Entertainment

London's West End theatres dim their lights in tribute to Stephen Sondheim

The multi-award winning composer and lyricist died on Friday at the age of 91.

London’s West End theatres dimmed their lights to pay tribute to composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, who died aged 91 on Friday.

Members of the public gathered outside The Sondheim Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue on Monday evening to have a minute’s applause as the lights were lowered in London’s theatrical heart.

Flowers were also laid outside the theatre in honour of the US songwriter, who was been praised as a man who “fundamentally shifted an entire art form”.

The creator of the musical Sweeney Todd died on Friday morning at his home in Connecticut, according to the New York Times.

Laurence Olivier Awards – London
The multi-award winning composer was hailed a theatre ‘genius’ (Yui Mok/PA)

Following the news, a host of famous faces and theatrical leaders expressed their sadness at the loss of one of theatre’s “greatest geniuses” and said they were lucky to have worked with him.

Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, said: “The theatre world is a smaller place tonight after the passing of Stephen Sondheim.

“His legacy of extraordinary shows and songs will live on for many generations to come – but now, we pay tribute to his outstanding contribution to our theatres and celebrate his talent.”

Stephen Sondheim death
Members of the public gather and have a minutes applause outside of the Sondheim Theatre (Rick Findler/PA

Six of Sondheim’s musicals won Tony Awards and he also received a Pulitzer Price, an Academy Award, five Olivier Awards and he was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Honour.

Theatrical producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, who renamed his Queen’s Theatre venue after the composer in 2019, said theatre had “lost one of its greatest geniuses and the world has lost one of its greatest and most original writers”.

English composer Andrew Lloyd Webber paid tribute on Twitter, saying: “Farewell Steve, the musical theatre giant of our times, an inspiration not just to two but to three generations.

“Your contribution to theatre will never be equalled.”

Stephen Sondheim death
Flowers were laid outside of the Sondheim Theatre in tribute to Sondheim (Rick Findler/PA)

Actor Hugh Jackman, star of The Greatest Showman, said: “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.”

Tony Award winner Idina Menzel said: “Goodbye dear sir. We will spend our lives trying to make you proud.”

Lyricist Sir Tim Rice described Sondheim as a “master musical man”, while and Barbra Streisand tweeted: “Thank the Lord that Sondheim lived to be 91 years old so he had the time to write such wonderful music and great lyrics!

“May he Rest In Peace.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access