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Steven Spielberg, Lin-Manuel Miranda, more pay tribute to Broadway innovator Stephen Sondheim: 'The greatest'

·10 min read

The American musical theater lost a giant Friday with the death of iconic composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim at 91. The Tony-, Oscar-, and Grammy-winning artist left behind an unmatched legacy of culturally groundbreaking work that includes the music and lyrics to Company and Into the Woods as well as the lyrics of West Side Story.

As news of Sondheim's death spread, fans and friends across entertainment mourned the devastating loss on social media.

"I am so so sad to lose my friend Steve Sondheim," Bernadette Peters tweeted. "He gave me so much to sing about." She added, "I loved him dearly and will miss him so much Thank you for all the gifts you gave the world Steve."

Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim

Douglas Elbinger/Getty Images Stephen Sondheim

"Farewell Steve, the musical theatre giant of our times, an inspiration not just to two but to three generations," Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote. "Your contribution to theatre will never be equalled."

Anthony Rapp added, "An extraordinary artist is gone. He gifted the world with so many incredible songs, & many performers' careers were catapulted by the signature, iconic material he wrote for them. May he Rest In Peace."

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who considered Sondheim a mentor and worked with him on a Spanish-language version of West Side Story, wrote on Twitter, "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."

In a testament to Sondheim's artistic legacy, two new interpretations of his work are set to open in the coming weeks: a Broadway revival of Company and a new film version of West Side Story directed by Steven Spielberg. In a statement, the Oscar-winning filmmaker said, "Stephen Sondheim was a gigantic figure in American culture — one of our country's greatest songwriters, a lyricist and composer of real genius, and a creator of some of the most glorious musical dramas ever written. 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."

He continued, "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."

In a statement posted to Twitter, Company revival director Marianne Elliott wrote, "We have lost the Shakespeare of musical theatre. He was the most generous collaborator with the greatest spirit. The joy of working with him was that he knew theatre could and should evolve with time. He was always open to the new. We dedicate this production of Company to his artistry and joy."

See more tributes below.

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