Musicals by Sondheim – A Full List of Shows

Stephen Sondheim was a legendary composer and lyricist in the world of American musical theatre. Not only did he achieve the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, he also received eight Grammys, a Pulitzer Prize, an Olivier Award, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. And here is our list of the classic and ground-breaking musicals by Sondheim, sorted chronologically.


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Musicals by Sondheim

Saturday Night

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein

Musical Type: Golden Age (1955) / Pre-Contemporary (1997)

Saturday Night was written in 1954, but it wasn’t produced until 1997. It’s one of the lesser-known musicals by Sondheim and tells the story of Brooklyn bachelors in search of love.


West Side Story

Music: Leonard Bernstein  Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: Arthur Laurents

Musical Type: Golden Age (1957)

Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story follows the developing romance between two young lovers from rivaling backgrounds in New York City.


Gypsy

Music: Jule Styne  Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: Arthur Laurents

Musical Type: Golden Age (1959)

Gypsy tells the story of an eager stage mother who is determined to land fame and success for her daughter while secretly hoping for some fame of her own.


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: Burt Shevelove, Larry Gelbart

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age (1962)

Set in ancient Rome, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum follows Pseudolus, who attempts to obtain freedom. It won six Tony Awards, including “Best Musical”!


Anyone Can Whistle

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: Arthur Laurents

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age (1964)

Anyone Can Whistle is a quirky and unconventional musical about a corrupt mayoress who attempts to save her bankrupt town.


Do I Hear a Waltz?

Music: Richard Rodgers  Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: Arthur Laurents

Musical Type: Post Golden Age (1965)

Do I Hear a Waltz is a lesser-known musical about an American secretary who goes off to Italy and falls in love. But she soon realizes that things aren’t as easy as they seem.


Evening Primrose

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: James Goldman

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age (1966)

Evening Primrose is a musical that was originally written for television back in 1966. It’s about an unhappy poet who hides out in a department store after it closes.


Company

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: George Furth

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1970)

One of the first musicals to explore the complexity of modern relationships, Company follows the story of Bobby, who contemplates the pros and cons of finding a partner.


Follies

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: James Goldman

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1971)

Follies is a musical about the “Weismann’s Follies” showgirls who return to their old Broadway theater for a reunion before stepping on stage one last time.


A Little Night Music

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: Hugh Wheeler

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1973)

In A Little Night Music, we catch a glimpse into the romantic lives of a handful of couples in Sweden as they navigate their complicated relationships.


The Frogs

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: Burt Shevelove, Nathan Lane

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1974)

Inspired by The Frogs by Aristophanes, Sondheim’s The Frogs is a wild comedy about visiting the underworld and bringing George Bernard Shaw back to earth.


Pacific Overtures

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: John Weidman

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1976)

Pacific Overtures shines a light on the difficult westernization of Japan in 1853, and specifically on two friends who are navigating those changes.


Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: Hugh Wheeler

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1979)

This exciting thriller follows the story of Sweeney Todd – a barber who attempts to avenge the loss of his wife and daughter by selling “meat pies”.


Merrily We Roll Along

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: George Furth

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1981)

Merrily We Roll Along is unique in that it’s a semi-autobiographical musical about friendship, purpose, and the cost of success.


Sunday in the Park with George

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: James Lapine

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1984)

Inspired by the George Seurat painting, Sunday in the Park With George tells the story of George himself as he navigates his life, career, and relationships.


Into the Woods

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: James Lapine

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1986)

Into the Woods is a magical musical that incorporates many different fairy tales (like Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Witch) as their paths collide in the nearby woods.


Assassins

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: John Weidman

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1990)

Assassins is a wild and controversial musical that tells the tales of the various men and women who have attempted to assassinate the US presidents in the past.


Passion

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: James Lapine

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1994)

Set in war-torn Italy, Passion is a one-act chamber opera that tells the emotional story of a young soldier and his passionate love affair.


Road Show

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: John Weidman

Previously titled Bounce and Wise Guys, Road Show shares the adventurous story of two brothers who travel across the USA in pursuit of the “American dream”.

Musical Type: Contemporary (2003)


Additional Work by Sondheim

1966: The Mad Show (contributed to lyrics)  Listen➝

1969: “No, Mary Ann” – The Thing of It Is  Listen➝

1976: Side by Side by Sondheim (musical revue)  Listen➝

1980: Marry Me a Little (musical revue)  Listen➝

1981: “Goodbye for Now” – Reds  Listen➝

1990: Dick Tracy (Academy Award for “Best Original Song”)  Listen➝


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Which of these musicals by Sondheim is your favorite?

Or have you ever played a role in any of these musicals by Sondheim? Feel free to share in the comments below! And if you like these types of lists, check out the musical database. That’s where you’ll find musicals sorted by composer, theme, setting, and more!


Stacy Karyn, author of Musicals by Sondheim.
Author: Stacy Karyn

Stacy Karyn is the founder of Theatre Trip, author of The Thespian’s Bucket List, and creator of The Cast Album List. She has a TESOL drama certificate, a BA in theatre, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.


 

6 thoughts on “Musicals by Sondheim – A Full List of Shows

  • May 1, 2020 at
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    Stacey,
    Where is ‘Evening Primrose’? It’s not been included in your list.
    Jonathan

    • May 2, 2020 at
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      Hi Jonathan! Good question. I initially decided against including Evening Primrose since it was a musical written for television. But I think you’re absolutely right that it should be in there, and I’ve just added it to the list! Thanks for pointing that out!

    • May 3, 2020 at
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      Hi Kristina! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And what an inspiration he is! Putting together this post was my pleasure. 😊

  • February 6, 2021 at
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    I made some (totally inadequate!) notes talking to someone a couple of years ago who had worked with Sondheim .. which I’m trying to sort out. Did SS write a musical (apparently, early 80’s) with ‘Beat’ in the title? Can’t see anything in your very useful information. Maybe I ‘mis-wrote’?

    Thanks – Michael Gaum

    • February 6, 2021 at
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      Hi Michael! Thanks for the interesting question. This mystery would drive me crazy as well (and is actually starting to, haha)! As far as I can see, there hasn’t been a musical by Sondheim with ‘Beat’ in the title. But I just went through both the unproduced musicals section and the index of the Sondheim “Hat Box” books. Could it maybe have something to do with the music that SS wrote for Warren Beatty’s Reds? That was in the early 80s, and maybe there’s a chance that Warren’s full last name didn’t make it to the page of notes? Otherwise, I’m stumped! Can you let me know if you find out more? 🙂

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