From Shakespeare's tragic hero Romeo to his arch villian Don John
to rebel French poet Arthur Rimbaud...
From British rockers Ian Ware (tv series Fame);
Tommy in Broadways' The Who's Tommy
to the German transexual rock diva Hedwig in Hedwig &
the Angry Inch..to the tormented Giorgio in Sondheim's
Passion...or his darkest role to date,Sweeney Todd.
He will be returning to the Great White Way again in Evita co-starring Ricky Martin and Elena Rogers
From perfoming alongside rock legends Pete Townshend and Bob Mould..
to writing, composing and fronting his own bands ..
Michael Cerveris, an impossibly versatile performer is leading what
he has described as a "schizophrenic career"
One might say...an amazing journey ..
Michael and his dog Gibson (Bruce
The journey began in Maryland.
Growing up in an artistic household, his father a university professor
of music and his mother a modern dancer -- music has always been
an integral part of Michael's life. He recalls, "My first memory
of growing up was listening to my father play piano." He and
his younger siblings were each required to learn one instrument.
At first, Michael was encouraged to try cello. His personal love
of rock & roll would ultimately win out and he began playing
guitar at age 10, taking formal lessons for a year and teaching
himself by ear during the rest of his childhood.
He was introduced very early to performing. "When the university
where my Dad taught needed a little kid for their productions I
was often the kid they used. The first time I was ever on stage
was about 2nd grade -- as one of the prince's little friends in
"The Caucasian Chalk Circle." So when you start out your
theatrical career with Brecht at the age of 7 or 8 you know you
are in for the long haul."
His father's university position necessitated
that the family move often, finally settling in Huntington,
West Virginia which he considers his home town. This made it difficult
to make friends. Spending his last two years of High School at Phillips
Exeter Academy, Michael says "I always felt I was on
the outside, a fringe member of every clique. It wasn't until I
got a small part in a play, 'The Comedy of Errors,' that I
found a place where I felt I knew at least as much as the people
around me. In the theater, I felt at home". Michael
also gained enough confidence to join his friends in persuading
school officials into creating "a rock band class". It
was there, in the 8th grade where he formed his very first band
named Ukiah. "Basically, just once or twice a week,
we would go into the music room with instruments that the school
bought for us and just make noise."
His music education continued throughout
college. Attending Yale University, he had the opportunity to study
voice with Blake Stern from the music school who had him singing
German lieder and Italian songs.
Upon graduation, he went to New York,
where he waited tables, dressed windows at F.A.O. Schwartz and played
extras in soap operas between auditions. He continued studying under
the tutorage of Calvin Remsburg. Michael says, "[he taught]
without trying to make me any particular style of singer. I learned
basic vocal production that you can take and apply to any style."
He then traveled across the country participating in repertory theatre
He performed lead roles in classics such as Romeo and Juliet
and A Midsummer Night's Dream as well as many cutting
edge contemporary plays like Sam Shepard's Tooth of Crime
and Total Eclipse by Christopher Hampton.
Michael & Madeline Potter in Abingdon Square)
In 1986, he was cast as British Rocker
Ian Ware in the acclaimed television series Fame.
Bringing great poignancy as well as a sense of humor to the role,
Michael was also able to display his singing, dancing and finely
tuned guitar skills in a variety of musical styles including ballads
(After Dark), classic (Rock
and Roll Will Stand) and punk rock (No Feelings),
vaudeville, country, jazz (Private Eye)
Never one to miss an opportunity, his time off camera was spent
sitting with the writers, directors and producers absorbing the
Ian's Girl: "After
Go Softly Into Morning: "Private Eye"
right: in Fame)
When the series ended the following
year, Michael continued appearing in guest roles on series such
as Quantum Leap, The Equalizer and 21 Jump
Street. His endearing portrayal of father-to-be, Bobby
Krull on the HBO series Dream On
perfectly showcased his natural comic ability. He also
went on to movies including the science fiction thriller Steel
and Lace and the comedy Rock and Roll High School
During this period, he never strayed
far from the theatre stage, which he still believes is the most
satisfying, purest acting experience. And in 1992, Michael originated
the role of Tommy in the World Premiere of Tommy
at the La Jolla Playhouse in California. Learning to ride a bronco
pinball machine and sommersault gracefully high above the stage
on wires was only the beginning. Michael conducted research into
Autism, listened to music and ultimately looked into himself, creating
a brilliant heartrending portrayal of the blind, deaf, dumb "pinball
Michael as Tommy)
His electrifying performance was embraced by audiences and critics
alike. Tommy author Pete Townshend was so impressed
he asked Michael to perform with him at special appearances during
his "Psychoderelict" tour. They were also often spotted
in unannounced performances around New York City. It was this role
that finally led to his debut on The Great White Way.
