Actor Michael Cerveris

Michael Cerveris (born November 6, 1960) is an American actor, singer, and guitarist. He has performed in many stage musicals and plays, including several Stephen Sondheim musicals: Assassins, Sweeney Todd, Road Show, and Passion. In 2004, Cerveris won the Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Assassins as John Wilkes Booth. In 2015, he won his second Tony Award as Best Actor in a Musical for Fun Home as Bruce Bechdel.

He was called, by, “arguably the most versatile leading man on Broadway”, playing roles from “Shakespeare’s Romeo to The Who’s Tommy, from the German transsexual rock diva Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch to the homicidal title character of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.”

Cerveris’ most visible television role to date has been as the Observer code-named September in the FOX science fiction television series Fringe. His character, a mysterious man seen attending many unusual events, appeared regularly during the series and became one of the main characters to bring the story to its end.

Early life

Cerveris was born in Bethesda, Maryland and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. His mother, Marsha (née Laycock), was a dancer, and his father, Michael Cerveris, was an Italian American professor of music; the two met while students at the Juilliard School. He is a 1979 graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and a 1983 cum laude graduate of Yale University, where he was a member of Skull and Bones. He majored in theater studies, and also studied voice.



Cerveris had roles in several Off-Broadway productions, starting with Macbeth in 1983 as Malcolm and including Total Eclipse in 1985 as Rimbaud at the Westside Theatre, Abingdon Square in 1987 as Frank at the Women’s Project, and Blood Sports in 1987 as Nick at the New York Theatre Workshop.

He made his Broadway debut in The Who’s Tommy in 1993 as “18-20 year old Tommy/Narrator”, receiving a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Drama League Award nomination, Theater World Award winner, and Original Cast Grammy winner. He had appeared in Tommy in the La Jolla Playhouse prior to Broadway. He next appeared in the Broadway musical Titanic in 1997 as Thomas Andrews. He played the role of John Wilkes Booth in the Broadway musical Assassins in 2004, and won the Tony Award, Best Featured Actor in a Musical and the Outer Critics Circle Award.

In the 2005 Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Cerveris played the title role, and was nominated for the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama League Award, and received a Drama Critics Circle citation. In this John Doyle production, the actors also played instruments, with Cerveris playing lyric guitar. In the Broadway musical LoveMusik (2007) he appeared as Kurt Weill, and received Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, and Drama League Award nominations. In 2007 he played Kent in King Lear at the Off-Broadway Public Theater, receiving a Drama League Award nomination. Cerveris played Posthumus Leonatus in the Broadway revival of Cymbeline from December 2, 2007 to January 6, 2008. He appeared Off-Broadway in the Stephen Sondheim-John Weidman musical Road Show at the Public Theater in 2008 as Wilson Mizner. Cerveris appeared opposite Mary-Louise Parker in the limited Roundabout Theatre Company production of Hedda Gabler from January 2009 to March 2009. He next played Dr. Givings in the Broadway comedy by Sarah Ruhl, In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), starting in October 2009. From March 2012 to January 2013, Cerveris played Perón in the Broadway revival of Evita. Then, from 2015 to 2016, he played the role of Bruce Bechdel in the Broadway musical Fun Home winning the 2015 Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical.

In 2000 Cerveris played the lead role of Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch in the West End. He had previously played the role Off-Broadway from July 8, 1998 to August 4, 1998 and again from February 1999. He was a Garland Award winner, and Ovation Award nominee. During 2002, the Kennedy Center presented a “Sondheim Celebration”; Cerveris appeared in Passion as Giorgio. Cerveris has appeared several times at the Ravinia Festival Concerts (Chicago), including: Passion (2003), Sunday In The Park With George (2004), and Anyone Can Whistle in 2005. He performed in the New York City Center Encores! staged concert of The Apple Tree in 2005, with Kristin Chenoweth.

