Stephen Sondheim, the beloved Oscar- and Tony-winning composer and lyricist behind such productions as “Company,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “Into the Woods,” and the lyrics “West Side Story” and “Gypsy,” has died. He passed away early on Friday at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut at the age of 91. The New York Times first reported news of his passing.
Sondheim’s many works also included “Follies” (1971), “A Little Night Music” (1973), “Pacific Overtures” (1976), “Sweeney Todd” (1979), “Merrily We Roll Along” (1981), and “Sunday in the Park With George” (1984). Sondheim won Tony Awards for Best Original Score for “Company,” “Follies,” “A Little Night Music,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Into the Woods,” and “Passion,” as well as Best Lyrics for “Company.” He also won eight Grammys throughout his life, as well as the Best Original Song Oscar for “Sooner or Later (I Always Gets My Man)” from Warren Beatty’s film “Dick Tracy.”
Recently, Sondheim’s words will return to the big screen thanks to Steven Spielberg’s new version of “West Side Story.” (Sondheim wrote the lyrics for the musical, with Leonard Bernstein scoring the music.) Sondheim back in September stopped by “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to talk about Spielberg’s version (penned by Tony Kusher), which he deemed a massive success.
“It’s really terrific,” Sondheim said of the film. “Everybody go. You’ll really have a good time. And for those of you who know the show, there’s going to be some real surprises.” Sondheim said Kushner “has done some really imaginative and surprising things with the way the songs are used in the story, and the whole thing has real sparkle to it and real energy, and it feels fresh. It’s really first-grade, and movie musicals are hard to do and this one, Spielberg and Kushner really, really nailed it.”
Sondheim is survived by his husband Jeffrey Romley and a half brother, Walter Sondheim.