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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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

Academy Award-winning actress Celeste Holm was best known for roles in Gentleman's Agreement, All About Eve and Oklahoma!
AP

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

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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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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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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Theater
1:27 am
Thu April 5, 2012

A Fruitful Collaboration Still Yielding Broadway Hits

A crowd-pleasing revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar has transferred from Canada's Stratford Festival to Broadway.
Joan Marcus

Since they made their debut in 1971, it's been rare for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice to not have a show on Broadway. But now they're ramping it up, with the opening of Evita following fast on the heels of Jesus Christ Superstar.

"It's actually just a coincidence as far as I can tell, because the two shows came from totally different sources," Rice says. "And by sheer chance, they've arrived within two or three weeks of each other on Broadway, which is fun!"

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Theater
11:59 am
Fri March 30, 2012

A Mud-Slinging Political Drama Returns To Broadway

William Russell (John Larroquette, right), a blue-blooded, Harvard-educated former secretary of state, matches wits with rival presidential candidate Joe Cantwell (Eric McCormack), a scrappy conservative senator in the Broadway revival of The Best Man.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 8:33 pm

It's July 1960 in Philadelphia and a political party has gathered to nominate a presidential candidate — but both leading contenders are flawed, and the convention is deadlocked. Who's the best man for the job?

Gore Vidal's 1960 play The Best Man, which is getting a Broadway revival, will strike audiences as surprisingly timely.

One candidate is an intellectual liberal, the other a populist conservative. Director Michael Wilson says Vidal, the outspokenly liberal author of the play, wrote it with a very specific agenda in mind.

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Theater
10:01 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

'Carrie' Creators Resurrect A Legendary Flop

Molly Ranson plays the title role in the off-Broadway reworking of Carrie, directed by Stafford Arima and written by Lawrence D. Cohen, with lyrics by Dean Pitchford and music by Michael Gore.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 10:18 am

Broadway history is littered with flop musicals — but if some shows are bombs, then Carrie, based on Stephen King's best-selling 1974 novel, was kind of a nuclear bomb.

The story of a teenager with telekinetic powers who wreaks bloody havoc on her small Maine town had already been successfully adapted as a film starring Sissy Spacek in 1976. But as a musical?

Frank Rich was theater critic for The New York Times when the show opened in April 1988. He called it a musical wreck that "expires with fireworks like the Hindenburg."

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Theater
1:33 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

In Broadway's 'Wit,' A Documentary Of Our Demise

In a revival of Wit on Broadway, Cynthia Nixon plays Vivan Bearing, a brilliant John Donne scholar forced to consider her own mortality when she's diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Manhattan Theatre Club

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 4:35 pm

In her dressing room at the Friedman Theatre, Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon has a nightly ritual: She rubs Nivea cream all over her scalp to soothe the razor burns.

Being completely bald is just one of the many demands of the character she plays in Wit -- a brilliant college professor named Vivian Bearing, who's battling ovarian cancer.

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Performing Arts
6:00 am
Sat December 31, 2011

'The Enchanted Island' A Mashup Of Classic Masters

Originally published on Sat December 31, 2011 8:05 am

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

Tonight, New York's Metropolitan Opera will premiere a new piece with music that's hundreds of years old. It's called "The Enchanted Island" and it features arias by several Baroque composers, including Handel and Vivaldi, and mashes up the plots from two Shakespeare plays. And, oh yes, it stars Placido Domingo as the sea god Neptune. Jeff Lunden has still more.

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Theater
4:32 am
Sat December 24, 2011

A Homecoming For Rachel Griffiths On Broadway

In the Broadway play Other Desert Cities, Brooke (played by Rachel Griffiths) forces her family to confront the truth behind her brother's suicide.
Joan Marcus Lincoln Center Publicity

Australian actress Rachel Griffiths, best known in the U.S. for her work on HBO's Six Feet Under and ABC's Brothers and Sisters, has made an acclaimed Broadway debut in the new play Other Desert Cities.

Griffiths, who is well-known in Australia for her stage work, tells NPR's Scott Simon she would have been happy if all she had ever done was act onstage.

"Theater was where I began and what I really thought my career would be in Australia," she says. "That was my thing. ... The movies were an unexpected joy, and television even more unexpected."

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