He earned a Tony Nomination for Best Featured Actor and
won the Theatre World Award. His first CD recording
also earned the show a Grammy for Best Original Cast album.
" Tommy" on
Tony Awards 1993 real
video mpeg(high bandwith only)
on CBS This Morning real
After triumphing nightly on Broadway,
Michael continued to return to his first love -- composing
and performing his own material. He asked fellow musicians Alice
Ripley, Shannon Ford and John Jinks to join him and together they
formed the alternative rock group lame.
Playing first for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, they
continued at a number of clubs, NYU and had a regular slot at Sin-E,
an Irish coffeehouse in New York. "The Band gives me as much
energy as it takes from me -- just to have another creative outlet."
on Break a Leg '93 real video
"Individual" Live @ Wetlands mp3
"Sleepwalking" '96 real audio
With breathless whispers building to achingly beautiful wails, Michael
created an intimate soundscape littered with unforgettable images
("eyes like the eyes when a baby wakes"/ Brynn )
and often biting prose ("where I go bridges burn/your open
wounds deserve salt"/ Individual).
Images in wildly upbeat songs were just as striking and appropriately
comical ("I want to write your name on my shoes"/Tenth
Grade), ("wish I had an ocean in my bathtub where I could
wash away my worries"/What I have). Dues were also
paid to some of their rock influences with covers of The Ramones'
"Sheena is a Punk Rocker" and "Frank Mills"
from Hair. Led by Michael's agility, passion & guitar prowess
lame engaged audiences in a rousing sometimes dizzying
release of emotion.
He took Tommy to Germany
for the European premiere for two years after that, continuing to
play outside the show at festivals and clubs in the Frankfurt area
with a German incarnation of lame. Like their American counterparts,
German fans were quickly won over by his artistry, energy and his
compassion which extended on and offstage. After 1,403 performances
as Tommy, when the curtain fell on the final performance in Offenbach,
upon Michael's initiative, the cast reunited one last time for a
special benefit open air concert with all proceeds going to "Tommy
Hall" - a therapeutic center for physically and mentally challenged
children. Inspired by Michael's work, many of his German fans formed
a "Tommy club" which continues to raise money for the
Hall and support German musicals.
live Tommy Benefit Concert Offenbach, 1996
mpeg (high bandwith only)
"Once a Child" lame
Live @MTW ''96 real audio real video
"Behind Blue Eyes" (written
by Pete Townshend)
live Germany real audio
video mpeg (high bandwith only)
At last, he returned to the Broadway
stage in the Original Cast of Titanic in 1997.
As ship designer Thomas Andrews, he provided the moral center of
the drama. His stunning performance of "Mr. Andrews' Vision"
every night allowed the audience to experience the anguish, fear
and despair of the doomed passengers. The
show went on to win 5 Tony Awards including Best Musical.
"Mr. Andrews' Vision"
video real audio
David Garrison, John Cunningham & Michael in Titanic)
Michael continued to work outside his
role in Titanic in various other theatre projects.
He performed a reading of The Wild Party for the
Manhattan Theater Club and joined cast members of The Scarlet
Pimpernel in a reading for a new rock version of Romeo
and Juliet orchestrated by Terrence Mann. He went on to
participate in a reading for new musical comedy called Joe! with fellow Titanic
cast member Brian d'Arcy James. On May 10th and 17th,
he narrated two benefit concerts of Chess
for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids.
