Stephen Sondheim Belittles Lady Gaga’s Sound of Music Tribute: “She Was a Travesty”

Stephen Sondheim and Lady Gaga
Stephen Sondheim dissed Lady Gaga's Sound of Music tribute at the Oscars, telling the UK's Times that "she was a travesty"  Walter McBride/Getty Images; Jason Merritt/Getty Images


Lady Gaga‘s Sound of Music tribute at the Oscars was not one of Stephen Sondheim‘s favorite things. The legendary composer — who’s known for musicals including Into the Woods, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, and Company, among others — told the UK’s Times of London recently that he thought the performance was “ridiculous,” and not in a good way.

Sondheim’s partner, Jeff Romley, who is 36 years old to his 84, “would crawl a mile to see” Gaga, he shared with the paper. But the eight-time Tony winner is more difficult to impress.

“On the Academy Awards she was a travesty,” he said. “It was ridiculous, as it would be from any singer who treats that music in semi-operatic style. She had no relationship to what she was singing. What people liked was her versatility.”

lady gaga performing sound of music
Lady Gaga performs “The Sound of Music” a the 2015 Oscars Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images

On the contrary, many viewers praised the “Applause” singer’s Sound of Music medley, which included the movie musical’s title track, as well as the songs “Edelweiss,” “My Favorite Things,” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” But Sondheim certainly wasn’t alone in his opinion.

Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Shonda Rhimes was unimpressed with the performance, too, tweeting afterward, “That was not okay. I mean, Idina [Menzel] is there. She is right there. RIGHT THERE. And oh dear God, Julie [Andrews] had to hear that.”

Andrews, who played Maria in the 1965 movie, was indeed present for the tribute. Unlike Sondheim and Rhimes, however, she thought Gaga did a great job with the music, as suggested by the emotional hug and thank you she gave the pop star onstage following the performance.

“The minute I got home from the Oscars I called her,” the veteran actress told ABC News in February, noting that Gaga had done her the same favor by calling prior to the show to discuss the tribute.

“I confirmed that I thought she was fantastic and had done a wonderful job, and I couldn’t thank her enough,” Andrews added. “She really did a wonderful thing with the medley. She sang superbly and then so lovingly handed me the evening on a platter, if you know what I’m saying.”

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