Jeff Lunden

Jeff Lunden is a freelance arts reporter and producer whose stories have been heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, as well as on other public radio programs.

Lunden contributed several segments to the Peabody Award-winning series The NPR 100, and was producer of the NPR Music series Discoveries at Walt Disney Concert Hall, hosted by Renee Montagne. He has produced more than a dozen documentaries on musical theater and Tin Pan Alley for NPR β€” most recently A Place for Us: Fifty Years of West Side Story.

Other documentaries have profiled George and Ira Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Lorenz Hart, Harold Arlen and Jule Styne. Lunden has won several awards, including the Gold Medal from the New York Festival International Radio Broadcasting Awards and a CPB Award.

Lunden is also a theater composer. He wrote the score for the musical adaptation of Arthur Kopit's Wings (book and lyrics by Arthur Perlman), which won the 1994 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical. Other works include Another Midsummer Night, Once on a Summer's Day and adaptations of The Little Prince and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for Theatreworks/USA.

Lunden is currently working with Perlman on an adaptation of Swift as Desire, a novel of magic realism from Like Water for Chocolate author Laura Esquivel. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Pages

Deceptive Cadence
2:25 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Labor Conflict May Lock Out Met Opera Workers

Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb has warned union workers of a lockout if a contract deal isn't settled by July 31.
Astrid Stawiarz Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 4:22 pm

The clock is ticking for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The world's largest opera company may be headed for a shutdown. Most of the union contracts for the Met expire in a week. Yesterday, Met General Manager Peter Gelb sent a letter to the unions, warning them to prepare for a lockout if they don't come to terms.

For months now, the company and its unions have been at an impasse. Management has proposed cutting 16 percent of union members' compensation. Otherwise, Gelb contends, the company could go bankrupt in two to three years.

Read more
Deceptive Cadence
3:24 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

New York Philharmonic's Lead Fiddler Rests His Bow

Glenn Dicterow joined the New York Philharmonic as its concertmaster in 1980. He has performed as its soloist every year since.
Chris Lee Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 9:58 am

Most people who attend symphony performances can spot the concertmaster. That's the first chair violinist who enters before the conductor and helps tune the orchestra. But the all important position calls for much more than that β€” from playing tricky solos to shaping the sound of the string section.

Read more
Theater
6:06 am
Sun June 8, 2014

While Broadway Sings Its Praise, The Wigmaker Remains Unsung

Wigs play an especially important role in the drama Casa Valentina. The play features Reed Birney (standing) as Charlotte, one of several male characters who spend their weekends dressing and living as women.
Matthew Murphy

Originally published on Sun June 8, 2014 4:34 pm

Every time you see a Broadway show, chances are a lot of the actors are wearing wigs.

Sunday night at the 68th Annual Tony Awards, Broadway's highest honors will be presented in a ceremony at Radio City Music Hall. Awards will go to actors, actresses, set and lighting designers, but not the people who make the wigs the stars wear, even though the wigs are an essential part of theater craft.

Essential, and yet often invisible, says Jason P. Hayes, the wig designer for Harvey Fierstein's Tony-nominated play, Casa Valentina.

Read more
The Record
1:56 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Well Into Spring, 'Frozen' Soundtrack Keeps The Charts Cool

Singer Idina Menzel (center) and Frozen songwriters Bobby Lopez (left) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez pose with gold records in February. Since then, the movie's soundtrack has sold over 1.5 million more copies.
Alberto E. Rodriguez Getty Images for Disney

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 1:26 pm

Disney's animated film Frozen has been racking up impressive statistics since it was released last November. Its box office earnings total $1 billion, worldwide, the movie won two Academy Awards, and on the first day the home video came out, it sold 3.2 million copies. But one stat has taken both Disney and industry analysts by surprise: The soundtrack has become a phenomenon, topping the Billboard 200 chart 13 times.

Read more
Theater
2:15 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Conflicting Tales Of A School Shooting In 'The Library'

In the new play The Library, ChloΓ« Grace Moretz is a teen who survives a school shooting, only to discover she's been accused of aiding the shooter.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 4:42 pm

The Library, a new play at New York's Public Theater, tackles an uncomfortable contemporary topic head on: It looks at the aftermath of a school shooting and peers into the shattered lives of the survivors, and the stories they tell. The play is written by Scott Z. Burns and directed by Steven Soderbergh, who've collaborated on three films; most recently, the thriller, Side Effects.

