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 — 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.

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Theater
3:25 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Nora Ephron's 'Lucky Guy' And Tom Hanks Make Their Broadway Debuts

Nora Ephron's final play, Lucky Guy, tells the story of controversial New York columnist Mike McAlary, played by Tom Hanks. (Also pictured: Peter Gerety as John Cotter).
Boneau / Bryan-Brown

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 6:57 pm

Several years ago, when Nora Ephron handed Tom Hanks an early draft of Lucky Guy, her play about tabloid journalist Mike McAlary, he had a pretty strong reaction.

"I said, 'Well, that guy's sure a jerk!' I used another word besides jerk — I know what you can say on NPR," he says. "And she laughed and she said, 'Well, he kinda was. But he was kinda great, too.'"

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Theater
3:45 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

For This Pair Of Clowns, 'Old Hats' Means New Laughs

Nellie McKay, David Shiner and Bill Irwin use old-time comedy, newfangled tricks and zany music to score laughs in their new theatrical revue, Old Hats.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 5:14 pm

Twenty years ago, theatrical clowns Bill Irwin and David Shiner collaborated on a Broadway show called Fool Moon — a giddy mixture of slapstick, improv and audience participation that proved such a success that it came back to Broadway for two more runs and toured both the U.S. and Europe. Now Irwin and Shiner have put together a new show called Old Hats, and it's been receiving rave reviews off-Broadway.

Irwin and Shiner's rubber-faced, loose-bodied clowning hasn't gotten easier over two decades.

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Theater
4:05 am
Sat March 2, 2013

'Don't Underestimate The Guts' Of This Modern Leading Lady

Laura Osnes appears in the title role of a new Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. Though her career began unconventionally, she's already had considerably conventional success.
Carol Rosegg

Originally published on Sat March 2, 2013 9:04 am

This weekend, a new adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein television classic Cinderella opens on Broadway. It stars Laura Osnes, the ingenue of the moment. But Osnes' career path has had an unusual trajectory.

Six years ago, the then-21-year-old was newly wed and fresh out of Minnesota. She landed on Broadway in the lead role of Sandy in a revival of Grease. It's not surprising that that show, about teenagers, would cast unknowns in the leads, but how she and her co-star, Max Crumm, got there was unconventional, to say the least.

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History
1:40 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Grand Central, A Cathedral For Commuters, Celebrates 100

Originally published on

Friday marks the day that 100 years ago, Grand Central Terminal opened its doors for business for the very first time. The largest railroad terminal in the world, the magnificent Beaux-Arts building is in the heart of New York City on 42nd St. And while it no longer serves long-distance trains, it's still a vibrant part of the city's eco-system.

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Theater
4:55 am
Sun January 27, 2013

25 Years Strong, 'Phantom Of The Opera' Kills And Kills Again

Hugh Panaro is The Phantom and Sierra Boggess is Christine in the 25th anniversary cast of The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Sun January 27, 2013 11:31 am

The longest-running Broadway musical ever, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, celebrated Saturday another milestone: its 25th anniversary.

When it all started Jan. 26, 1988, Ronald Reagan was president of the United States, a gallon of gas cost about 90 cents and a ticket to The Phantom of the Opera was a whopping $50. It was the hottest ticket in town.

Times have changed, prices have changed, but that disfigured, tortured genius who haunts the Paris Opera House, creating havoc and causing the chandelier to fall, has endured.

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Music News
12:03 am
Sat January 26, 2013

The Composer Who Tested Fighter Planes And Partied With Sinatra

Jimmy Van Heusen with Frank Sinatra in the 1950s. Van Heusen wrote dozens of songs for the crooner and became Sinatra's close friend and confidant.
Courtesy of Burns Media Productions

Originally published on Sat January 26, 2013 3:36 pm

You've never heard of Jimmy Van Heusen? Well, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers has. You certainly know many of his songs, says Brook Babcock, Van Heusen's grandnephew and president of his publishing company.

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Theater
1:45 am
Thu January 17, 2013

A Cooler Roof For A New 'Cat'

In Rob Ashford's new production of the classic play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Scarlett Johansson plays an earthier version of restless sex kitten Maggie.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 9:11 am

There are certain classic American plays that are revived on Broadway every decade or so, to let a new generation of actors and audiences discover them. Tennessee Williams' 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, running through March 30, is one of those iconic plays.

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Theater
1:47 am
Tue January 8, 2013

A Vet's Haunted Homecoming In 'Water By The Spoonful'

Liza Colon-Zayas plays a troubled character named Odessa Ortiz, who finds her better self online. She's pictured above with Bill Heck, as Fountainhead.
Richard Termine

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 4:06 am

The cliche about writers is they should write what they know, and that old saw has certainly worked for Quiara Alegria Hudes. The 35-year-old playwright has mined her Puerto Rican family's stories into a series of plays, a musical and even a children's book. Now, her Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Water by the Spoonful, is being brought to life in the first New York production of the play, opening off-Broadway on Tuesday evening.

