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.

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3:49am

Thu June 21, 2012
Theater

50 Years Later, Still Free, Still Battling The Weather

Originally published on Thu June 21, 2012 6:21 am

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

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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2:03am

Sat June 2, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

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

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 4:51 pm

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

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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4:12pm

Wed April 18, 2012
Theater

London Smash 'Two Guvnors' Comes To Broadway

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 5:54 pm

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 β€” a local gangster and criminal-in-hiding Stanley Stubbers (Oliver Chris) β€” from meeting.
Tristram Kenton

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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12:01am

Thu March 1, 2012
Theater

'Carrie' Creators Resurrect A Legendary Flop

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 12:18 pm

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

Broadway history is littered with flop musicals β€” 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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3:33pm

Thu January 26, 2012
Theater

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

Originally published on Thu January 26, 2012 6:35 pm

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

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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6:32am

Sat December 24, 2011
Theater

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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4:49am

Tue December 6, 2011
Performing Arts

'Once' And Again: A Love Story Gets A Second Life

Originally published on Tue December 6, 2011 12:22 pm

In Once, based on the cult-favorite Irish indie movie, a guy (Steve Kazee) and a girl (Cristin Milioti) fall in love during a whirlwind week of songwriting in Dublin.
Joan Marcus

Once, the much-loved 2007 Irish indie, was kind of the little movie musical that could. Made on a shoestring budget in Dublin, it starred songwriters Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova as thinly veiled versions of themselves, and it was as much about the love of making music as it was about the budding but unfulfilled love between the two central characters.

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3:23pm

Mon November 28, 2011
Music News

A Carnegie Hall Debut, Inspired By Trout

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich took her inspiration for the piece from Franz Schubert's famous Trout Quintet.
Bill Keefrey

The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio β€” pianist Joseph Kalichstein, violinist Jamie Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson β€” will celebrate its 35th anniversary as one of the world's finest chamber-music ensembles this January. For the past 25 years, one of the group's frequent partners has been Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. She says it's always great fun to hand over a new piece.

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4:26pm

Fri November 11, 2011
Theater

Hugh Jackman, Back On Broadway And Having A Blast

Hugh Jackman
Joan Marcus

Hugh Jackman has had one of the most bifurcated showbiz careers imaginable. He leapt to superstardom as the mutton-chopped mutant Wolverine in the X-Men movies and won a Tony Award as the gay Australian entertainer Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz. These days, he's starring in the robot-boxing film Real Steel and appearing on Broadway in a one-man show.

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12:01am

Mon November 7, 2011
Arts & Life

At Arena Stage, A Million-Dollar Toast To Playwrights

The Book Club Play, revamped by author Karen ZacarΓ­as as part of her residency in the American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage, is a comedy about life, love and literature.The cast, from left, included Eric Messner, Kate Eastwood Norris, Tom Story, Ashlie Atkinson and Rachael Holmes.
Stan Barouh Arena Stage

A reporter once asked the late playwright Robert Anderson, author of I Never Sang for My Father, if he could make a living writing for the theater. His reply: "You can make a killing, but not a living."

True enough: For the playwright who hasn't had a hit on Broadway, making a living can be tough. But Arena Stage, a major theater in Washington, D.C., wants to change all that.

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3:00pm

Thu October 13, 2011
Theater

'The Mountaintop' Opens On Broadway

Thursday is opening night for Katori Hall's Olivier Award-winning play about Martin Luther King Jr. and his encounter with a chamber maid in Memphis the night before his assassination. Starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, The Mountaintop is probably the most anticipated play of the fall season.

4:20pm

Mon September 12, 2011
Theater

Broadway's 'Follies,' Sounding As Sumptuous As Ever

Dressy and juicy: Jan Maxwell plays socialite and former showgirl Phyllis Rogers Stone, one of four deeply unhappy characters at the show's center.
Joan Marcus

Make no mistake: With a cast of more than 40, Follies is a really big show. The legendary musical takes place on the stage of a Broadway theater, at a reunion of former showgirls, with a domestic drama unfolding in the present while the stage is literally filled with ghosts from the past.

