“All of us who love and dedicate our lives to the performing arts felt profound loss last November when we lost a musical giant: Stephen Sondheim,” the His Dark Materials star, 41, said during the New York City-based awards show on Sunday, June 12. “Steve touched our lives in a multitude of ways through his immortal music and lyrics, through his teaching and advocacy for young writers and through letters.”
Miranda added: “Stephen wrote them to friends, to up-and-coming artists, to countless people who he never met. He wrote so many letters that you’d wonder when he had time to pick up a Black Wing 62 pencil and write a song. I stand here on behalf of generations of artists he took the time to encourage.”
The Oscar-nominated director’s tribute then introduced a musical eulogy of “Children Will Listen,” one of Sondheim’s numbers from Into the Woods. Bernadette Peters was tapped to perform the number, which was intercut with video footage of the late songwriter discussing his career.
Sondheim — whose musical Company was nominated for nine awards during Sunday’s show — died at his Roxbury, Connecticut, home in November 2021, according to his friend and lawyer, F. Richard Pappas. The late Tony winner was 91.
“Future historians: Stephen Sondheim was real,” the Tick, Tick…Boom! director tweeted shortly after learning the somber news. “Yes, he wrote Tony & Maria AND Sweeney Todd AND Bobby AND George & Dot AND Fosca AND countless more. Some may theorize Shakespeare’s works were by committee but Steve was real & he was here & he laughed SO loud at shows & we loved him.”
Miranda also shared a screenshot of an email that Sondheim had penned ahead of the Netflix premiere of Tick, Tick…Boom! earlier that month. He added: “And last week, when I wrote him to say his ears must be burning from the countless Sondheim kindnesses being shared from the generations of writers he mentored, he wrote this in reply. Steve: you repaid your debt to Oscar [Hammerstein] 1000 times over. We love you. I love you. THANK YOU.”
The Broadway production of Company — which earned the trophy for Best Revival of a Musical on Sunday— also honored the legacy of its composer after his death.
“You may have already heard the really sad news but Stephen Sondheim so sadly passed away in the early hours of this morning,” show director Marianne Elliott, who also won a Tony on Sunday for Best Direction of a Musical, shared with attendees at a November 2021 show, per an Instagram recording. “He was truly the greatest artist that we, in our lifetime possibly, will ever know in this art form. Obviously, everybody is very shocked because everyone on this production knew him very well.”