Barbra Streisand, Bernadette Peters, Steven Spielberg, and Many More Salute Stephen Sondheim


Miranda, arguably the most groundbreaking post-Sondheim voice in American theater, was eager to pay his respects to the legend when the news broke Friday. (The Oscar mentioned in the tweet and email is, of course, Oscar Hammerstein II, the lyricist who mentored Sondheim as a young man.)

There’s even more Sondheim zeitgeist. In a few days, critics and VIPs will get their first look at the hotly anticipated remake of West Side Story, the lyrics to which Sondheim wrote opposite Leonard Bernstein’s music. (Sondheim was only 27 on the musical’s opening night.) Steven Spielberg, who directed the new version (collaborating with screenwriter Tony Kushner), gave a statement to Variety on Sondheim’s passing. 

“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’s statement read. “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.”

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Additional tributes to Sondheim include messages from Hugh Jackman, Idina Menzel, Anthony Rapp, David Alan Grier, Robert Duncan McNeill, Uzo Aduba, Lea Salonga, Anna Kendrick, Steven Pasquale, Josh Gad, and Jake Gyllenhaal.


Sondheim the Renaissance Man was also remembered by the tag team of Rian Johnson and Edgar Wright, shouting out one of his few non-musical projects, the screenplay he co-wrote with Anthony Perkins for the devilishly tricky whodunnit The Last of Sheila.

Dozens of Sondheim videos swarmed the internet, including from D.A. Pennebaker’s magnificent 1970 documentary Original Cast Recording: “Company,” one of the most mesmerizing looks at the act of creation put to film. One video, a moment of admiration from Stephen Colbert, sums up the sentiments of theater fans nicely.

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