Stephen Sondheim, Broadway Legend and 'West Side Story' Writer, Dead at 91

Stephen Sondheim, a Broadway Legend and the writer of West Side Story, has died at the age of 91. According to the New York Times, the stage icon passed away early Friday morning at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut. Sondheim's lawyer and friend F. Richard Pappas announced the news, reportedly describing the death as sudden. At this time, no cause of death has been reported.

Born Stephen Joshua Sondheim in 1930, the native New Yorker grew up to become one of the most iconic composers in Broadway history. In addition to West Side Story, Sondheim is also the musical mind behind plays such as Gypsy (1959), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979), and Into the Woods (1987). Over the years. many of Sondheim's works have been adapted into films, including West Side Story (1961), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966), A Little Night Music (1977), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), and Into the Woods (2014). 

There were also two versions of Gypsy, one in 1962 and a remake in 1993. In December, a new West Side Story film — as directed by Stephen Speilberg — will be released, and director Richard Linklater (School of Rock, Boyhood) is currently in production on an adaptation of Merrily We Roll Along, Sondheim and George Furth's 1981 musical of the same name. That film will star Blake Jenner, Beanie Feldstein, and Ben Platt.

The news of Sondheim's death has sparked many tributes on social media, with actor Josh Gad taking Twitter to honor the late legend. "Perhaps not since April 23rd of 1616 has theater lost such a revolutionary voice," he wrote. "Thank you Mr. Sondheim for your Demon Barber, some Night Music, a Sunday in the Park, Company, fun at a Forum, a trip Into the Woods and telling us a West Side Story. RIP." 

Writer Neil Gaiman added, "He wrote me a wonderful permission letter to use 'Old Friends' in American Gods. I avoided meeting him (failed only once) and refused dinner because I didn't have many heroes. Now I've got one less. Thank you Stephen Sondheim so much."

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Finally, actress Anna Kendrick also crafted a sweet memorial for the late composer. "I was just talking to someone a few nights ago about how much fun (and f—ing difficult) it is to sing Stephen Sondheim," she tweeted. "Performing his work has been among the greatest privileges of my career. A devastating loss."