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Stars react to the death of legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim

Sondheim was the most decorated composer in musical theater and was widely considered a legendary creator.
/ Source: TODAY

Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, widely considered a musical theater legend, died on Friday and tributes to the highly decorated artist began pouring in after his death was announced later that night.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who worked with Sondheim on his recent film adaptation of the Jonathan Larson musical "Tick, Tick... Boom!" wrote on social media that Sondheim had been "real" and shared an email that Sondheim had sent him just last week.

"Steve was real & he was here & he laughed SO loud at shows & we loved him," Miranda wrote, in part.

A week ago, Sondheim attended live theater shows in New York City and saw a performance of his 1970 musical "Company," which returned to Broadway earlier this month.

Sondheim's other famous works include "West Side Story," "Sunday in the Park with George," "Into the Woods" and "Gypsy."

Rachel Zegler, who will play Maria in the upcoming movie adaption of "West Side Story," wrote on Twitter that her "heart was shattered" following the news of Sondheim's death.

In a second tweet, Zegler said she planned to "spend the night making music" in Sondheim's honor.

Social media accounts for the musical "Company," which was originally supposed to open on Broadway last year to celebrate Sondheim's 90th birthday, shared a tribute to the show's creator, and Patti LuPone, who stars in the production, tweeted a touching message as well.

"The last of the great Musical Comedy composers has died," LuPone wrote. "Steve, I will never be a able to properly thank you for the lessons learned. You are the Gold Standard."

Bernadette Peters, who collaborated with Sondheim on multiple musicals including "Gypsy" and "Sunday in the Park with George," thanked the composer for giving her "so much to sing about" and for the "gifts" he "gave the world."

Hugh Jackman, who will make his return to Broadway with "The Music Man" in January 2022, thanked Sondheim for the work he did.

"Every so often someone comes along that fundamentally shifts an entire art form," Jackman wrote. "Stephen Sondheim was one of those. As millions mourn his passing I also want to express my gratitude for all he has given to me and so many more. Sending my love to his nearest and dearest."

Other stars, including Tony Award winner Idina Menzel, "Modern Family" actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson and "West Wing" actor Bradley Whitford, who played Sondheim in Miranda's "Tick, Tick... Boom!" adaptation, shared tributes to the composer and creator.

"Goodbye dear sir. We will spend our lives trying to make you proud," Menzel wrote.

Ferguson said that he had never been "more tongue tied or star struck" than he had been when he met Sondheim backstage.

"His writing is the singular reason I wanted to be a musical theater actor," Ferguson wrote. "No one will ever come close to his genius."

Whitford shared a simple "Rest In Peace" message, along with a letter about the composer's influence.

"Audacity is too tame a word to describe his fearless need to push the limits of what the American musical theater could contain," Whitford wrote.

During his lifetime, Sondheim won eight Tony Awards, more than any other composer in theater history. In 1985, he and James Lapine were also awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for "Sunday in the Park with George."

Sondheim's cause of death is unknown and according to a statement obtained by NBC News from his attorney, F. Richard Pappas, his passing had been sudden.

"The day before, Mr. Sondheim had celebrated Thanksgiving with a dinner with friends in Roxbury," Pappas said in a written statement. "And he spent all day Wednesday seeing the matinee and evening performances ofDana H and Is This a Room — doing what he most loved to do."