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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.

In the world of ballet, The Nutcracker is sort of a gateway drug. Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon danced his first Nutcracker when he was 11, with London's Royal Ballet. After he moved to the U.S., he danced the Balanchine production with the New York City Ballet. Wheeldon is the choreographer behind a brand new Nutcracker created for the Joffrey Ballet. Expectations are high for this $4 million production, which premieres Saturday. It replaces the version that founder Robert Joffrey...

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/. ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: Long before there was "Transparent" or "Modern Family," there was "Falsettos," a frank, funny musical about a Jewish New Yorker who leaves his wife and son for a man. This causes big reverberations in his family. The show, parts of which are 35 years old, is getting a revival on Broadway. Jeff Lunden has this report on how well it's held up, but first a note - you'll hear slang from the '80s which some consider...

There are few living theater directors who can convince audiences to stay up all night watching the staging of a Sanskrit poem. But 30 years ago, director Peter Brook did just that. He put on what came to be known as one of the great theater events of the 20th century: The Mahabharata . It was nine hours long, and it was epic . Now, inspired by the civil war in Syria, the 91-year-old director has decided to re-explore a part of that poem — but this time he's thinking small. Brook's new play,...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: The best way to enjoy this next story is if you listen through headphones. It's about "The Encounter," a new Broadway show. It uses three-dimensional sound effects to take the audience deep into the Amazon. Jeff Lunden reports. JEFF LUNDEN, BYLINE: Every audience member at "The Encounter" gets a pair of headphones. SIMON MCBURNEY: OK, I'm just going to test your headphones, just check them. And Helen's going to...

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

Edward Albee, the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? among many others, died Friday at the age of 88 following a short illness, according to his longtime personal assistant. Albee didn't particularly like it when people asked him what his plays were "about." As he wrote in a 2007 letter to the audience of Me, Myself and I, that question made him "become uncooperative — and occasionally downright hostile." Albee acknowledged that his plays could be ...

In September 1993 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn. It was an iconic moment — two mortal enemies had come to terms on a historic peace agreement. That agreement was forged during months of secret back-channel talks in Norway. A new off-Broadway play, OSLO , looks at this little-known part of the peace process. The most important piece of scenery in OSLO is a door: On one side, the negotiations...

Avant garde theater director Rachel Chavkin's career is exploding. Sitting in one of her shows might mean sitting in silence or knocking back shots of vodka, while an actor sings from War and Peace right next to you. Chavkin has two shows running off-Broadway now and a show opening on Broadway this fall. Songwriter and playwright Dave Malloy has worked with Chavkin on many projects — including the musical that's coming to Broadway; Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. It's based on a 70...

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

One of the first people you meet when you walk through the door of the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City is Elizabeth Reed. She's part of a battalion of part-time workers who meet, greet and seat audience members at Broadway's 40 theaters. "What we really try and do is enhance the patron's experience, from the moment that they walk in the door, to the end of that performance," Reed says. Winners for the 70th Annual Tony Awards — Broadway's highest honor — will be announced Sunday night....

Playwright Dominique Morisseau is kind of the unofficial poet laureate of Detroit. She has written three plays about her hometown and her latest, Skeleton Crew , looks at four African-American automobile workers struggling with the economic downturn in 2008. The play is currently running off-Broadway, where it's gotten rave reviews. Skeleton Crew takes place in a drab break room in a stamping plant — that's where workers manufacture parts for the big three automakers. The factory has laid off...

April 23 is a big day in England: It's St. George's Day, a national holiday named for the country's patron saint, and it's also the day William Shakespeare is said to have been born and died. This April 23 marks the 400th anniversary of his death. According to the Royal Shakespeare Company's artistic director, Gregory Doran, the only account of Shakespeare's death was written 40 years after it happened, by the vicar of the church where he's buried. "[The vicar wrote] that Shakespeare and his...

You often don't think of opera at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem. Tonight that changes: Charlie Parker's Yardbird gets its New York premiere there. It's an opera about the jazz saxophonist on the very stage where Parker played in his lifetime. The opera's Swiss-born composer Daniel Schnyder is a jazz saxophone player himself, who is also classically trained. He wants to combine his two favorite kinds of music. "These two things are far apart from each other," Schnyder says, "and a lot of...

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