Stephen Sondheim: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and more pay tribute to musical theatre composer

Some of Sondheim’s seminal works include ‘West Side Story’, ‘Sweeney Todd’ and ‘Into The Woods’

Tributes have poured in for Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim who has died aged 91.

Sondheim was best known for musical theatre classics including West Side Story, Sweeney Todd and Into The Woods.

Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anna Kendrick, Uzo Aduba and more actors have remembered the renowned composer.


Jackman, who has acted in more film musicals in recent years including Les Misérables (2012) and The Greatest Showman (2017), wrote: “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.”

Jake Gyllenhaal shared a photo of Sondheim taken during an opening night of Sunday In The Park With George. He wrote: “I am grateful to have shared time with the master and maestro of American musical theater, and to have played his George. We have lost a giant. We will miss you. Rest In Peace.”

Orange Is The New Black star Uzo Aduba referred to Sondheim as “the best there ever was.” She wrote on Twitter: “I don’t know when we will ever have another of his caliber, of his breadth and scope. Just the greatest, a legend, a true titan. Rest In Peace.”


Hamilton creator said: “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.”

See more tributes at the bottom of the page.

The New York Times reported that Sondheim passed away early on Friday (November 26) in his Roxbury, Connecticut home. His cause of death is yet to be released, although according to Sondheim’s lawyer and friend F. Richard Pappas the renowned composer and lyricist had shown no signs of illness. I

t’s reported that he’d attended Thanksgiving celebrations on Thursday (November 25), with his subsequent death coming as a shock.

Sondheim was credited for reinvigorating musical theatre in the mid-to-late 1950. His first major work was 1954’s Saturday Night. He followed it up in 1957 with the cultural landmark West Side Story, which remains one of the most significant works in Broadway’s history (and earlier this year saw Stephen Spielberg helm its second film adaptation).

Sondheim’s rise continued with back-to-back hits in Gypsy (1959) and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (1962), while later productions like Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (1979) and Into The Woods (1987) cemented his legacy as a modern-day musical genius.

As a website dedicated to Sondheim put it best, his productions tended to “deal with unexpected themes that range far beyond the traditional subjects typically explored by American musicals”.

Outside of Broadway, he penned original compositions for such film and TV projects as Stavisky (1974), Dick Tracy (1990) and The Birdcage (1996), starred in PBS’ adaptation of June Moon, and delivered a cameo in an episode of The Simpsons.

Later in life, Sondheim became a mentor for many of theatre’s current stars, working closely with the likes of Jonathan Larson and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Personally, however, he was known for his introversion and reserved personality, once telling Frank Rich that “the outsider feeling – somebody whom people want to both kiss and kill – occurred quite early in [his] life”.

Sondheim was gay, coming out publicly at age 40 in 1970. He spent eight years with dramatist Peter Jones in the ‘90s, and married actor Jeff Romley on New Year’s Eve, 2017.

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