Matthew Warchus remembers Stephen Sondheim

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Sondheim is one of those artistic giants that we can consider it a privilege to even have lived in his lifetime.

He completely transformed not only the world of musical theatre but of all theatre, because he raised the creative bar for everyone who encountered his exceptional work.

A genius entertainer, he was emblematic of how it’s possible for mind-expanding complexity and often dark stories to go hand in hand with cathartic emotion and crowd-pleasing comedy.

His lyrics of course were simply phenomenal and I’ll never forget trying to hide my trembling when, in rehearsals for FOLLIES on Broadway, he handed me a sheet of manuscript paper with brand new lyrics for the extra bars we had added to the song ‘Loveland’. On opening night he gave me an unforgettable vice-like hug which was half rugby tackle and half passionate embrace. He often cried profusely during performances, rehearsals and even just conversations – which I always consider a wonderful thing, particularly in a man.

He certainly changed my life and I‘m sure that’s true of hundreds of thousands of other creatives and audience members. What an incredible legacy he leaves behind.

Matthew Warchus

Artistic Director