Read more
Theater
1:42 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Broadway Director Kenny Leon Opens Theater Doors To New Audiences

Ten years after first directing A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway, Kenny Leon is back with a new rendition of the play, starring Denzel Washington and Sophie Okonedo. (Also pictured, from left: David Cromer, Bryce Clyde Jenkins, LaTanya Richardson Jackson and Anika Noni Rose).
Courtesy of Rinaldi PR

Originally published on Tue April 8, 2014 6:09 am

Stage director Kenny Leon is one of the most sought-after creative talents on Broadway today, even if he isn't a household name. He's guided Denzel Washington and Viola Davis to Tony Awards in a Tony-winning revival of August Wilson's Fences, he directed Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett in The Mountaintop and he's got two Broadway shows opening within three months of each other.

Read more
Theater
2:21 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Road Between Broadway And Hollywood Isn't A One-Way Street

Andy Karl stars in the musical adaptation of Rocky, the story of an underdog boxer who gets a shot at the world championship. "You have to honor, I think, the integrity of what the original film is, but not be constrained by it," says Rocky producer Bill Taylor.
Matthew Murphey Polk & Co.

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 6:14 pm

Rocky: The Musical. Really?

Producer Bill Taylor says even the show's creators didn't buy the idea at first. "If you speak to all of the authors and all of the creative team, their instinctive reaction, when first hearing about Rocky becoming a musical, ranges from incredulity to plain crazy," he says.

Read more
Music News
8:26 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Collecting Money For Songwriters, A 100-Year Tug Of War

ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento, member Katy Perry and president Paul Williams at the 2012 Annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards in Hollywood, Calif.
Frank Micelotta PictureGroup

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 4:06 pm

A hundred years ago, the Italian operatic composer Giacomo Puccini was having lunch in New York with Victor Herbert, the leading composer of operettas in this country. Then, the band in the restaurant began playing music from Herbert's current hit, Sweethearts. Puccini became outraged, according to songwriter Paul Williams, the current president of the performing-rights organization ASCAP.

Read more
Theater
1:30 am
Mon February 3, 2014

'After Midnight,' And The Cotton Club Is Swinging Again

Fantasia Barrino, the American Idol winner who went on to play the lead role in Broadway's The Color Purple, was among the rotating roster of guest stars in After Midnight, a Broadway revue celebrating Harlem's legendary Cotton Club and the stars who performed there.
Matthew Murphy

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 5:43 am

Read more
Theater
1:26 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Broadway's 'Spider-Man' Musical Turns Off The Lights At Last

Reeve Carney (right) handed off the lead role in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark to successor Justin Matthew Sargent in September 2013. The show closes Jan. 4, and the Smithsonian Institution announced today that it's acquiring Carney's costume.
Rob Kim Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 7:23 am

Regardless of how critics and audiences eventually responded, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was always going to be one of the most-discussed shows in Broadway history. It had songs by U2's Bono and the Edge; it was directed by The Lion King's Julie Taymor; it was based on a hit Marvel franchise; there were going to be flying stunts right over the audience's heads.

And then somehow it all went very wrong, from injured actors to huge cost overruns.

Read more
Business
2:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

New Owner Promises Handmade Steinways For Years To Come

Some Steinway company representatives and employees β€” like Wally Boot, pictured here β€” have been working for the company for decades. Boot is the last person to touch every piano that leaves the factory in Queens, N.Y.
Craig Warga Bloomberg/Getty

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:30 pm

For 160 years, the pianos made by Steinway & Sons have been considered the finest in the world. So when hedge fund billionaire John Paulson recently bought the company, it struck fear in the hearts of musicians: Would the famously handcrafted pianos be changed, for the sake of efficiency? Paulson, who owns several Steinways himself, says nothing will change.