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Theater
1:27 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Broadway's Profit-Turning, Crowd-Pleasing Christmas Story

Jordan Gelber plays Buddy the Elf in Elf on Broadway. The limited-run production may not turn a profit immediately, but producers have a multipronged strategy for making money.
Joan Marcus The Hartman Group

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 6:37 pm

The Christmas season is when retailers make the bulk of their profits, Hollywood blockbusters rake it in, and Broadway theaters are filled to capacity. In recent seasons, Broadway has even staged special limited-run holiday musicals — among them, adaptations of A Christmas Story and Elf — to take advantage of the hordes of tourists in New York looking for entertainment. But with production costs so high, how can these shows make their money back? The answer, it turns out, is complicated.

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Deceptive Cadence
2:03 am
Fri November 30, 2012

The Peony Pavilion: A Vivid Dream In A Garden

A garden serves as the stage in the opera.
Zhang Yi

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 7:43 pm

The Peony Pavilion is one of China's most famous operas, but uncut performances of this romantic 16th century work can take more than 22 hours. Chinese composer Tan Dun, who's best known for his Academy Award-winning score for the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, has adapted the work into a compact 75 minutes.

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Deceptive Cadence
10:00 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

John Williams' Inevitable Themes

Flanked by composer Leonard Slatkin and soprano Jessye Norman, John Williams takes a bow during his 80th-birthday celebration at Tanglewood in August.
Stu Rosner

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 8:52 am

For more than 50 years, John Williams' music has taken us to galaxies far, far away through adventures here on earth, made us feel giddy joy and occasionally scared us to death.

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Arts & Life
4:35 am
Sun November 4, 2012

Sandy Pulls Curtain Over N.Y. Art Scene

Originally published on Sun November 4, 2012 10:08 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Among the areas hit hard by Superstorm Sandy were Manhattan neighborhoods like Greenwich Village and Chelsea, home to many of the city's art galleries, jazz clubs, dance venues and off-Broadway theaters. Jeff Lunden spoke with some of those making plans to get back to work now that power has returned.

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Performing Arts
3:35 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Broadway To Sandy: The Show Is Back On

Superstorm Sandy starting hitting New York on Monday. By Wednesday, life had returned to the Time Square theater district.
John Lamparski Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 4:42 pm

One of New York's biggest economic engines reopened on Wednesday after being dark in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Broadway brings in more than $1 billion in annual ticket sales and billions more in revenue from hotels, restaurants and other businesses in the Times Square area. But getting Broadway running, with much of the transportation system down, required some extreme measures.

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Theater
3:44 am
Sun October 28, 2012

Star-Studded 'Heiress' Considers A Woman's Worth

Jessica Chastain makes her Broadway debut as Catherine Sloper in The Heiress. Chastain says she was moved by the arc of her character's story — initially defined by the men in her life, but ultimately finding strength in herself.
(c) 2012 Joan Marcus

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 8:58 am

A much-anticipated revival of The Heiress, a 1947 play based on the Henry James novella Washington Square, opens in New York on Thursday. It marks the Broadway debut of two accomplished young stars — Jessica Chastain, the Academy Award nominee from The Help, and Dan Stevens, from the hit television series Downton Abbey.

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Deceptive Cadence
12:03 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Philadelphia Orchestra Reboots With New Music Director

Yannick Nezet-Seguin leads the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Ryan Donnell

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 10:11 am

Everywhere you look right now, it seems like American symphony orchestras are fighting for their lives — strikes, lockouts, bankruptcy. Perhaps the biggest example is the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra, which is just coming out of its own bankruptcy. Tonight, its new 37-year-old music director takes the podium as the venerable orchestra begins a reboot.

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Deceptive Cadence
2:06 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

During Lockout Season, Orchestra Musicians Grapple With Their Future

The Minnesota Orchestra is one of many orchestras around the country dealing with labor disputes.
Greg Helgeson

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 11:05 am

It's been a tumultuous time for American orchestras. Labor disputes have shut down the Minnesota Orchestra and Indianapolis Symphony, and strikes and lockouts have affected orchestras in Chicago, Atlanta and Louisville in the past year.

