Stephen Soundheim’s work as a writer is so precise that he has become a subgenre of musical theater for himself. His work may not be a crossover pop hit in the top 40 charts, but it’s songs that include Hans Christian Anderson’s famous quote, “When words fail, music speaks.” Soundheim’s work draws deep emotional and human responses to the world around us in all its complex grandeur. Soundheim was not interested in giving a spectacular entertaining interruption for a few hours, but a way to help the audience learn how to overcome the difficulties of everyday existence.
Stephen Soundheim’s characters and lyrics are as complex and contradictory as the reality they reflect, acknowledging the truth that the world exists on the spectrum and is not binary, even if it is an easy reality to accept. His work completely changed the landscape of what was possible in American musicals, and as his mentor Oscar Hammerstein II encouraged him to write in his own distinctive style, so did Soundham “Rent” and fellow game-changers Jonathan Larson. “Tick … tick … boom!” Fame, and Groundbreaking Lynn-Manuel Miranda. Soundheim’s hidden voice cameo at the end of Miranda’s film adaptation of “Tick … Tick … Boom!” – A moment that now feels like a beautiful passing of the torch connecting the three legacies of the great artists of musical theater.