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Following the death of Stephen Sondheim, Hollywood stars took to social media to share tributes and memories of the award-winning composer and lyricist who was known for revolutionizing American musical theater.
Sondheim, whose achievements included Company, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park With George and Into the Woods, died at 91.
The composer often collaborated with producer-director Hal Prince, pairing with him on musicals such as West Side Story and Merrily We Roll Along. Sondheim won nine Tony Awards as well as an Oscar, a Pulitzer Prize and eight Grammys.
Director Steven Spielberg, reflecting on his recent friendship with Sondheim, celebrated him not just as “a gigantic figure in American culture,” but “a lyricist and composer of real genius and a creator of some of the most glorious musical dramas ever written,” in a statement.
“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,” Spielberg said. “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.”
On Twitter, Uzo Aduba referred to Sondheim as “the best there ever was,” writing, “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.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda was full of praise for Sondheim. “Future historians: Stephen Sondheim was real,” he began. “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.”
Elsewhere, Neil Gaiman said a few words on Twitter. “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.”
Hugh Jackman wrote: “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.”
On Instagram, Jake Gyllenhaal shared a photo of Sondheim taken during the opening night of Sunday in the Park With George. Beside it, he wrote: “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 Simpsons writer Michael Price shared on Twitter an image of a letter that Sondheim wrote to him when accepting a cameo in the sitcom. “It’s been in a strong box under my bed since 2006.”
Paul Williams, president of the American Society of Composers, wrote in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, “The magnitude of Stephen Sondheim’s contribution to American musical theater is immeasurable and matched only by his immense generosity in influencing and mentoring new generations. We are forever grateful for his groundbreaking work, which truly evolved the art form of the Broadway musical, and for his support to The ASCAP Foundation to expand the possibilities for young people to experience the magic of the Broadway musical.”
Anna Kendrick shared on Twitter that “Performing his work has been among the greatest privileges of my career” and called Sondheim’s death “a devastating loss.”
George Takei, meanwhile, labeled Sondheim a “towering giant” and wrote that his legacy of song and lyric was unparalleled. “From West Side Story to Sweeney Todd, from Gypsy to Sunday in the Park with George, there will never be a master like him.”
Darren Criss thanked Sondheim for “something between ridiculous and sublime.”
Read these reactions and more below.
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
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. 🙏 https://t.co/jHX7ob9JWv
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
Just a few months ago the legend Stephen Sondheim joined us in person for an unforgettable conversation. Rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/qyhdjz9TX6
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) 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
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
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
“As a writer, I think what I am is an actor. I write conversational songs, so the actors find that the rise and fall of the tune, and the harmonies, and particularly the rhythms help them as singers to ACT the song. They don’t have to act against it.” –
Stephen Sondheim pic.twitter.com/dyg6Yi57ns
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
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
Here's the letter Stephen Sondheim wrote to me accepting our offer to cameo on The Simpsons. It's been in a strong box under my bed since 2006. pic.twitter.com/fh4MIKvZ1u
— Michael Price (@mikepriceinla) November 27, 2021
American musical theater has lost a towering giant. Stephen Sondheim's legacy of song and lyric in unparalleled. From West Side Story to Sweenie Todd, from Gypsy to Sunday in the Park with George, there will never be a master like him.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) November 26, 2021
Goodbye dear sir. We will spend our lives trying to make you proud. #stephensondheim
— Idina Menzel (@idinamenzel) November 26, 2021
thank you so much
for something between
ridiculous and sublime#StephenSondheim
— Darren Criss (@DarrenCriss) November 26, 2021
Rest In Peace Stephen Sondheim. You gave us something new. You changed the game. I was so lucky. pic.twitter.com/iF3iMKd5YJ
— Mario Cantone (@macantone) 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
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
RIP Stephen Sondheim, master musical man. His words for West Side Story alone would have guaranteed him theatrical immortality but there was so much more. He bestrode songwriting like a Colossus.
— Tim Rice (@SirTimRice) November 26, 2021
He left us with so many words, but none enough for this post. Goodbye, old pal. Thank you, Stephen Sondheim, for so much brilliance in the theatre and sharing your music with us all. pic.twitter.com/Qe55GcDQeS
— The Tony Awards (@TheTonyAwards) November 27, 2021
A genius. Was privileged to work with him once. Luckily, he’d written all the words… cuz I was pretty much speechless the whole time. Thank you, Stephen, for all you’ve given us. RIP #StephenSondheim https://t.co/530XO1r7oT
— Eric McCormack (@EricMcCormack) November 27, 2021
Mama said, “Darling, don't make such a drama.
A little less thinking, a little more feeling”
I'm just quoting Mama.
The child is so sweet
And the girls are so rapturous
Isn't it lovely how artists can capture us?
Thank you #stephensondheim
— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) November 27, 2021
A peerless composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim stirred our souls, broadened our imaginations, and reminded us that no one is alone.
He changed the theatre—and our culture—with his craft, his humor, and his heart. Everybody rise! pic.twitter.com/iWo3xcVh8g
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 27, 2021
It feels impossible to comprehend. What a devastating loss. What a tremendous life. What a gift to live in a world where his music exists ❤️ #StephenSondheim
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) November 27, 2021
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