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Theater
1:33 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Shorts Inspire Music In 'Sounding Beckett' Trilogy

In Ohio Impromptu, one of three short plays featured in Sounding Beckett, the silent character (Philip Goodwin, left, with Ted van Griethuysen) inspired music based on knocks and repetitions.
Jeremy Tressler Sounding Beckett

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 5:09 pm

It all began last year, when the Library of Congress presented Samuel Beckett's Ohio Impromptu alongside a piece of music by composer Dina Koston, which responded to the text. A New York group, the Cygnus Ensemble, played the music, while Washington, D.C., director Joy Zinoman staged the play, for one night only.

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Performing Arts
2:49 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

In New York, Two Big Arts Institutions Go Small

LCT3's Claire Tow Theater is a two-story structure built on a steel truss that straddles the roof of Lincoln's Vivian Beaumont Theater. Before or after performances, theatergoers can mingle over drinks at a roofdeck bar that overlooks Lincoln Center and the surrounding neighborhood.
Francis Dzikowski/ESTO Courtesy of H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 6:21 pm

Lincoln Center represents New York culture with a capital C. The Brooklyn Academy of Music, or BAM, across the river, has long presented scrappy alternative programming. But both recognize that to survive and thrive, they need to develop new works and new audiences.

Now, those two big artistic institutions have decided to go small. The Lincoln Center Theater and the Brooklyn Academy of Music have invested millions of dollars to fund new theater spaces for new work.

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Theater
4:24 am
Sun September 2, 2012

Broadway Spoofers Return To 'Forbidden' Territory

Natalie Charle Ellis, Scott Richard Foster, Jenny Lee Stern and Marcus Stevens are part of Gerard Alessandrini's Forbidden Broadway troupe, which is returning to the stage after a three-year hiatus.
Carol Rosegg Forbidden Broadway

After 27 years of writing wickedly funny lyrics and sketches for Forbidden Broadway, the tiny off-Broadway comedy that satirizes Broadway musicals, Gerard Alessandrini decided to hang things up for a while.

"I just thought, let's see what happens to Broadway in a year or two or three, and then, if we feel it warrants a new edition of Forbidden Broadway, we'll do that," he says. "And that's exactly what happened."

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Deceptive Cadence
4:39 am
Sat August 4, 2012

Gathering Of The Viols: The 50th Annual Viola Da Gamba Conclave

Jack Ashworth, Tina Chancey, Lisa Terry and Phillip Serna perform Sunday during the closing banquet of the weeklong conclave at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del.
Scott Mason

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 1:59 pm

Viola da gamba players are a special breed — a tiny subset in the already small world of early classical music. They rarely meet their own kind, but once a year they come together for a week in July at an annual jam session they call a conclave. Wendy Gillespie, who just finished her term as president of the Viola da Gamba Society of America, says attending the event is the highlight of her year.

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Remembrances
11:43 am
Sun July 15, 2012

'Oklahoma!' Actress Celeste Holm Dies At 95

Originally published on Sun July 15, 2012 4:10 pm

Academy Award-winning actress Celeste Holm has died. A star on both stage and screen, Holm was best known for roles in Gentleman's Agreement, All About Eve and Oklahoma! She was 95.

Holm died early Sunday morning in her Manhattan apartment with her husband, family and close friends by her side. She had been hospitalized a couple weeks ago following a fire in actor Robert De Niro's apartment in the same building.

If there was one role that put Holm on the map, it was as the coquettish Ado Annie, in the 1943 hit musical, Oklahoma!

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Deceptive Cadence
12:03 am
Sat July 14, 2012

Tanglewood: Celebrating Beethoven In The Backwoods For 75 Years

Christoph von Dohnanyi and the Boston Symphony play Beethoven in the opening night concert of the Tanglewood Festival's 75th anniversary.
Hilary Scott Boston Symphony

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 2:22 pm

It now seems like a natural rite of summer — open-air classical music festivals where audiences can hear great music while picnicking under the stars. But 75 years ago, when the Boston Symphony first performed on a former estate called Tanglewood in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts, it was a novel idea.

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Theater
1:23 am
Tue July 10, 2012

A One-Man Madhouse, With Murder On His Mind

Alan Cumming plays Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Banquo and many other characters in a one-man adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy set in a psychiatric ward. The show plays as part of the Lincoln Center Festival in New York through July 14.
Manuel Harlan Lincoln Center

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 12:25 pm

The lights come up on a large hospital ward, its green institutional tiles slightly mildewed around the edges. An ominous white noise hums underneath.

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Music News
2:54 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Young Musicians Leave Nest For New Opportunities

Nathan Schram (back row, third from left) performs with his students from PS 75 in Brooklyn.
Stephanie Berger Getty Images

Originally published on Sat June 30, 2012 6:48 am

The odds of making it in the classical music business are long, but for the past two years, 25-year-old viola player Nathan Schram has received a stipend, health insurance, lots of amazing performance opportunities and a real-world education teaching violin students at an inner-city elementary school in Brooklyn. Now, Schram and his colleagues have to say goodbye to The Academy.