On May 11, 1998, NY audiences once again were able to see
and hear him off Broadway when he rejoined original "lame"
band members in an exciting reunion performance at the Wetlands Preserve
completing 501 performances as the designer of the fateful ship,
Michael returned to his love of rock -- first for a limited four
week run taking over for writer and star John Cameron Mitchell as
lead in the smash Off Broadway musical Hedwig
and the Angry Inch and then performing in the most
celebrated rock venues around the world with alternative legend
Bob Mould on his final electric tour - the
Last Dog and Pony Show. The tour was captured live
on the CD, BobMouldBand:LiveDog98, available through www.granary-music.com.
Traveling throughout the US, Canada and UK on an exciting yet relentless
schedule did not slow him down. With characteristic stamina and
spirit, he followed the tour with a flurry of projects: spending
time in Glasgow and Germany -- attending a charity dinner for "Tommy
Hall", playing bass on a new CD (Blue Lava Style) for
rock group See Saw and looking into the long anticipated
possibility of releasing his own material. At the dawn of the new
year, he teamed up with longtime friend Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub)
and began initial recording of Michael's limited release album Hinterlands
with Bob Mould Band Live at Fillmore)
In 1999, Michael stepped back into the role (and heels)
which stirred audiences the previous summer - Hedwig.
Kicking off the New Year right with a highly charged concert at
Radio City, he stomped the stage, rattled the roof, sprinted up
the stairs into the upper Mezz of the famous Hall and even took
the time to show off a few new guitar licks.
Radio" live @ Wetlands
"The Origin of Love" Live
Live @ Wetlands, NY - mpeg (high bandwith only) real video
Michael, John Cameron Mitchell, Miriam Shor, Kevin Cahoon &
and below: Michael as Hedwig)
the role for eight months in New York, Michael took Hedwig
to other venues including Irving Plaza, Bowery Ballroom, the Wetlands
and then ultimately from East Coast to West -- opening in Hollywood.
The show, "a tour-de-force with the emotional impact
of a tornado" called on all of Michael's skills as an actor
and musical performer. The New York Times raved "Cerveris
is...capitvating, mesmerizing and enthralling". Variety
elaborated, "Michael Cerveris delivers a superb performance
in this polished, energetic mix of monologue, rock concert, German-style
cabaret and downtown performance art. ...Cerveris' physical and
vocal versatility is outstanding, and he delivers with equal authority
exuberant rock songs and softly ironic monologues."
Backstage West declared Michael a "musical theater national
treasure" and later presented him with the 1999 Garland Award
for his performance.
After leading Hedwig to a spectacular Hollywood
size opening - producers quickly began sending him movie and television
scripts. His first choice was a quirky action comedy - The
Mexican. He said, "It's a great script and a
nice, small, but memorable role." The movie also starring Julia
Roberts, James Gandolfini and Brad Pitt opened in 2001. Interview
Magazine listed Michael's performance among "the top 10 Annual
Two minutes or less Oscar Worthy Performances". At the same
time, Michael also coordinated the makers and producers in preparations
for bringing the überdiva Hedwig across the Atlantic
for the UK premiere in September of 2000.
During his time in Europe he recorded
two musical projects. The first was
a collaboration with Charlotte Hatherley, of rock group ASH. Michael
says , "It's all new and really cool." Then - after
several visits to lay the groundwork - Michael returned to studios
in Glasgow to record his long awaited first album of his own songs
under the band name Retriever.
This album, hinterlands, includes new versions of songs previously
only heard in concert as well as compositions he wrote during
the previous year. 2001 also marked the year that one of Michael's
songs, "Star" was picked up by radio. Retriever
gained a loyal following, playing in venues such as Mercury Lounge,
CBGB's and The Vanderbilt - opening for Joan Osborne.
In March of 2002, he co-starred on the FOX TV series, The
American Embassy. Creators of the show were so impressed
by Michael's songwriting, Retriever was cast as Michael's
character's band and plans were made to write episodes based on
his songs. Although FOX only showed four of the six episodes filmed
during the Mid-Season, it received many terrific reviews and inspired
viewers to start a campaign to the save the show.
