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.

Christmas is coming, and soon TV screens everywhere will light up with that 1946 holiday classic, It's a Wonderful Life . But the same story is coming a little early to the stage of the Houston Grand Opera . That's right: An operatic version of George Bailey's struggle with life and death opens this Friday. Librettist Gene Scheer admits that adapting such a beloved movie has sometimes felt like a fool's errand. "It's almost secular scripture, this piece," he says. "Everyone knows all the...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

You might not know Marni Nixon's name, but you've probably heard her. The singer dubbed the voices for Deborah Kerr in The King and I, Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady — three of Hollywood's biggest movie musicals. Nixon died Sunday at 86 from complications from breast cancer. Nixon had a career that defied categorization. She performed on Broadway and in opera houses, hosted an Emmy Award-winning children's television show and was a well-regarded singing...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: The smash hit Broadway musical "Hamilton" mixes hip-hop with American history and features a multiracial cast. A lot's been written about the founding fathers in the show - Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson and Aaron Burr among them. But for reporter Jeff Lunden, "The One That Got Away," a song about the founding mothers, is the emotional heart of the show. JEFF LUNDEN, BYLINE: I'll admit it - since the ...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: We're going to spend the next few minutes reflecting on musical accomplishments. A bit later, we're going to talk about the revival of the hit musical "The Wiz." But first, a remembrance - conductor Kurt Masur died today of complications from Parkinson's disease. He was 88 years old. Masur led orchestras in Berlin, Leipzig and London. He's also known for reviving the New York Philharmonic. Jeff Lunden...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9uiWe5Ux24 Annaleigh Ashford is down to earth. Very down to earth. Sitting in her Broadway dressing room, she talks about all of the people who've inhabited that same space – Denzel Washington, Ian McKellen and, most recently, Larry David, who left a sticker with his name by the toilet. "Occasionally I like to remind myself, you know, the many fabulous people who have pooped where I am pooping," she says. "It's disgusting," she adds in a whisper. "But magical!"...

When the curtain rises on the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Verdi 's Otello tonight, opera fans will quickly notice what's not there. For the first time since the opera was first staged at the Met in 1891, a white singer performing the title role will not be wearing makeup to darken his complexion to play the Moor at the center of the tragedy. When Otello premiered at La Scala in Milan in 1887, the great Italian tenor Francesco Tamagno sang the role in blackface. Ever since the debut...

By now, you may have heard about the new Broadway musical Hamilton . When it opened off-Broadway in February, it earned almost unanimous raves and awards for blending history and hip-hop. Its sold-out run had A-list celebrities and politicians clamoring for tickets. Thursday night, the story of Alexander Hamilton, and the Founding Fathers and Mothers, opened on Broadway. Most people in the business expected Hamilton to move immediately from the Public Theater to Broadway, win a bunch of Tony...

Broadway is New York's biggest tourist attraction and brought in $1.3 billion in ticket sales last season. But it's also a high-stakes gamble for producers, since only 1 in 4 Broadway shows turns a profit. This month, two of the fall's most highly anticipated musicals, a revival of Side Show and The Last Ship , with songs by Sting, have thrown in the towel — closing, having lost almost their entire investments. Entertainment reporter and theater critic Jeremy Gerard of Deadline has been...

New York is saying goodbye to another historic building. Steinway Hall, the main showroom for Steinway & Sons pianos, will be moving to a new location, leaving its home of almost 90 years on 57th Street near Carnegie Hall. The first floor has been designated a landmark and will be preserved, while the rest of the building will be torn down to build high-rise luxury condominiums. Steinway Hall was, quite literally, the shop window for Steinway pianos in New York City. When it was built in 1925...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Peter Brook is truly the grand old man of world theater. He became famous with his productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the early 1960s; wrote the seminal theater text The Empty Space ; and started the International Centre for Theatre Research in Paris, where he developed such plays as the nine-hour adaptation of the Sanskrit epic, The Mahabharata . Now, at the age of 89, Brook has brought his company to Brooklyn with a new play all about the mysteries of the human brain. Brook may...

Sometimes good things come in small packages. Nonesuch Records, which started as a tiny independent budget classical label in 1964, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with three weeks of concerts at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The label became a force in the recording industry by pioneering electronic music and world music, launching the ragtime revival and becoming a place where contemporary classical composers had a home. Now an industry powerhouse, Nonesuch still operates like an...

A labor crisis threatening to shut down New York's Metropolitan Opera — the largest opera house in the world — appears to have been averted. Two of the major unions announced a tentative settlement this morning. While agreements with 10 additional unions need to be reached by Tuesday night, this represents a major turning point in a bitter dispute. The Met's labor problems have played out, for the most part, in the press, with acrimonious statements from both management and unions...

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...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHU82TvSB_o 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 — from playing tricky solos to shaping the sound of the string section. "Glenn Dicterow is the quintessential concertmaster, in my opinion," Alan Gilbert, music director of the New York Philharmonic, says. "The concertmaster...

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 . Almost anywhere you go these days, you can find little girls singing songs...

Even before he finished his eight-film run as Harry Potter, actor Daniel Radcliffe spent a considerable time devoted to the stage, both in London and New York. He appeared on Broadway in Equus and spent a year playing J. Pierrepont Finch, the lead role in the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. On Sunday night, the 24-year-old actor opens at Broadway's Cort Theatre in a production of Martin McDonagh's dark Irish comedy, The Cripple of Inishmaan . When Daniel Radcliffe...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-qEZ9zeIJw From the early 1920s to 1940, the Cotton Club was the showplace for African-American performers in New York. Now the Harlem landmark and the artists who made it great — Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Bessie Smith and the Nicholas Brothers are just a few of them — are being celebrated in a Broadway revue called After Midnight . New York University history professor David Levering Lewis, author of When Harlem Was In Vogue , thinks the show...

Mukhtar Mai is from a small tribal village in Pakistan. In 2002, her brother was accused of sexually molesting a woman from a wealthy land-owning clan. What happened next was horrifying, says singer and composer Kamala Sankaram. "For retribution, the village council decided that Mukhtar should be gang-raped by four of the men of this clan," Sankaram says. "And what is supposed to happen for a woman after this has taken place is that, not only has she shamed herself, she's brought dishonor to...

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. " Spider-Man will be legendary because of the...

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. Great pianists need great pianos. Vladimir Horowitz , the famous Russian pianist, used to travel with his own personal Steinway when he...

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 — his Young People's Concerts introduced generations of children to classical music. But that was the public man. A new collection of letters written both by and to Bernstein is being published this week. It's an eye-opening volume: a glimpse into...

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. In a tersely worded statement, the New York City Opera's...

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 . When the audience enters the Booth Theater, they see a simple, but striking vision. Onstage, there's the scantest suggestion of a cramped apartment: no walls, just a sofa, dining...

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. "The issue is this: We don't have any credit, we don't have any working capital, and so we are managing our...

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?' " The play the two eventually chose to adapt...

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!" There are youth...

Part of what makes a Broadway show a Broadway show — read "splashy," especially if we're talking musicals — 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. Two and a half hours before the actors and acrobats of the Broadway revival of Pippin take the stage, the costume department is already busy at work deep in the...

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. Last year, McDonald returned to New York, starred in Porgy and Bess and won a fifth Tony Award. All the ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies are reflected on her...

Pages