Read more
Theater
3:42 am
Sun November 24, 2013

A Couple Of Knights (And Matinees) On Broadway

Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen play Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot, one of two 20th-century classics they're doing in repertory this season on Broadway.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 11:50 am

Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart have known each other for years β€” they were both actors at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the '60s and '70s, and both achieved broader fame through movies and television. Both were knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for their work onstage and off. And then, of course, they were cast as mortal enemies in the first X-Men film 14 years ago, and have come back to the roles of Magneto and Professor X several times since.

"We became good friends as a result of shooting multimillion-dollar adventure movies," Stewart says.

Read more
Theater
3:11 am
Sun November 10, 2013

Here's A Wild Idea For Shakespeare: Do It His Way

Mark Rylance as Olivia (right) and Samuel Barnett as Viola in Twelfth Night. The Broadway production, which first played at London's Globe Theatre, is done in the Elizabethan tradition, with an all-male cast.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Sun November 10, 2013 10:54 am

This season, New York audiences have seen wildly different interpretations of Shakespeare plays. They've seen the Romeo of Orlando Bloom make his first entrance on a motorcycle; they've seen a production of Julius Caesar set in a women's prison.

Now the London-based company from Shakespeare's Globe Theatre has landed on Broadway with what seems like the most radical concept of them all: plays staged in a style Shakespeare would've recognized, with all-male casts, period costumes and live music.

Not A Museum

Read more
Books News & Features
3:48 am
Sun October 27, 2013

Energetic, Intimate 'Letters' Reveal Private Leonard Bernstein

Composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, shown here conducting the New York Philharmonic orchestra in 1963, was a legend in American music. Letters to and from Bernstein have been compiled into The Leonard Bernstein Letters, a new book edited by Nigel Simeone.
Express Newspapers Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 12:10 pm

Leonard Bernstein was a singular American genius. One of the great orchestra conductors of the 20th Century, he was also a composer of hit musicals like West Side Story, as well as symphonies and ballets. He was a teacher and television personality β€” his Young People's Concerts introduced generations of children to classical music.

Read more
Theater
2:54 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

For John Kander, A New 'Landing' At A Familiar Spot

David Hyde Pierce (center), Julia Murney and Frankie Seratch star in The Landing, a new musical from Broadway veteran John Kander, who co-wrote it with Greg Pierce. David Hyde Pierce previously starred in one of the latter collaborations between Kander and his late songwriting partner, Fred Ebb β€” the 2006 musical Curtains.
Carol Rosegg

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 6:40 pm

Broadway composer John Kander is a living legend: With his songwriting partner, the late Fred Ebb, he created the scores for the smash hit musicals Cabaret and Chicago, as well as the enduring anthem "New York, New York."

Now, at 86, Kander has a new writing partner β€” and a new musical, The Landing, opening off-Broadway Wednesday.

"Life Goes On"

Read more
Deceptive Cadence
3:59 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Chronicle Of A Death Foretold: New York City Opera Shuts Its Doors

The New York City Opera let its final curtain fall Saturday night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in a production of Anna Nicole by Mark-Anthony Turnage.
Stephanie Berger

Originally published on Wed October 2, 2013 4:16 pm

This morning the New York City Opera announced that it was declaring bankruptcy and ceasing operations. Dubbed "The People's Opera" by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia when it was founded 70 years ago, the company was meant as an alternative to the richer Metropolitan Opera. It's the place where exciting young singers like Beverly Sills and Placido Domingo made their New York debuts and where innovative productions of new operas premiered.

Read more
Theater
2:44 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

An American Masterpiece, And A 'Menagerie' Of Stars

In a Broadway transfer of the American Repertory Theatre's acclaimed production of The Glass Menagerie, Cherry Jones plays Amanda, mother to the very troubled Laura (Celia Keenan-Bolger). The play cemented Tennessee Williams' reputation as an American original when it premiered in 1945.
Michael J. Lutch

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 5:19 pm

Pop-culture aficionadoes will know Zachary Quinto as Spock in the cinematic reboot of Star Trek, and Cherry Jones as President Taylor from television's 24.

But both are accomplished stage actors as well. And tonight, they're opening on Broadway, in a revival of Tennessee Williams' classic play The Glass Menagerie.