Within the very week following the cancellation of the series, organizers
of the celebration of the works of Stephen Sondheim at Washington
DC's Kennedy Center offered Michael the lead role in Passion.
Judy Kuhn (Les Miserables, Chess) as Fosca and Rebecca Luker (Phantom,
Secret Garden) as Clara rounded out the "trio of glorious lead
actors"--Baltimore Sun. The show was immediately hailed
as the highlight of the entire Celebration and Michael was singled
out not only for his extraordinary performance but also for making
the notoriously difficult show heartbreakingly accessible.
The New York Times raved: "In Eric Schaeffer's splendidly
confident restaging of "Passion," Mr. Cerveris gives a
performance of such emotional transparency that it hurts. It's the
sort of performance that makes you ask where he's been all our lives...And
you start to regard the brooding "Passion" not as an anomaly
in the Sondheim canon but as its Rosetta stone."
Michael reprised his acclaimed role as Giorgio first in a Sondheim
Celebration Lincoln Center, NYC and later in a full concert of Passion
at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago with Patti Lupone and Audra MacDonald
taking over as Fosca and Clara.
In Spring of 2003, Michael gave a touching performance as the paraplegic
Vietnam Vet, Ken Tally in Lanford Wilson's critically praised Off-Broadway
drama The Fifth of July. Later in the year he did an about
turn in a hilarious portrayal of Francois - a smarmy yet sexy Frenchman
in the Charles Mee comedy Wintertime.
In 2004, Michael reached two career milestones- first the release
of his debut album, Dog Eared and in the Spring,
Michael was presented with the Tony Award. The
year also saw Michael appearing in not one but three
Michael's wide release debut album hit the stores in February. The
"beautifully crafted and original" CD quickly gained praise
and was featured on shows such as MTV's Real World. "Cerveris
turns pathos into pop redemption" (Amplifier) Time
Out described it as "the very model of the modern
Breakup Record, with its emphasis on acoustic guitars, uncertain
melodies and hushed, tremulous singing, Dog Eared
most recalls the work of the late Elliott Smith." You can find
out more about the CD and look for upcoming gigs at www.Cerveris.com
He flew to Chicago for a month to do another fabulous comic turn
as Count Carl Magnus in Gary Griffin's production of A Little
In March, Michael returned to the Broadway stage slipping into the
role of John Wilkes Booth in the long awaited production of Stephen
Sondheim and John Weidman musical Assassins.
From "dynamic", "swashbuckling" and "matinee
idol" to "coldly compelling" "violence seems
to drip from his teeth when he speaks"..."the pinnacle
of the pantheon in this Satanic vaudeville".... Since it's
opening, critics singled out Michael's hauntingly complex performance.
He was honored by the Outer Critics Circle and in June of 2004,
Michael received the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor
in a Musical. The show also went on to win 5 Tony Awards
including Best Revival of a Musical.
In September, Michael gave one of his finest performances at the
Chicago Ravinia Festival in the title role of Sunday
in the Park with George.
Michael wins 2004 Tony Award (Bruce
MIchael then returned to Broadway giving one of his most chilling
and brilliant performances as Sweeney Todd. John
Doyle's new innovative take on the show. Instead of having an orchestra
he had all the actors play instruments as they were performing.
Michael played guitar for certain scenes and his costar Patti LuPone
even played a little Trombone. The show was universally praised
by critics and audiences. The show was nominated for several awards
and Michael was nominated for Best Actor.
After Sweeney Tood, he starred in the new production, LoveMusik
as Kurt Weill.
Right after he gave a dignified and emotional performance as Posthumous
in Shakepeare's Cybelline at Lincoln Center.
of 2008, Michael just completed filming the new big screen fantasy/action
movie Cirque du Freake. He stars as Mr. Tiny. The
movie is being directed by Paul Weitz (of American Pie and About
a Boy). Lauren Schuler Donner (The X Men trilogy) is producing for
It also stars Salma Hayek as Madame Truska, John C. Reilly as Larten
Crepsley, Patrick Fugit as Evra Von and Josh Hutcherson as Steve.
is based on a popular series of young adult books by Darren Shan.
