Stephen Sondheim's death: Stars pay tribute to legendary Broadway composer

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Tributes poured in following the death of Stephen Sondheim as performers and writers alike saluted a giant of the theater.

Sondheim died at his home Friday in Roxbury, Connecticut, according to his friend F. Richard Pappas, The New York Times first reported. The composer had celebrated Thanksgiving with friends the day before his death, Pappas said in his announcement.

“Rest In Peace, Stephen Sondheim, and thank you for your vast contributions to musical theater. We shall be singing your songs forever. Oh, my heart hurts…” tweeted singer and actor Lea Salonga.

“There are no words I can find for this loss. He would know what to say. Rest well, dearest Steve,” singer and actor Laura Benanti said on Instagram.

“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 tweeted.

Stephen Sondheim died at his home Friday in Roxbury, Connecticut, according to his friend F. Richard Pappas.
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Miranda continued in a second tweet: “& last week, when I wrote him to say his ears must be burning from the countless Sondheim kindnesses being shared from the generations of writers he mentored, he wrote this in reply. Steve: you repaid your debt to Oscar 1000 times over. We love you. I love you. THANK YOU. -LMM.”

“The theater has lost one of its greatest geniuses and the world has lost one of its greatest and most original writers. Sadly, there is now a giant in the sky. But the brilliance of Stephen Sondheim will still be here as his legendary songs and shows will be performed for evermore,” producer Cameron Mackintosh said in a statement.

Singer, actor and director Barbra Streisand tweeted: “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.” 

“Thank you for everything Mr Sondheim. Speechless. We are so lucky to have what you’ve given the world,” said singer and actor Aaron Tveit, via Twitter.

“He influenced all of us, whether we knew it or not. Rest In Peace. You were a gift to this world,” singer Kristin Chenoweth wrote.

Judy Kuhn tweeted: “Devastating news. Hard to fathom that he was in fact mortal like the rest of us. But bow lucky are we to have lived in the world at the same time as this great man. No one can replace him.” 

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

U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to theater composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim during an East Room ceremony November 24, 2015 at the White House in Washington, DC.
( Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A tribute from actor Hugh Jackman also reads: “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.” 

“For those of us who love new musical theater: we live in a world that Sondheim built. My spirit is low, and I swear the city is quieter than usual tonight with the knowledge that he’s gone. Feeling thankful for all he created and for the awe he will continue to inspire,” music supervisor, arranger and orchestrator Alex Lacamoire wrote on Twitter.

Chita Rivera added that her “heart is saddened for the loss.” 

“But my memories live on forever,” Rivera concluded on Twitter.

View of American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim onstage during an event at the Fairchild Theater, East Lansing, Michigan, February 12, 1997. 
(Photo by Douglas Elbinger/Getty Images)

Sondheim was considered one of the best composers of Broadway. His work included the lyrics for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy.” His catalog included “Company,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Merrily We Roll Along” and “Into The Woods.” His most famous ballad, “Send in the Clowns,” has been recorded hundreds of times, including by Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins.

Sondheim was recognized for his work and received Tony awards and even a Pulitzer. He won the 1993 Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime achievement and was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2013.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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