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Theater
1:49 am
Thu June 21, 2012

50 Years Later, Still Free, Still Battling The Weather

Orlando (David Furr), Rosalind (Lily Rabe, right) and Celia (Renee Elise Goldsberry) in As You Like It. The Public Theater's production opens the 50th-anniversary season at New York's Delacorte Theater.
Joan Marcus The Public Theater

Originally published on Thu June 21, 2012 4:21 am

On Monday evening, one of New York's most cherished cultural institutions celebrated an anniversary. The Delacorte Theater, home of the free annual Shakespeare in the Park, turned 50, and Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline led an all-star cast in a staged reading of Romeo and Juliet.

When Kline was still a student in the drama program at The Juilliard School, he made his professional debut at the Delacorte. "My first job was carrying a spear in Richard III," he remembers.

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Theater
10:03 pm
Sat June 9, 2012

Behind The Stars, The Sets That Help Them Shine

The idea behind Ost's design was to keep the set out of the way of the storytelling --€” and of Newsies' kinetic ensemble.
Mike Coppola Getty Images

Originally published on Sun June 10, 2012 1:50 pm

Broadway caps off its 2011-2012 season June 10 at the 66th annual Tony Awards, and while the focus will mostly be on the nominated shows and actors, some attention must be paid to the set designers — the people who help create the environments that let those shows and actors shine.

Take Daniel Ostling: When he read Bruce Norris' script for Clybourne Park, a play that takes place in a very realistic Chicago bungalow, the veteran scenarist quickly came to a realization: "The house is actually a character."

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Theater
10:03 pm
Sat June 9, 2012

Tony Predictions From A Record-Breaking Season

Philip Seymour Hoffman (center) and Andrew Garfield (left) with Finn Wittrock and Linda Emond in the revival of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. The play received seven nominations in total.
Brigitte Lacombe New York Magazine

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 5:43 pm

Let's get this out of the way: The most anticipated show of the past two Broadway seasons — Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark -- finally opened, after multiple delays, cast injuries, the firing of its writer-director Julie Taymor and the longest preview period in Broadway history, on June 14th, 2011, a few days after last year's Tony Awards.

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Deceptive Cadence
12:03 am
Sat June 2, 2012

A (Very) Young Composer Gets His Chance At The New York Philharmonic

Very Young Composer Milo Poniewozik at the New York Philharmonic's School Day Concerts, where his piece was performed in front of more than 2,000 kids.
Michael DiVito New York Philharmonic

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 2:51 pm

What would it be like if you were 10 years old and composed a piece of music that was played by the New York Philharmonic? For a few New York City school kids, including one fifth-grader, it's a dream come true, thanks to the orchestra's Very Young Composers program.

Composer Jon Deak, who played bass with the New York Philharmonic for more than 40 years, says the idea for Very Young Composers came when he and conductor Marin Alsop visited an elementary school in Brooklyn several years ago.

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Theater
12:41 am
Fri April 27, 2012

Managing The Gershwins' Lucrative Musical Legacy

In Nice Work If You Can Get It, Matthew Broderick plays Jimmy Winter, a New York playboy of the Prohibition era. The show is at the Imperial Theatre.
Joan Marcus Boneau/Bryan-Brown

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 5:24 am

In the 1920s, it wasn't uncommon for the Gershwin Brothers — composer George and lyricist Ira — to have two shows running on Broadway at the same time. What's surprising is that this season, 75 years after George's death, it's happening again, with Porgy and Bess and Nice Work If You Can Get It.

It's no coincidence: Both shows were generated by the Gershwin estates, the nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews charged with looking after a legacy that's not only highly loved, but immensely lucrative — a multimillion-dollar-a-year responsibility.

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Theater
2:12 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

London Smash 'Two Guvnors' Comes To Broadway

Adapted from The Servant of Two Masters, the new comedy One Man, Two Guvnors follows the "always famished and easily confused" Francis Henshall (James Corden, left), who must combat his own befuddlement while keeping both of his employers — a local gangster and criminal-in-hiding Stanley Stubbers (Oliver Chris) — from meeting.
Tristram Kenton

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 3:54 pm

If you weren't a college theater major, you can be forgiven for not knowing much about commedia dell'arte, the 500-year-old theatrical tradition that Carlo Goldoni used for his comedy The Servant of Two Masters in 1743. Contemporary playwright Richard Bean has adapted that play into the decidedly British laugh riot One Man, Two Guvnors -- and he says all you really need to know about commedia is ... well, it's funny.

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