There are twelve books which are planned to be divided into a trilogy.
Michael will be returning to Broadway in March 2012 in Evita, co-starring Elena Rogers and Ricky Martin.
Michael's extensive career on the boards has made him the consummate
performer. Whether he is donning the masks of comedy and tragedy
or loosing his inner passion for rock and roll, the transformation
is seemingly effortless, the result breathtaking.
His commitment to his craft is complete.
His joy of performance is contagious.
And he reaches his audience on every emotional level,
touching their hearts and minds, flooding their souls with inspiration.
And the journey continues...
King Lear (2007) as Kent
The Apple Tree (City Center, NYC, 5/12-16/05) as Snake,
Balladeer and Narrator
Spring Awakening (Lincoln Center, NYC; 2/2/05) as the Stranger
Sunday in the Park with
George (Chicago Ravinia Festival) as George
The Booth Variations
(59E59 Theater, NYC, 8/5-12/04) video performance as John Wilkes
Theater, NJ & Second Stage Theater, NY) as Francois
A Little Night Music
(Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Chicago) as Count Carl Magnus
The Fifth of July (The Signature Theatre, NYC) as Ken Tally
Much Ado About Nothing (La Jolla Playhouse,
San Diego) as Don John
El Dorado (South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, California) as
Dogs (West Coast Ensemble, Hollywood, California)
Romeo and Juliet (Lowell Davis Festival Theatre, San Diego)
Measure for Measure (Old Globe, San Diego) as Claudio
Romeo and Juliet (Goodman Theater, Chicago) - as
Blood Sports (NY Theater Workshop)
Abingdon Square (American Place Theater. NY) - as Frank
Tooth of Crime (Hartford) - as Crow
Eastern Standard (Seattle Repertory Theater, Seattle) as
Richard II (Mark Taper Forum, LA) - as Duke of Aumerle
Midsummer Night's Dream (Dallas Theater Center, Dallas) - as
Romeo and Juliet - as Romeo
Total Eclipse (Westside Arts Theater, NY) - as Arthur Rimbaud
Life is a Dream (Ark Theater Company, NY ) as Astolfo
Green Fields (American Jewish Theater,NY) as
The Games (Brooklyn Academy of Music, NY) as the young man
Macbeth (Ark Theater Company, NY) as Malcolm
Nothing Sacred -(Northlight) as Bazarov
Moon (New York) as Marco
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Philadelphia Wilma Theater) as
more see Other Projects
Live @ Sin-E
the Beat Goes On: Music Rocked the Movies
Knitting Factory, NYC 10/22/04
10th Anniversary benefit
Theater, NYC 10/20/04
Live @ Rattlestick
Theater, NYC 10/16/04
Live @ Makor
for Change (benefit for Kerry)
Nova, NYC 10/11/04
13th Street Theater, 10/5/04
Lounge Tribute to David Bowie
NYC 10/1, 2, 8, 9/04
Hall, NYC, 9/27/04, performed "Finishing
Millennium Stage, Washington DC, 8/24/04
of Peace and Dissent
Playhouse, NYC 8/16/04
Theater, NYC 8/5-22/04 video performance
& compose music
Lounge Tribute to James Bond
8/6&7/04 performed "Live
and Let Die"
Lounge Tribute to Serge Gainsbourg
"The Ballad of Melody Nelson"
Live @Joe's Pub
6/27/04 performed "the Book
Lounge Tribute to Prince
NYC 5/30/04 performed "Get Off"
Live @ Tonic
Live @Edge Theatre
Theatre, Brooklyn 3/29/04
Lounge Tribute to James Bond
of Caveman in the Hedges
joins Benefit at Lambs Theater
Theater 11/3/03 performed "Pinball
Lounge Tribute to the Zombies
||FEZ, NYC 11/7 &
8/03 performed "Hung On to A
Zipper Theater June 2003