  • Crow in The Tooth of Crime, Hartford Stage (1985–86)
  • Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, opposite Phoebe Cates at the Goodman Theatre (1988)
  • Bazarov in Nothing Sacred, Northlight Theatre, Illinois (1988)
  • Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dallas Theater Center
  • Eastern Standard with Tom Hulce, Seattle Repertory Theatre (1988)
  • Richard II, Mark Taper Forum (1991–1992)
  • Measure for Measure, Old Globe Theatre
  • El Dorado, South Coast Repertory (1991)
  • A Little Night Music, as Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm, Chicago Shakespeare Theater (December 23, 2003 – January 21, 2004) (Jefferson award nomination)
  • Film and television

    Cerveris has appeared in films such as Lulu on the Bridge (1998), The Mexican (2001), Brief Interviews With Hideous Men (2009), Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (2009), Stake Land (2010), Detours (2016), and Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018). His television roles include Ian Ware on Fame, Marvin Frey on Treme, State’s Attorney James Castro on The Good Wife, Ramses IV on The Tick, Lazlo Valentin/Professor Pyg on Gotham, and September/The Observer on Fringe. Cerveris also appeared as The Observer at several real-life events covered by FOX as part of a viral marketing campaign for the series. These include appearing in the audience at a taping of American Idol, being shown in the stands at various football and NASCAR events, and a cameo in a commercial for Glee. Cerveris appeared as Ted Gunn, head of the Behavioral Science Unit in the second season of Mindhunter.

    Music career

    Cerveris played guitar as a member of Bob Mould’s touring band supporting the album The Last Dog And Pony Show. A performance at The Forum in London was recorded and released as BobMouldBand: LiveDog98 (Granary Music 2002). His debut solo album, Dog Eared (Low Heat Records 2004), was co-produced with Adam Lasus and includes guest appearances from Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney), Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, R.E.M.), Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Kevin March (Guided by Voices), Anders Parker (Varnaline), and Laura Cantrell. In 2011, Cerveris founded the Americana-Country band Loose Cattle with longtime collaborator Kimberly Kaye. Cerveris and Kaye share vocals in the style of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. Known for tongue-in-cheek mashups, country covers, and Cerveris’ original songs, the group has gone on to appear at Lincoln Center, Joe’s Pub, NPR’s Mountain Stage, 54 Below, Chickie Wah Wah’s, Siberia, Kajun’s Pub, The Blue Note Cafe, Louisiana Music Factory, Rock’n’bowl, Rockwoof Music Hall, Webster Hall, and many others.

    He has also contributed vocals to “My Other Phone Is a Boom Car” as part of a ringtone project by They Might Be Giants for Wired Magazine in March 2007. In They Might Be Giants’ 2011 release, Join Us, Cerveris also provided vocals for the track, “Three Might Be Duende.”

    Other activities

    Cerveris has performed at many events, to honor or celebrate notable performers and creatives. He performed at The Drama League gala, A Musical Celebration of Broadway on February 7, 2011, which also honored Patti LuPone. In November 2010 he appeared at the Sonnet Repertory Theatre benefit, which honored director Jack O’Brien. On April 27, 2009, he performed at the Signature Theatre gala, a benefit and to celebrate the first annual Sondheim Award.

    On December 8, 2010, he took part in the Symphony Space “Selected Shorts and Thalia Book Club” series of readings.

    His concert appearances include the Broadway Cabaret Festival, held in October 2010 at The Town Hall (New York).


    Stage roles

    Year Title Role Notes
    1993 The Who’s Tommy Tommy / Narrator
    1997 Titanic: A New Musical Thomas Andrews
    2004 Assassins John Wilkes Booth
    2005 Sweeney Todd Sweeney Todd
    2007 Lovemusik Kurt Weill
    Cymbeline Posthumus
    2009 Hedda Gabler Jorgen Tesman
    In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) Dr. Givings
    2012 Evita General Juan Domingo Perón
    2015 Fun Home Bruce Bechdel
    Year Title Role Note
    2000 Hedwig and the Angry Inch Hedwig Reprisal
    Year Title Role Note
    1983 Macbeth Malcolm
    1984 Life is a Dream Astolfo
    The Games Young Man
    1985 Green Fields Levi-Yitshok
    Total Eclipse Rimbaud
    1986 Blood Sports Nick
    Abingdon Square Frank
    1988 Eastern Standard Peter Kidde
    1998 Hedwig and the Angry Inch Hedwig
    2003 Fifth of July Kenneth Talley
    2005 The Apple Tree Snake Encores! staged concert
    2007 King Lear Kent
    2008 Road Show Wilson Mizner
    2013 Nikolai and the Others George Balanchine
    Fun Home Bruce Bechdel


