Tribute to Sondheim


Ashley Ragone

Stephen Sondheim, a titan in the Broadway industry and creator behind some of the greatest hits has passed away at ninety one years old. His influence is felt by actors across the world, and marquees are scheduled to go dark on December 8th in his honor.

Born in New York City in 1930, Sondheim became interested in music and composing at a young age. After he moved with his mother to Pennsylvania as a child, he met another acclaimed lyricist Oscar Hammerstein, who became his mentor. He shared his work with Hammerstein, collaborating with Sondheim to refine his work and learn about the ins and outs of theatre. He saw success for the first time after he wrote the lyrics for Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. Through the 60 or so years that Sondheim has written for Broadway, he has captivated audiences and launched the careers of countless actors that today are household names. His most notable works include Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Company, and A Little Night Music, all of which are still performed to this day due to their timelessness and universal values. Actors took to social media following his death to pay their respects to the legend, Ben Platt writing that his music led him “…to understand life, to celebrate it, to cope with it…”, Mandy Patinkin saying “I got to be in the room with Shakespeare” in reference to his time spent with the composer on Sunday in the Park with George.

Sondheim once said, “Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos”. He certainly enhanced the life of the theatre community with his brilliant works that he is survived by. He paved the way for several other great influences, including Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jonathan Larson who he is depicted as inspiring in the 2021 musical-based movie Tick, Tick… Boom! In his ninety one years, he made endless contributions that will never be forgotten and will be cherished by all. Mr. Sondheim, you will certainly be missed by everyone including myself, and your memory is a blessing.