Zipper Theater, NYC 7/28/03 performing
his own songs
Zipper Theater, NYC 7/28/03
Lounge Tribute to Serge Gainsbourg
||FEZ, NYC 7/11, 12
& 14/03 performed "The Ballad
of Melody Nelson"
Lounge Tribute to XTC
|| FEZ, NYC 6/13/03
the Beat Goes On: June 2003
Bottom Line 6/03 performed "Anarchy
in the UK"
Star Irish Rock Revue
Lounge, NY 3/14/03 performed
"Peace, Love and Understanding"
joins Southpaw Seven
Brooklyn, NY 3/11/03 performing his
Loser's Lounge tribute to The BeeGees
|| FEZ, NYC 2/12 &
14/03 performed "World"
Lounge Tribute to Simon & Garfunkel,
NYC 12/11,13,14/02 performed "America"
Lounge Tribute to Elvis Costello,
|| FEZ, NYC 10/11,12,13
/02 performed "Everyday I Write
the Beat Goes On" Concert Series
|| The Bottom Line,
NYC 10/4/02 performed "Rock
and Roll High School"
Cerveris Live @Millennium Stage
Kennedy Center, Washington DC, 8/18/02
Bob Mould Band Live Forum, UK
Lounge Tribute to Brian Wilson
|| Westbeth Theatre,
NYC 1/24 &26/02 performed "God
| "And the Beat
Goes On" Concert Series
|| The Bottom Line,
NYC 7/14/01 performed "Who Loves
Lounge Tribute to Paul Williams
|| Westbeth Theater,
NYC 6/8 & 16/01 performed "You
and Me Against the World"
Me Or Leash Me: 50 Simple Ways to Keep Me a Happy,
Healthy and Well Behaved Companion".
has written a piece about his beloved dog Gibson
for the book. Now available from Black dog and Leventhal
the book includes a photo of Gibson taken by Charlotte
Hatherley along with many other photos by 'Petographer'
and words of wisdom for any dog owner looking to
make their happy pet even happier.
Some of the proceeds will go to benefit of animal
||El Rey Theater, CA
5/5/01 Tribute to Andy Warhol.
||El Rey Theater, CA,
3/4/00) Monthly celebration of glam
& glitter at the El Rey Theater. Fashion
Barks (Shubert Alley, NYC 7/26/99)
"LHistoire du Soldat" (Arizona
State University West, 5/7-9/99)
|as the Soldier
|CD: Blue Lava Style
|| Germany, 11/98 performed
bass with See Saw
| Hedwig & the Angry Inch
| The Last Dog and Pony Show World Tour - (9/10/98 - 11/6/98)
| Lame Reunion Concert (Wetlands Preserve, Manhattan/
| Chess Benefit Concerts (John Houseman Theatre, NY/5-10/17-98)
| Joe! (Lambs Theatre, NY/5-4-98) as Joe's Dad
| Romeo and Juliet
|| NY,4/98 Reading
as Tybalt & Prince
| The Wild Party
Manhattan Theatre Club, NY/4-98 as Burrs
| Tokyo Pop
- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Fringe as "the Observer", 2009 to present
The American Embassy as "Gary Forbush", 2002
Fame as "Ian Ware" Season 5, 1986-87
Law and Order Criminal Intent (2008) episode "Depths"
Popped In/Crashed Out (10/20/01) as himself
The show is part chat and part quiz show. Celebrities recline on sofas while Phil Alexander (editor of rock music magazine Kerrang!)
tests their knowledge of pop music and videos. Aired on ITV Friday October 20th after midnight.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (5/17/01) as "Syd Goggle"
Dream On "And Bobby Makes Three" (8/18/93) as "Bobby"
Quantum Leap "Glitter Rock" (4/10/91) as "Nick"
21 Jump Street "Back to School" (10/20/90) as "Ray"
The Equalizer "Race Traitors" (6/29/89) as "Nick Kaminsky"
The Equalizer "Last Call" (3/23/88) as "Frankie"
Leg Work "The Best Couple I know" (10/17/87) as "Johnny Dark"
The Tracey Ullman Show (5/17/87) "Vive La Difference" as "Vic"
Doubletake (TV movie drama/1985) as "Gary Prine"