrics of West Side Story.
As news of Sondheim's death spread, fans and friends across entertainment mourned the devastating loss on social media.
"I am so so sad to lose my friend Steve Sondheim," Bernadette Peters tweeted. "He gave me so much to sing about." She added, "I loved him dearly and will miss him so much Thank you for all the gifts you gave the world Steve."
Douglas Elbinger/Getty Images Stephen Sondheim
"Farewell Steve, the musical theatre giant of our times, an inspiration not just to two but to three generations," Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote. "Your contribution to theatre will never be equalled."
Anthony Rapp added, "An extraordinary artist is gone. He gifted the world with so many incredible songs, & many performers' careers were catapulted by the signature, iconic material he wrote for them. May he Rest In Peace."
Lin-Manuel Miranda, who considered Sondheim a mentor and worked with him on a Spanish-language version of West Side Story, wrote on Twitter, "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
In a testament to Sondheim's artistic legacy, two new interpretations of his work are set to open in the coming weeks: a Broadway revival of Company and a new film version of West Side Story directed by Steven Spielberg. In a statement, the Oscar-winning filmmaker said, "Stephen Sondheim was a gigantic figure in American culture — one of our country's greatest songwriters, a lyricist and composer of real genius, and a creator of some of the most glorious musical dramas ever written. Steve and I became friends only recently, but we became good friends and I was surprised to discover that he knew more about movies than almost anyone I'd ever met."
He continued, "When we spoke, I couldn't wait to listen, awestruck by the originality of his perceptions of art, politics and people — all delivered brilliantly by his mischievous wit and dazzling words. I will miss him very much, but he left a body of work that has taught us, and will keep teaching us, how hard and how absolutely necessary it is to love."
In a statement posted to Twitter, Company revival director Marianne Elliott wrote, "We have lost the Shakespeare of musical theatre. He was the most generous collaborator with the greatest spirit. The joy of working with him was that he knew theatre could and should evolve with time. He was always open to the new. We dedicate this production of Company to his artistry and joy."
A message from our Director, Marianne Elliott. pic.twitter.com/noEyTASnOw
— COMPANY (@CompanyBway) November 26, 2021
See more tributes below.
I am so so sad to lose my friend Steve Sondheim He gave me so much to sing about ♥️♥️I loved him dearly and will miss him so much Thank you for all the gifts you gave the world Steve♥️
— Bernadette Peters (@OfficialBPeters) November 26, 2021
i was so blessed to sing for him.
i am so blessed to have known him.
how lucky we all remain.
thank you, steve. 🤍
— rachel zegler (she/her/hers) (@rachelzegler) November 26, 2021
The last of the great Musical Comedy composers has died. Steve, I will never be a able to properly thank you for the lessons learned. You are the Gold Standard.
— Patti LuPone (@PattiLuPone) November 27, 2021
Thank you Steve. Thank you. 🙏🏾💔
— Audra McDonald (@AudraEqualityMc) November 26, 2021
Farewell Steve, the musical theatre giant of our times, an inspiration not just to two but to three generations. Your contribution to theatre will never be equalled. - ALW
— Andrew Lloyd Webber (@OfficialALW) November 26, 2021
An extraordinary artist is gone. He gifted the world with so many incredible songs, & many performers’ careers were catapulted by the signature, iconic material he wrote for them. May he Rest In Peace. #Sondheim pic.twitter.com/6bB6tOLsRM
— Anthony Rapp SAG-AFTRA National & NY Board Member (@albinokid) November 26, 2021
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🥲🎵 🎶🎵 pic.twitter.com/vshNSdkvpQ
— Barbra Streisand (@BarbraStreisand) November 26, 2021
Goodbye dear sir. We will spend our lives trying to make you proud. #stephensondheim
— Idina Menzel (@idinamenzel) November 26, 2021
— Kristin Chenoweth (@KChenoweth) November 26, 2021
Just posted this last night as I walked into my friend’s house for Thanksgiving. Fuck. 💔❤️ pic.twitter.com/q08WntIwXS
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) November 26, 2021
I am at a loss. Feels like the end of an era. He did indeed set the standard for the American musical.
