Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda (‘Hamilton‘), ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ is a musical drama film based on Jonathan Larson’s semi-autobiographical musical of the same name. The movie follows Jonathan (Andrew Garfield), an aspiring theater composer trying to break through in the musical theater industry. In his quest, Jonathan faces many obstacles as he deals with anxiety and rejection.
However, his idol and inspiration, Stephen Sondheim (Bradley Whitford), provides him with words of encouragement that keep the young man moving towards achieving his dream. Therefore, it is natural for viewers to wonder about the man who had a profound effect on Jonathan. For those curious viewers, we have gathered all the details about the real Stephen Sondheim right here!
Is Stephen Sondheim Based on a Real Person?
For those who are unaware, yes, Stephen Sondheim in ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ is based on a real person of the same name. Born on March 22, 1930, Stephen Joshua Sondheim is a composer and lyricist known for his work in the musical theater industry. Born to a Jewish family, Sondheim lived in New York City until his parents’ divorce. He attended the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, followed by a stint in New York Military Academy.
Sondheim picked up an interest in musical theater at the age of nine. However, it wasn’t until he joined George School in 1942 that Sondheim wrote his first musical. He later graduated from Williams College in 1950 and studied music for two additional years. Sondheim was mentored by theater legend Oscar Hammerstein II and made his Broadway debut as a lyricist for the now-iconic musical ‘West Side Story’ in 1957 at the age of 27.
Since making his debut, Sondheim has gone on to deliver numerous hit musicals and is widely credited with reinventing American musical theater. Sondheim has won a total of eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy Awards, and an Academy Award. In the 80s, Sondheim mentored a then-unknown Jonathan Larson. He attended the workshop for Larson’s musical ‘Superbia,’ and their interactions are recreated in the movie.
Where Is Stephen Sondheim Now?
Stephen Sondheim is now 91 years of age and is married to Jeffrey Scott Romley. His most recent stage musical ‘Road Show’ premiered in 2008. ‘A Bed and a Chair: A New York Love Affair,’ a concert based on Sondheim’s compositions made in collaboration with Wynton Marsalis, ran from November 13, 2013, to November 17, 2013, at New York City Center. Sondheim worked with Lin-Manuel Miranda on a Spanish translation of ‘West Side Story’ and provided notes on Miranda’s musical ‘Hamilton,’ which went on to earn critical acclaim.
In the last decade or so, many of Sondheim’s works did not materialize. However, his work is gaining new recognition through film and television. Sondheim appeared in the 2016 documentary film ‘Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened’ about the production of his 1981 musical ‘Merrily We Roll Along.’ The musical is being adapted into a movie by director Richard Linklater while Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of ‘West Side Story’ is slated for release in 2021. Sondheim is currently hard at work on his next musical titled ‘Square One’ in collaboration with David Ives.