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4:00am

Mon August 22, 2011
Theater

Record Could Revive 'Sweet Bye And Bye'

The 1946 musical "Sweet Bye and Bye" was an unmitigated disaster and never made it to Broadway. The show closed in Philadelphia and seemed to be lost forever β€” until the score was rediscovered in a New Jersey warehouse in 1986.

2:57am

Tue July 12, 2011
Theater

The RSC In NYC: 41 Actors, Five Plays, Six Weeks

A scene from the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of As You Like It in their specially constructed theater at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City.
Stephanie Berger

Right now, in New York City, one of the world's finest theater ensembles is putting on a repertory season of five Shakespeare plays. England's Royal Shakespeare Company – the RSC – has brought 41 actors, along with a replica of their main theater, and put it smack in the middle of the Park Avenue Armory.

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12:01am

Tue June 14, 2011
Theater

At Long Last, Curtain To Rise On 'Spider-Man'

Reeve Carney (left) as Peter Parker and Jennifer Damiano as Mary Jane Watson on the Spider-Man set at the Foxwoods Theatre. Carney previously starred in Taymor's film The Tempest; Damiano earned a Tony nomination in 2009 for her performance in Next to Normal.
Jacob Cohl

After months of previews, cast injuries, scathing reviews, innumerable jokes and the firing of its creator and director, the $75 million musical Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark officially opens Tuesday night on Broadway. The show β€” the most expensive in Broadway history β€” has been almost completely revamped.

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8:02pm

Sat June 11, 2011
Theater

Tony Predictions: Recapping A Banner Season

Sutton Foster (center) stars as Reno Sweeney, an evangelist turned nightclub singer, in this season's revival of Anything Goes.
Joan Marcus

Last year, I wrote that the most highly anticipated musical of the 2009-2010 season was Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Back then, the Julie Taymor/Bono/Edge show β€” which had a reported budget of $40 million β€” had been postponed for lack of funds. So as the season wrapped, it was still highly anticipated.

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6:11pm

Fri June 3, 2011
Music News

Violin Students Get Help Prepping For Carnegie Debut

Nathan Schram instructs students in the classroom.
Nan Melville Getty Images

Last October, Nathan Schram was giddy with anticipation. He was only a year out of Indiana University and he'd just joined a prestigious program, designed to help classical musicians like himself take on the challenges of building a 21st-century career.

He did it through The Academy, a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education

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3:21pm

Tue May 17, 2011
Theater

'The Normal Heart,' Still Pumping Love And Fury

Joe Mantello as Larry Kramer's alter-ego Ned Weeks and John Benjamin Hickey as Felix Turner in the revival of The Normal Heart on Broadway.
Joan Marcus

When it premiered in 1985, Larry Kramer's play, The Normal Heart, seemed ripped from the headlines. A thinly-veiled autobiographical work, it dealt with the early days of the AIDS crisis and elicited both admiration and controversy.

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4:55pm

Fri April 29, 2011
Music Interviews

Donnacha Dennehy: Crashing Through Cultures

Ireland has a strong tradition of folk music and poetry that's familiar to many Americans. But in the hands of Dublin-born composer Donnacha Dennehy, it's transformed into something completely different.

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12:01am

Mon April 25, 2011
Theater

For Ben Stiller, 'House Of Blue Leaves' Is Home

Police barriers have been put up by many Broadway stage doors recently to control crowds who want to catch a glimpse of some of the Hollywood stars who are appearing in shows: A-list names like Kiefer Sutherland, Daniel Radcliffe and Chris Rock, among them. Monday night, you can add three more names to that list: Ben Stiller, Edie Falco and Jennifer Jason Leigh are all opening in a revival of John Guare's play, The House of Blue Leaves.

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3:01pm

Fri March 25, 2011
Remembrances

For Lanford Wilson, The Plays Were Always Personal

Lanford Wilson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright whose work made waves both on and off-Broadway, passed away yesterday at age 73.

Wilson's work was always personal, whether he was writing about characters from his native Missouri or the prostitutes and junkies in the greasy spoon across the street from his New York apartment. In 1965, that coffee shop became the setting for his first major success.

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