London’s West End theatres are to pay tribute to Stephen Sondheim.
The composer and lyricist, famous for creating the musical Sweeney Todd, was described as one of theatre’s “greatest geniuses” after his death aged 91 on Friday morning.
To pay tribute, West End theatres will dim their lights for two minutes at 7pm on Monday.
Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, said: “The theatre world is a smaller place tonight after the passing of Stephen Sondheim. His legacy of extraordinary shows and songs will live on for many generations to come – but now, we pay tribute to his outstanding contribution to our theatres and celebrate his talent.”
Six of Sondheim’s musicals won Tony Awards and he also received a Pulitzer Price, an Academy Award, five Olivier Awards and he was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Honour.
Theatrical producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, who renamed his Queen’s Theatre venue after the composer in 2019, said theatre had “lost one of its greatest geniuses and the world has lost one of its greatest and most original writers”.
English composer Andrew Lloyd Webber paid tribute on Twitter, saying: “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.”
He also told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “A Little Night Music is a masterpiece. It’s one of the pieces I go back to play again and again.
“So many, many will focus on his lyrics because they are peerless, but for me as a composer, I just think his work was, really extraordinary.
“Sondheim was an absolute genius and the New York Times rightly calls him a titan of musical theatre. And that’s the only word I can think of.”
Lyricist Sir Tim Rice described Sondheim as a “master musical man”, while and Barbra Streisand tweeted: “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.”