The genius of Stephen Sondheim

Chief theatre critics of The New York Times reflect on the stage musicals of the composer and lyricist, who celebrates his 90th birthday on Sunday

Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics for West Side Story (above) and the music and lyrics for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street.
Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics for West Side Story (above) and the music and lyrics for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street. PHOTOS: NYTIMES
Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and the music and lyrics for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (above).
Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and the music and lyrics for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (above). PHOTOS: NYTIMES
Stephen Sondheim.
Stephen Sondheim. PHOTOS: NYTIMES
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal as Georges Seurat in a 2017 staging of Sunday In The Park With George (above). The musical won Sondheim a Pulitzer Prize in the 1980s.
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal as Georges Seurat in a 2017 staging of Sunday In The Park With George (above). The musical won Sondheim a Pulitzer Prize in the 1980s. PHOTOS: NYTIMES
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NEW YORK • Stephen Sondheim has been the composer and lyricist of 15 stage musicals and the lyricist for three others. Ahead of his 90th birthday on Sunday, the chief theatre critics for The New York Times weigh in on all of them.

The start of Sondheim's Broadway career was inauspicious.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2020, with the headline The genius of Stephen Sondheim. Subscribe