Musicals / Plays
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The Best Musicals by Stephen Sondheim

Updated October 13, 2018 1.7k votes 268 voters 2.7k views20 items

List RulesVote up the best Stephen Sondheim musicals.

Often inspired by fairy tales, folklore, and classic literature, Stephen Sondheim musicals are beloved in the theater world. Often imbued with a touch of the macabre, Sondheim's works have a penchant for bringing archetypal narratives and characters to a more modern setting. While he sometimes pens bizarre musicals and disturbing stories, Sondheim's works never cease to fascinate. While all the man's shows certainly have their charm, what are truly the best Stephen Sondheim musicals? Below, you'll find all his plays ranked by fans. 

The top Stephen Sondheim musicals are filled with memorable songs that are often emotionally direct and inspiring. Sondheim has collected multiple Tony Awards over the years including Best Musical winners for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1963), A Little Night Music (1973), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979), and Passion (1994). His works have also solidified their place in more modern pop culture, with film adaptions of plays like Into the Woods captivating audiences. If you're in need of some show tunes recommendations, browse this list!  

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    Into the Woods is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault fairy tales, exploring...  more

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    Company is a 1970 musical comedy with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth. The original production was nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards and won...  more
  • 3
    Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a 1979 musical thriller with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler. The musical is based on the 1973 play Sweeney Todd, the...  more

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    #10 of 66 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals#3 of 35 The Best Broadway Musicals of the '70s

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    Sunday in the Park with George is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. The musical was inspired by the painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande...  more
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    West Side Story

    West Side Story is an American musical with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, libretto/lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and conception and choreography by Jerome Robbins. It was...  more
  • 6
    Assassins is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by John Weidman, based on an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr. It uses the premise of a murderous carnival game to produce a...  more

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    #124 of 185 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked#30 of 49 Stage Musicals That Would Make Great Movies

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    A Little Night Music is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler. Inspired by the Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night, it involves the romantic lives of...  more
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    Merrily We Roll Along

  • 9
    Follies is a book by James Goldman and Stephen Sondheim....  more
  • 10
    Gypsy is a 1959 musical with music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents. Gypsy is loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease...  more
  • 11
    Pacific Overtures is a musical written by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman. The show is set in 1853 Japan and follows the difficult Westernization of Japan, told from the point of view of the...  more
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    A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. Inspired by the farces of the ancient Roman...  more

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    Anyone Can Whistle is a musical with a book by Arthur Laurents and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The story concerns a corrupt mayoress, an idealistic nurse, a man who may be a doctor, and...  more
  • 14
    Passion is a one-act musical, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Lapine. The story was adapted from Ettore Scola's film Passione d'Amore, itself adapted from the novel...  more
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    Marry Me a Little

    Marry Me a Little is a musical with lyrics and music by Stephen Sondheim, conceived by Craig Lucas and Norman René. The revue sets songs cut from Sondheim's better-known musicals, as well as songs...  more
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    Saturday Night

    Saturday Night is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and the book by brothers Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein, based on their play, Front Porch in Flatbush. The musical was...  more
  • 17
    Road Show (previously entitled Bounce, and before that Wise Guys and Gold!) is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by John Weidman. It tells the story of Addison Mizner and...  more
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    The Frogs

    The Frogs is a musical "freely adapted" by Stephen Sondheim and Burt Shevelove from The Frogs, an Ancient Greek comedy by Aristophanes. In the musical, Dionysus, despairing of the quality of living...  more
  • 19
    Do I Hear a Waltz? is a musical with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Richard Rodgers, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It was adapted from Laurents' 1952 play The Time of the Cuckoo, which was the...  more
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    Evening Primrose