Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim dead at 91

(Reuters) -Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, who helped American musical theater evolve beyond pure entertainment and reach new artistic heights with works such as "West Side Story," "Into the Woods" and "Sweeney Todd," died early Friday at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut, at the age of 91, the New York Times reported.

Sondheim, whose eight lifetime Tony Awards surpassed the total of any other composer, started early, learning the art of musical theater when he was just a teenager from "The Sound of Music" lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II.

In a tweet Friday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said of Sondheim: "One of the brightest lights of Broadway is dark tonight. May he rest in peace."

Actor and singer Anna Kendrick called Sondheim's death "a devastating loss."

"Performing his work has been among the greatest privileges of my career," Kendrick added in a tweet.

"Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was mentored by Sondheim, has called him musical theater's greatest lyricist.