Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim attended one of his Broadway musicals eleven days before his death on Friday at the age of 91.
The Broadway show, Company, reopened to audiences on November 15 following its suspension due to the pandemic, and Sondheim was seated in the orchestra of the theater to watch the musical, which he wrote in 1970.
As he walked to his seat, the crowd stood and gave him an ecstatic standing ovation as he came in from a side entrance into the theater just before showtime.
Stephen Sondheim, 91, went to see one of his most famous shows less than two weeks before he passed away
The nonagenarian could be seen being chaperoned to his seat in the fifth row of the theater
Initially, few around him noticed as he made his way towards his seat in the auditorium
The cast of the show turned to face the composer to as they dedicated the performance to him
Those inside the theater got to their feet as they cheered on Sondheim as he was acknowledged
He moved along, a little unsteady on his feet, as he made his way to his aisle seat in the fifth row.
Sondheim waved to the crowd and pulled down his face mask briefly as he acknowledge the adulation.
Before the production began, the cast gathered on stage with Patti LuPone, one of the show’s stars stepping forward to make an announcement.
‘Stephen, the cast of Company dedicates this performance to you,’ she said with her voicing cracking with emotion.
Then, a single spotlight shone on him as Sondheim turned and waved.
Sondheim appeared to acknowledge the cheers from the audience as he took his seat
The spotlight shone on Sondheim as he briefly took off his mask to smile and wave
Before the production began, the cast gathered on stage with Patti LuPone, pictured, one of the show’s stars stepping forward to dedicate the performance to its creator, Sondheim
Sondheim could be seen turning to a companion as the cast applauded his presence
Director of the show, Marianne Elliott welcomed the audience back to the theater after being closed through the pandemic
Director of the show, Marianne Elliott welcomed the audience back to the theatre: ‘It is truly incredible to be back here at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre after 631 days,’ she said from the stage.
In January 2020, Sondheim took a fall at his home in Connecticut tearing a ligament. It led to him cancelling a trip to London where a theater in the West End was being renamed for him.
In a recent interview, the lyricist and composter revealed he was working on a new musical, Square One, together with playwright David Ives.
‘Not only are his musicals brilliant, but I can’t think of another theater person who has so chronicled a whole age so eloquently,’ Ives said in 2013. ‘He is the spirit of the age in a certain way.’
He achieved his first success with words only, supplying the lyrics for Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story in 1957. Pictured: Spielberg’s adaptation of the musical, released next month
Sondheim’s work is still very much a relevant part of the cultural scene.
Aside from the Broadway revival of Company this season, he features as a revered figure in the biographical Jonathan Larson musical Tick, Tick … Boom!
Steven Spielberg’s version of West Side Story, for which Sondheim wrote the lyrics to the 1957 musical opens in theaters on December 10th.
Another of his musicals, Assassins, a story which looked at the men and women who wanted to kill presidents, from John Wilkes Booth to John Hinckley, is also playing in a New York theater until January.
The show opens formally on December 9th after almost a month of previews
The scene outsider the Bernard B. Jacobs theater was a celebratory one
A sign of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Company – A Musical Comedy’ is seen outside the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in New York City this weekend