Read more
Deceptive Cadence
4:05 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

New York City's 'People's Opera' May Face Its Final Curtain

Pamela Armstrong (left) as Alice Ford and Heather Johnson as Meg Page in New York City Opera's production of Falstaff. The so called people's opera may have to cancel its upcoming season if fundraising falls short.
Carol Rosegg New York City Opera

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 8:15 pm

There are a lot of operas that end with heroines on their deathbeds, singing one glorious aria before they die. That's what happens at the end of Anna Nicole, the controversial new work that New York City Opera is presenting at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in September. But the company's artistic director and general manager, George Steel, says it could also be City Opera's last gasp.

Read more
Theater
3:12 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

'Mr. Burns' And Friends, Surviving Long Past The End Times

Who's That Masked Marge? Jennifer R. Morris (left), with Sam Breslin Wright, Gibson Frazier, Colleen Werthmann and Susannah Flood, in the third act of Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, a Simpsons-inspired fantasia of loss and remembrance by Anne Washburn.
Joan Marcus Playwrights Horizons

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 4:11 pm

If the world as we know it comes to an end, will art survive? And if it does, what kinds of stories will be told after the apocalypse? The answer might surprise you.

The lights come up on a group of people around a campfire in the woods, trying to recall all the details of the hilarious Simpsons episode "Cape Feare," a parody of the Robert Mitchum and Robert De Niro movies, in which Bart Simpson is stalked by the evil but incompetent Sideshow Bob.

Read more
Theater
3:34 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

'Love's Labours,' Tuned Up And Playing In The Park

Daniel Breaker, a Juilliard-trained actor who's earned praise for roles as varied as Donkey in Shrek the Musical and the protagonist Youth in Passing Strange, gets to play a king in a new musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost.
Tammy Shell The Public Theater

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 5:14 pm

A few years ago, after songwriter Michael Friedman and writer-director Alex Timbers had finished working on their cheeky historical musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, they decided to look for a new project to work on. Friedman says they wanted the next show to have a completely different feel.

"So we started looking at Shakespeare," Friedman says. "And then, I think, we came to sort of, 'How amazing would it be to work on a romantic comedy?' "

Read more
Deceptive Cadence
11:38 am
Sat July 13, 2013

From Carnegie Hall, A Youth Orchestra That's A National First

Conductor Valery Gergiev leads the National Youth Orchestra through its first rehearsal with the maestro, at Purchase College outside New York City.
Chris Lee

Originally published on Sat July 13, 2013 11:22 am

It's a hot summer afternoon and the recital hall at Purchase College is abuzz with excitement and nervous energy. One hundred and twenty teenagers, from 42 states, are about to embark on an extraordinary musical and personal journey.

Clive Gillinson, executive director of Carnegie Hall, steps up to the podium to greet them. "Welcome to all of you," he says. "It's wonderful to welcome you here to the first-ever National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America!"

Read more
Theater
9:41 am
Sun June 9, 2013

In The Rush To The Tonys, A Late Glut For Theatergoers

Beloved veteran Cicely Tyson has a solid shot at the best actress award at Sunday night's ceremony; her performance in Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful has drawn critical praise and audience applause.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Mon June 10, 2013 10:03 am

This spring, more than in any recent year, the 2012-2013 Broadway season accelerated toward its conclusion: Nineteen productions opened between the beginning of March and April 25, the cut-off date for Tony eligibility. And many of those shows raised their curtains in the final two weeks of the season.

Read more
Theater
3:05 am
Sun June 9, 2013

Clothes Make The Man (And The Woman, And The Show) On Broadway

Laura Osnes, Santino Fontana and the ensemble of Cinderella β€” one of the Broadway season's more lavish musicals, whose costume designer, William Ivey Long, is nominated for his sixth Tony Award.
Carol Rosegg

Originally published on Sun June 9, 2013 4:37 pm

Part of what makes a Broadway show a Broadway show β€” read "splashy," especially if we're talking musicals β€” is the costumes. Some shows feature hundreds.

And a battalion of workers is involved in a highly choreographed backstage ballet, not just to keep the actors looking good but to help them change costumes almost instantaneously.

