Stephen Sondheim, the greatest of modern musical theater composers and lyricists, passed away on Friday at age 91.
His early lyrics included those for "West Side Story" and "Gypsy," while his work as both composer and lyricist includes "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Company," "Follies," "A Little Night Music," "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," "Merrily We Roll Along," "Sunday in the Park with George," and "Into the Woods."
Sondheim, whose plays did not always achieve popular success when they opened, currently is having a moment - a new version of "Company" is in previews on Broadway, as is an Off-Broadway revival of “Assassins"; a new film version of West Side Story, directed by Steven Spielberg, is due out next month.
- KC's View:
Give me Sondheim over Andrew Lloyd Webber any day - Sondheim's work always is darker, more complicated, less concerned with being hummable and more focused on provoking thought and the consideration of new ideas.
Not to say that he wasn't fun and, sometimes, eminently hummable:
I've seen "Forum" twice on Broadway … once with Phil; Silvers in the lead, and, years later, with Nathan Lane. Brilliant … and much better than the movie.
I also saw the original production of "Sweeney Todd" on Broadway, with Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou:
And then, of course, there is this classic: