This morning some fans stopped by some of New York City’s finest piano bars to honor musical genius Steven Sondheim, who passed away suddenly yesterday at the age of 79.
One such patron was 35-year-old Darren Ritter. He passed by the Stanton Delaney & Company piano bar which he says was “paradise” to Sondheim.
Ritter sings in “Into the Woods” and sang a rendition of “Another Hundred People” from Sondheim’s musical “Sunday in the Park with George” at the Stanton Delaney & Company this afternoon.
Ritter explains, “Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a professional singer. I found piano one day, and joined orchestra for two years. And then came ‘Sunday in the Park with George,’ and within two days I knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I started auditioning and got hired to be in this show, ‘Sunday in the Park with George.’ And since then it’s been all on the rise.”
Others in attendance this afternoon at Stanton Delaney & Company included Larry Keating, conductor of the Theater Ensemble of New York, Jessica Todaro, and Sally Travis, among others.
Keating describes the mood in the pub, saying, “Steven died on a Sunday in the Park and he came here everyday at the end of that weekend. He would have his coffee, and then he would come back here for lunch, and for tea and coffee. It was an incredible experience for us all to be involved in the show. All the acts loved him – particularly all of his great duets. He’d come by, and he’d have us sing their songs and of course everybody’d want to perform one of his duets. He was a musical genius.”
The collective crowd is left in mourning for an adored idol — one of the city’s most vibrant, and beloved musical scene-ologists.
Todaro states, “The tragedy is that he didn’t get to experience the Broadway revival of his musical ‘Sunday in the Park with George.’ And he would have loved Broadway — but he didn’t get to experience it, unfortunately. We missed his big performance. “
After working with Sondheim for twenty-four years, Keating attests, “He was a musical genius.”
Travis, who comes from an acting family, reveals, “The thing about this person, and everybody has heard about the warmth of his warmth, was that he was extremely humble and incredibly generous. Whether you had met him before or had stayed in touch after he passed. Steven was a people person. And he left the world a lot of musicians who will always look up to him. I have so many people call me who have told me, ‘I had the great joy of meeting Steven or listening to him, and they said he was just the most wonderful person.’”
One fan captures the impromptu tribute perfectly, capturing Sondheim’s spirit just moments after his passing. Taken by Charlie Dumais, the image reads, “Rest in peace, Mr. Sondheim, you inspired countless musical artists, singers, composers, actors, and more. You were an unforgettable a life! May you now shine in the heavens above!”