Stephen Sondheim Passes Away at 91

Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim

Legendary Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim has died at 91 years old.

According to the New York Times, Sondheim’s lawyer and friend, F. Richard Pappas said he did not know the cause but added that Sondheim had not been known to be ill and that the death was sudden. The day before, Mr. Sondheim had celebrated Thanksgiving with a dinner with friends in Roxbury.

Born on March 22, 1930, Sondheim has written the music and lyrics for some of the most popular Broadway productions in the 20th Century, including West Side Story (lyrics), Gypsy (lyrics), Company (music and lyrics), Follies (music and lyrics), A Little Night Music (music and lyrics),  Sweeney Todd (music and lyrics), Merrily We Roll Along (music and lyrics), Sunday in the Park with George (music and lyrics), Into the Woods (music and lyrics), Assassins (music and lyrics), and Passion (music and lyrics), among others.

Sondheim has won 9 Tony Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Tony in 2008, an Academy Award, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, a Laurence Olivier Award, and a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom. He also has a theater named after him both on Broadway and in the West End.

Last year, Broadway and Hollywood stars came together in an online concert called Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration. The show was hosted by Raúl Esparza and featured performances by Meryl Streep, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, Audra McDonald, Christine Baranski, Donna Murphy, Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Kelli O’Hara, Aaron Tveit, Katrina Lenk, and Michael Cerveris, among many others.

In 2019, the local theater scene had what theater enthusiasts called The Manila Sondheim Festival as three of his productions all ran in the same year– Company by Upstart Productions at the Globe Auditorium of the Maybank Performing Arts Theater, Sweeney Todd by Atlantis Productions at the Theatre at Solaire, and Passion by the Philippine Opera Company at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium of the RCBC Plaza.

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