Sondheim’s most loved musicals

Take a look back at the composers most popular theatre works.


by Lorna White |

Following the passing of the musical theatre legend, Stephen Sondheim, we've rounded up some of the American composer's most-loved musicals that he's most well-known for.

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West Side Story

Inspired by Shakespeare's tale of Romeo and Juliet, the musical is set in 1950s New York City in the Upper West Side, then a multiracial, blue-collar neighbourhood. The story is focussed around the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds who have a deep rivalry. Tony, a former member of the Jets and best friend with the Jets leader, falls in love with Maria, the sister of the leader of the Sharks.

It first debuted on Broadway in 1957 and has since been turned into a hugely popular film, and has also had a number of hugely successful runs on the West End and on Broadway.

There's also a new West Side Story film out December 10, 2021 which has been directed by Steven Spielberg which is well worth a trip to the cinema for if you're a fan of the musical.


A real favourite amongst fans, Gypsy is loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee. It follows the dreams of Rose, Gypsy's mother, to raise two daughters to perform and have a career in show business.

It most recently appeared in London's West End in 2015, starring the brilliant Imelda Staunton as Rose.

Sweeney Todd

The character of Sweeney Todd comes from the Victorian penny dreadful serial and the original tale became London urban legend. It follows a barber from Fleet Street who murders his customers with a razor and his partner in crime, Mrs. Lovett, turns their bodies into meat pies - rather grim, we know!

The story was turned into a musical in 1979, and later into a film in 2007.

Into the Woods

Inspired by classic fairy tale stories, Into the Woods intertwines the plots of 'Little Red Riding Hood', 'Jack and the Beanstalk', 'Rapunzel', and 'Cinderella', as well as others. Each story and character are tied together by a story involving a childless baker and his wife and their dream of starting a family.

It first debuted in 1986 winning several Tony Awards. It was more recently made into a Disney film in 2014, receiving three nominations at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards.


This hugely admired musical is currently on Broadway in New York with a very special re-gendered twist, with the main character of Robert now being played by a woman, renamed to Bobbie. Originally created in 1970, it's a musical comedy which was nominated for a record 14 Tony Awards, and won six.

The story revolves around Robert, or now Bobbie, who is a single man with commitment issues. To celebrate his 35th birthday, five married couples who are his best friends, and his three girlfriends come together for the celebration as the story unfolds.

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