Read more
Theater
3:55 am
Sat May 25, 2013

Equity At 100: More Than Just A Broadway Baby

His statue may be a Theater District landmark now, but George M. Cohan caused no small amount of trouble for Actors' Equity early in its history. The union marks its 100th anniversary this year.
Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat May 25, 2013 11:19 am

"Don't put your daughter on the stage," Noel Coward famously cautioned his imaginary Mrs. Worthington, and no wonder: Stage acting is one of the toughest professions imaginable. For all the potential triumph, there's hardly any job security β€” and more than a little potential for heartbreak and disappointment.

Read more
Music Interviews
12:03 am
Sat May 18, 2013

Audra McDonald, A Broadway Star Gone Roaming, Comes Home

Audra McDonald's new album, Go Back Home, marks a return to her roots in musical theater.
Autumn de Wilde Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 7:24 am

In the seven years since her last album, Audra McDonald has kept busy. She spent several years in Hollywood, filming the television series Private Practice. She's gotten divorced and remarried, absorbed the shock of losing her father in a plane crash and watched her daughter, Zoe, grow up from a kindergartener to a middle-schooler.

Read more
Theater
1:23 am
Thu April 25, 2013

'Pippin' Revival Is A Circus Of A Show

The role of the Leading Player (Patina Miller) becomes a kind of circus ringmaster in the new Broadway revival of Stephen Schwartz's 1972 musical Pippin.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 12:46 am

When Pippin opened in 1972, it was a sensation. Directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, who was coming off his Academy Award-winning film version of Cabaret, it was a showbiz triumph of jazz hands, sexy dancing and theatrical magic.

Read more
Theater
3:02 pm
Sat April 13, 2013

A 'Caesar' With An African Accent

Patterson Joseph plays Brutus, the friend whose betrayal wounds Caesar most β€” and whose suicide caps off the play's second act.
Richard Termine BAM

Originally published on Sat April 13, 2013 4:09 pm

The 400-year-old plays of William Shakespeare are constantly being reinterpreted and re-envisioned for new generations. Recently, England's Royal Shakespeare Company produced a Julius Caesar set in contemporary Africa that was a hit at the World Shakespeare Festival, presented in conjunction with the London Olympics. Now the RSC has brought it to America.

Read more
Theater
12:32 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

'Matilda' Brings Beloved Book To Broadway

The Broadway cast of Matilda the Musical, including Olivier Award-winning actor Bertie Carvel as the barbaric headmistress Miss Trunchbull.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 3:49 pm

Matilda is a well-loved book by Roald Dahl, who's been called the greatest children's storyteller of the 20th century. It's about a much-put-upon little girl with tremendous gifts. Now, Matilda has been turned into a Broadway musical.

The British import, which won last year's prestigious Olivier Award and features a revolving cast of four little girls in the lead role, opens in New York tonight.

Read more
Theater
2:33 am
Sat April 6, 2013

On Broadway, Old Shows And New Tricks

Willemjin Verkaik is the latest leading lady to play Elphaba, the misunderstood green girl who grows up to become the Wicked Witch of the West in Broadway's long-running Wicked. She has also played the role in Dutch and German in Europe.
Bankhoff-Mogenburg

Originally published on Sun April 7, 2013 9:08 am

When I was a teenager falling in love with the theater, I picked up a book called Broadway's Greatest Musicals. The sole criterion for inclusion was that a show run for at least 500 performances, which translates to about a year and a quarter.

How quaint.

Read more
Theater
1:17 am
Thu April 4, 2013

'Kinky Boots' Walk Cyndi Lauper To Broadway

Struggling shoe-factory owner Charlie (Stark Sands, left) is inspired by drag queen Lola (Billy Porter) to make high-quality high-heeled boots for men who perform as women in the Broadway adaptation of the cult film Kinky Boots.
O and M Co.

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 8:01 am

If you ask Billy Porter, one of the lead actors in the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, what the show's about, he's got a succinct answer:

"It's about two people who have daddy issues," Porter says. "And one of them just happens to wear a dress."

Porter would be that guy: He plays Lola, a fabulous drag queen who inadvertently helps save a failing shoe factory in the English Midlands. And he gets to sing fabulous songs β€” by Cyndi Lauper.

Read more

Pages