    Year Title Role Notes
    1988 Tokyo Pop Mike
    1990 Strangers John Reece
    1991 Steel and Lace Daniel Emerson
    Rock ‘n’ Roll High School Forever Eaglebauer
    1992 A Woman, Her Men, and Her Futon Paul
    1998 Lulu on the Bridge Restaurant Man #3
    2001 The Mexican Frank
    Lunchtime Thomas Thomas Short film
    2004 Temptation Pablo
    2009 Brief Interviews with Hideous Men Subject #15
    Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant Mr. Tiny
    2010 Meskada Terrence Lindy
    Stake Land Jebedia Loven
    2011 Nine Lives: A Musical Adaptation Live John / Joann Guidos
    2014 Russian Broadway Shut Down Vladimir Putin Short film
    Leaving Circadia Reece
    2016 Detours Bob O’Connor
    2018 Ant-Man and the Wasp Elihas Starr
    Year Title Role Notes
    1985 Doubletake Gary Prine Miniseries
    1986–1987 Fame Ian Ware Main cast (season 6); 24 episodes
    1987 The Tracey Ullman Show Episode #1.7
    Leg Work Johnny Dark Episode: “The Best Couple I Know”
    1988 The Equalizer Frank Fipps Episode: “Last Call”
    1989 Nick Kaminsky Episode: “Race Traitors”
    1990 Gabriel’s Fire Culp Episode: “To Catch a Con: Part 2”
    21 Jump Street Ray Episode: “Back to School”
    1991 Quantum Leap Nick Episode: “Glitter Rock – April 12, 1974”
    1993 Dream On Bobby Krull Episode: “And Bobby Makes Three”
    2001 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Syd Booth Goggle Episode: “Strip Strangler”
    2002 The American Embassy Gary Forbush Main cast; 6 episodes
    2004 Dr. Vegas Nick Crowley Episode: “Lust for Life”
    2005 Live from Lincoln Center Giorgio Episode: “American Songbook – Passion”
    2007 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Greg Stipe Episode: “Depths”
    2008–2013 Fringe The Observer / September / Gemini Recurring; 40 episodes
    2011 Person of Interest Jarek Koska Episode: “Judgement”
    2011–2013 Treme Marvin Frey Recurring (season 2–4); 10 episodes
    2014 The Knick Dr. William Halsted Episode: “Get the Rope”
    2014–2015 The Good Wife James Castro Recurring; 10 episodes
    2016–2019 Madam Secretary Congressman Jeff Pearson 2 episodes
    2017 The Tick Ramses IV Recurring; 5 episodes
    Gotham Lazlo Valentin / Professor Pyg 5 episodes
    2018 Mosaic Tom Davis Interactive series; 6 episodes
    Elementary Councilman Ledesma Episode: “How to Get a Head”
    2019 Mindhunter Ted Gunn Main cast (Season 2)
    Prodigal Son Carter Burkehead Episode: “Pilot”
    The Blacklist Victor Skovic 3 episodes
    2020 Evil Devil Therapist (voice) 2 episodes; uncredited
    The Plot Against America Mr. Taylor Episode: “Part 3”
    TBA The Gilded Age Watson


  • BobMouldBand: LiveDog98 (2002)
  • Dog Eared (2004)
  • Piety (2016)
  • Awards and nominations

    Year Award Chh Nominated Work Result
    1993 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical The Who’s Tommy Nominated
    Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated
    Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Nominated
    Theatre World Award Won
    2004 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Assassins Won
    Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Won
    2006 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Nominated
    Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Nominated
    Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated
    Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Nominated
    2007 Drama League Award Distinguished Performance King Lear Nominated
    Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical LoveMusik Nominated
    Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Nominated
    Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated
    Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Nominated
    2012 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Evita Nominated
    Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Nominated
    2014 Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Fun Home Won
    2015 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Won

    External Links

    Actor Michael Cerveris – Wikipedia

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