Rest well, sir. #StephenSondheim
— Ariana DeBose (@ArianaDeBose) November 26, 2021
Every so often someone comes along that fundamentally shifts an entire art form. Stephen Sondheim was one of those. As millions mourn his passing I also want to express my gratitude for all he has given to me and so many more. Sending my love to his nearest and dearest. pic.twitter.com/4KlnJJJipq
— Hugh Jackman (@RealHughJackman) November 26, 2021
— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) November 26, 2021
He only wrote one screenplay, but it’s an absolute gem of a whodunnit. Why not pay tribute to the great Stephen Sondheim by watching his parlor game cult classic ‘The Last Of Sheila’. (Co-written with Anthony Perkins, no less). RIP x pic.twitter.com/Cqd2FpUgtw
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) November 26, 2021
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
if you can’t hear into the woods in what i been doing listen closer :: the best to do it :: RIP
— jackantonoff (@jackantonoff) November 26, 2021
Thank you for everything Mr Sondheim. Speechless. We are so lucky to have what you’ve given the world. https://t.co/jtCOoX3Cyv
— Aaron Tveit (@AaronTveit) November 26, 2021
Stephen Sondheim was the best there ever was. I don’t know when we will ever have another of his caliber, of his breadth and scope. Just the greatest, a legend, a true titan. Rest In Peace. ❤️
— Uzo Aduba (@UzoAduba) November 26, 2021
Stephen Sondheim- thank you for all of the gifts you have given to the theatre. You have been an inspiration to me and it has been a joy working with you, and being in your presence. RIP, you incredible artist!! You will live as long as your songs are sung! #StephenSondheim
— Brian Stokes Mitchell (@bstokesmitchell) November 26, 2021
Thank you Stephen.
— Sara Bareilles (@SaraBareilles) November 26, 2021
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.
— Jesse Tyler Ferguson (he/him/his) (@jessetyler) November 26, 2021
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…
— Lea Salonga (@MsLeaSalonga) November 26, 2021
Let the endless tributes begin. And dim those mother fucking lights #SondheimForever
— Jackie Hoffman (@JackieHoffman16) November 26, 2021
He wrote me a wonderful permission letter to use “Old Friends” in American Gods. I avoided meeting him (failed only once) and refused dinner because I didn’t have many heroes. Now I’ve got one less. Thank you Stephen Sondheim so much. pic.twitter.com/soRo4G2ZFU
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) November 26, 2021
The eulogies written won’t cover a quarter of the impact you had on every theatre artist working today.
Your corporeal absence will be felt at the openings of new artists you often attended (including mine—thank you) but you will continue living in so many works.
RIP Sondheim pic.twitter.com/sJEZ4SBNmB
— Variety Screenwriter To Watch Jeremy O. Harris (@jeremyoharris) November 26, 2021
Devastating news. Hard to fathom that he was in fact mortal like the rest of us. But bow lucky are we to have lived in the world at the same time as this great man. No one can replace him. RIP. https://t.co/3fBLVn7SO3
— Judy Kuhn (@JudyKuhn1) November 26, 2021
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) November 26, 2021
Thank you. (And for the hat.) pic.twitter.com/7Km7g8uQJh
— Julie Klausner (@julieklausner) November 26, 2021
We just lost one of my favorite creators. Stephen Sondheim had the ability to always surprise us with his creations. From A Little Night Music to Company, from Sweeney Todd to West Side Story he put words and music to all the facets of our lives 💔https://t.co/KFn0zPrnqu
— Nina Garcia (@ninagarcia) November 26, 2021
Stephen Sondheim created fantastic worlds and characters, but at the heart of every story he told was a kid from New York City. And that kid was a legend.
One of the brightest lights of Broadway is dark tonight. May he rest in peace. https://t.co/VRgDEw9Dvc
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 26, 2021
thank you so much
for something between
ridiculous and sublime#StephenSondheim
— Darren Criss (@DarrenCriss) November 26, 2021
To the Master, Stephen Sondheim,
“It’s not where you start it’s where you finish!”
You changed my life and inspired me deeply! Thank you for all you shared with us! pic.twitter.com/jfNBzrtakv
— Giancarlo Esposito (@quiethandfilms) November 27, 2021
There is such a void, knowing we now suddenly live in a world without Stephen Sondheim in it. And yet, he will always be with us in his brilliant and peerless music and lyrics; a legacy for the ages.
— Alan Menken (@AIMenken) November 27, 2021
We have lost a great talent but his music will live long and prosper. Goodbye Stephen, we love you. Paul x 2/2
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) November 27, 2021