Broadway pays tribute to musical legend Stephen Sondheim

As Broadway mourns the loss of Stephen Sondheim, one of the greatest musical composers, performers take to the Red Steps of Times Square to pay tribute.

Split screen. On the left a black and white photograph of composer Stephen Sondheim smoking a cigarette. On the right a choir of several hundred people on the red steps of Time Square in New York.
Image: Wikimedia/@TimesSquareNYC

Yesterday morning, Sunday, November 28, hundreds of Broadway performers gathered in Times Square, New York to pay tribute to one of musical theatre’s leading composer-lyricists, Stephen Sondheim.

Sondheim’s lawyer and friend, F Richard Pappas, reported to The New York Times, that he had died suddenly on Friday morning in his home in Connecticut. According to the report, he had enjoyed Thanksgiving with friends the night before.

Sondheim, who was 91, is survived by his husband Jeffrey Romley, whom he married in 2017. Although the sexuality of several of his characters has been in question for many years, Sondheim himself didn’t come out until he was in his forties.

Best known for his musicals West Side Story (1957) and Sweeney Todd (1979), and hit song, Send in the Clowns from the 1973 musical A Little Night Music, Sondheim penned as many as 19 shows and was reported to have been working on a new show Fat Chance at the time of his death.

Throughout his prolific career which spanned seven decades, he received an Oscar for Sooner or Later from the film Dick Tracy. He also won an astounding eight Tony Awards and a further eight Grammy Awards.

The composer and lyricist has been remembered by many of his high profile friends and fans. Barbara Streisand recognised his contribution to the industry saying, “Thank the Lord that Sondheim lived to be 91 years old so he had the time to write such wonderful music and GREAT lyrics!”

Among the other tributes, Hillary Clinton tweeted “Stephen Sondheim stirred our souls, broadened our imaginations, and reminded us that no one is alone.”

High praise also came from Sondheim’s musical peer, Andrew Llyod Webber who tweeted to his followers, “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.”

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