Sunday Sondheim

Along with many of my friends, I am gutted by the death of Stephen Sondheim, who wrote so many musicals I still sing along with (thank you, PBS, for introducing me to his work). I don’t use the term “genius” lightly, but that is exactly what he was, and he was committed to mentoring new generations of Broadway musical writers like Jonathan Larson and Lin-Manuel Miranda. There is much we can thank him for, from the lyrics for “West Side Story” and “Gypsy,” to the re-imagined song and story structures in musicals like “Sweeney Todd” (LOVE Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett!) and “Into the Woods” (Bernadette Peters as the Witch; need I say more?).

Perhaps no musical piece more touches my heart and soul than “Sunday in the Park With George.” The musical, inspired by Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” contains many of my favorite Sondheim songs, like “Children and Art” and “Finishing the Hat,” but it’s “Sunday” that I turn to for its sheer haunting beauty. It’s fitting that that was the song Miranda and other Broadway denizens chose to pay homage to Sondheim in Times Square. He was a giant, and he will be missed.