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.

Playbill, the program magazine given out at theaters, has been around for 136 years. It's not just a program, it's a cherished souvenir. "It has become kind of the best memento of your night out at the theater," says Alex Birsh, the company's vice president.

But with theaters on Broadway and across the country shut down since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, Playbill is just one of the many companies servicing the performing arts that has had to adapt.

The tombstone on Isaac Stern's grave reads simply "Isaac Stern, Fiddler," but the violinist was much more than that: He was an educator who mentored generations of musicians, including Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, and he was an activist who helped save Carnegie Hall from the wrecker's ball.

Here's a surprising statistic: According to a survey by Chorus America, one in six Americans, or 54 million people, sing in choral groups, whether that's community, school and children's choirs, religious groups or professional ensembles. But since stay-at-home orders have been issued across many states, choral music here and around the world has completely stopped.

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Tall and lanky, Nick Cordero played a variety of tough guys on Broadway – a 1920s gangster in Bullets Over Broadway, an abusive husband in Waitress, and a mobster who takes a young boy under his wing in the musical version of Chazz Palmantieri's A Bronx Tale. He died on Sunday at the age of 41, his wife, Amanda Kloots, announced on Instagram.

Broadway shows will remain closed until at least Jan. 3, 2021 according to an announcement from the Broadway League, an organization representing theater producers and owners, which said that ticket holders will be able to get refunds or exchanges for a future date.

As theaters across the world have closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, they've scrambled to find ways get work to the public.

Some have made archival video of productions available, some have created Zoom plays and some have returned to an old art form — radio drama — but with a digital twist.

In the 1930s, with many people out of work, families huddled around radio receivers to listen to audio plays, like Orson Welles' famous broadcast, War of the Worlds.

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Before everything shut down, there were already jitters. An usher tested positive for coronavirus, actors were no longer taking selfies at stage doors and on March 12, one hour before a matinee of Moulin Rouge: The Musical!, the company held an emergency meeting, says actor Danny Burstein.

"They said that somebody in our cast was currently at the doctor's suffering symptoms of COVID-19 and that they were canceling the show," he recalls.

When states and municipalities across the country began banning large gatherings, theaters — from regional stages to Broadway — shut down. But, in a creative solution to a difficult problem, some theaters made archival videos of the closed productions available online, for the cost of a ticket.

In March, the American Conservatory Theater, or A.C.T., in San Francisco had a new play on its main stage called Toni Stone. It was about a female ballplayer in the Negro Leagues.

Broadway shut down in March for what it thought would be a month, but with New York at the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and with guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and the New York governor Andrew Cuomo, theaters will now remain shut until at least June 7th. The announcement was made on Wednesday morning by the Broadway League, an organization of theater owners and producers.

Hippos can get hungry. Very hungry. So when zoos shut their doors to the public because of the coronavirus, zookeepers keep showing up to work to make sure everyone is fed.

Jenna Wingate feeds Fiona, the Cincinnati Zoo's 3-year-old, 1,300-pound hippo. Fiona was born premature, and Wingate has been looking after her since two hours after she was born.

A few days before theaters were shut down due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, 6,000 people filled Radio City Music Hall for Riverdance, the Irish dance spectacle. The production, newly polished for its 25th anniversary, had been criss-crossing the nation, but now engagements have been postponed for the foreseeable future. With parades canceled, and bars shut down in some cities, it will be a very different St. Patrick's Day this year.

To stem the spread of coronavirus, New York's major cultural institutions announced they would be suspending performances or closing their doors, beginning Thursday.

This August will mark 100 years since women won the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. To celebrate, the New York Philharmonic has commissioned compositions by 19 women for an initiative it calls Project 19, which had its first concert earlier this month.

There aren't many people who can say they started the decade at the Pro Bowl and ended it on Broadway — but Nnamdi Asomugha can. The four-time All-Pro NFL cornerback is making his Broadway debut in a revival of Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, A Soldier's Play.

It's been "a pretty surreal journey," Asomugha says.

It will come as no surprise to fans of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel that the designer behind the show's vibrant, period-perfect '50s and '60s outfits works in a studio that is completely awash in color — from thousands of fabric swatches to a full spectrum of coats. Donna Zakowska has won two Emmy Awards for her work on the hit Amazon TV series and on Tuesday night, she's up for an award from the Costume Designers Guild.

Legendary Broadway songwriter Jerry Herman has died. The author of the hit musicals Hello, Dolly!, Mame and La Cage aux Folles was 88.

Publicist Harlan Boll said Herman was taken to a Miami hospital Thursday night complaining of chest pain and later died of pulmonary complications.

The title of Jerry Herman's autobiography was Showtune, and if there ever was a Broadway composer who wrote good, old-fashioned, hummable show tunes, it was Jerry Herman.

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There are no gunshots in Ode. But it does begin with one dancer lying motionless on the floor, as a piano plays stark, detached chords.

The dancer gets up and is eventually joined by five other dancers, in flowing, circular motions. They dance together as an ensemble, but then one dancer falls and crumples to the floor. He's picked up by another dancer, but then two of them fall.

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One of the most anticipated Broadway plays of the season is a two-part, seven-hour epic, called The Inheritance, inspired by E.M. Forster's novel Howards End. The first sentence of E.M. Forster's novel is: "One may as well begin with Helen's letters to her sister."

I've owned cats my entire life. But it never occurred to me, until I went to the Big Apple Circus, that you could train them to do tricks. Like, really impressive tricks.

The latest edition of the Big Apple Circus features the usual assortment of acrobatics and death-defying acts. It also features The Savitsky Cats — a Ukrainian mother-and-daughter team and their nine talented fluffballs, who slalom through ladders, jump through hoops and scamper up a pole to a tiny platform before launching onto a pillow 20 feet below.

At the age of 94, director and author Peter Brook can genuinely be called a living legend. His career has stretched for over seven decades, from ground-breaking productions of Shakespeare to his nine-hour adaptation of the Sanskrit epic, the Mahabarata. His latest work is on stage now in Brooklyn. It's called Why? and it asks that question about the very profession Brook has spent his life exploring.

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As the 2019 U.S. Open tennis tournament ramps up in Queens, N.Y., this week, all eyes will be on the elite athletes competing. But it's hard to miss the anonymous people darting back and forth on the court.

Each match has six ballpersons: a pair at either end of the court and a pair at the net. They have to run after balls out of play, quickly and accurately roll them to the backcourt and give the players towels and balls to serve — all as unobtrusively as possible.

Broadway is coming off a record-breaking season, in terms of attendance and box office receipts. But this weekend and next weekend, five musicals, representing an investment of $95 million, will close.

Broadway attendance was up 14% between 2018 and 2019, generating $1.83 billion in ticket sales. But not everyone has been invited to the party, says Jeremy Gerard, who has covered Broadway as a reporter and critic for over three decades.

"It's been a great year for Broadway, and that's true if you're one of the producers of a blockbuster show on Broadway," he says.

The musical theater director and producer Hal Prince, winner of an unprecedented 21 Tony Awards, has died in Iceland after a brief illness. He was 91.

Prince worked on such major shows as Cabaret, Sweeney Todd and The Phantom of the Opera. But he was always looking forward to the next show, regardless of how the last one turned out.

In 1965, composer John Kander was working on a show that Prince produced called Flora, The Red Menace — and it was not going well.

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