Musicals / Plays

The Best Musicals by Stephen Sondheim 

Ranker Stage
Updated October 13, 2018 1k votes 192 voters 1.7k views 20 items

List Rules Vote 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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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, ...more

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#22 of 198 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #9 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals #5 of 38 The Best Plays Based on Books

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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, ...more

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#13 of 198 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #3 of 33 The Best Broadway Musicals of the 80s

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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 ...more

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#8 of 33 The Best Broadway Musicals of the 80s #20 of 45 The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway #17 of 49 The Best Grammy-Nominated Musical Theater Albums of the 1980s

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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 six. ...more

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#17 of 48 Stage Musicals That Would Make Great Movies #6 of 9 The Musicals You're Most Excited To See In 2020

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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

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#4 of 198 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #7 of 29 The Very Best Sung-Through Musicals #7 of 49 The Best Grammy-Nominated Musical Theater Albums of the 1980s

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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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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 ...more
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Merrily We Roll Along
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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

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#49 of 198 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #27 of 48 Stage Musicals That Would Make Great Movies

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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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#98 of 198 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #23 of 60 The Best Roman Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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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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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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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, ...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 ...more
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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 ...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 ...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 ...more
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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 ...more
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Evening Primrose