HARD ON LOVE
BY SCOTT BARRY
I was visually surprised, pleasantly so, to see the background so interesting. Really a third character. I was never taken out of the moment because of the way the background suddenly either slid in or slid out or told you where you were in the scene.
... the change of characters' voices to let you know who was speaking was seamless. When we, the audience were supposed to feel cozy we did, when we were supposed to feel uncomfortable or feel familiar with something we did.
I was very impressed with the direction, so much so that I’ve begged Rob to please show me everything he has learned from that experience, as I’m a writer and MUST know.
Great job Jonathan.
This digital production kept me engaged the whole way through with actors who never missed a beat and editing that served the transitions of the script very well.
Jonathan Cerullo and Scott Barry have given us an innovative, professional, and all-around wonderful virtual presentation of HARD ON LOVE! As a professional Producer and Director, I marveled and admired the way the play was presented.
It moved at a fast and highly creative pace (which is difficult for many virtual presentations). I would love to see this eventually as a live performance,( when we do indeed go back to a semblance of normalcy!)
I would keep presenting this as a virtual play as I believe this can bring in some revenue to the theatre. Bravo Living Room Series for presenting this!
your direction drives for clarity and fantastic visual framing. You took an enormously intriguing writing structure and brought it front and center. You added strategic visuals in a manner that gave it the depth of metaphorical meaning and delivered performances that made their readings have meaning and character and likability.
And on and on,
WITH LOVE, NOW AND FOREVER!
"Dear Tom and the Company of Cats -
Congratulations on a spectacular fundraiser! A special thanks to Jonathan Cerullo and his team for pulling this all off with class and aplomb in such trying times. Onward!"
Brian Stokes Mitchell
The Actors Fund
Chairman of Board
"OMG. It was so damn good. I was delighted for you as it was a lovely and very personal piece of funny/moving/ really talented theatricality “trumped” by authentic expressions of friendship. The show had a human authenticity that is difficult to fake as unlike live theater, the audience always is looking in the eyes of the performer.
MEMORY contrasting film treatment coupled with the brutal/brilliant performances put me over the edge.
The opening zoom musical number had really smart edits and that crazy sense of individual/ensemble choreographic energy in that “no shit, I am so happy to be doing this” manner that your audience had to smile and feel safe."
"I’m crying. What a magnificent accomplishment. Brava!!!"
"What a touching tribute to so many talented people who have brought so much joy to the world and who are so devastated by this pandemic! A truly worthy cause! Thank you all for your kindness to those in need! I had to get more tissues during Memories! May your talents and spirits transcend these dark times!"
"Superb, I was left weeping after that beautiful cover of Memory. Superb!"
"Hey Jonathan, I watched last night. It was terrific. Congratulations. You did a fantastic job. The actress who sang Memory was terrific. Not the easiest song to sing ~ everyone was wonderful. Stay safe. Again – well done YOU! Merle
"What a triumph!!! Congratulations on a spectacular show and thrilling fundraiser. Proud to support this cause. Sending love to Jonathan Cerullo, the many talented participants in tonight’s benefit, and to the team at Broadway Cares, too."
"BRAVO!!!!!! Words escape me to continue. But here goes... That was breath-taking! you put fingers (and talent!) on the weak pulse of a lot of people whose outlook on life is a little tattered right now and got it beating with hope, sadness, and a whole range of other emotions. From "Jellicle Cats" joy to sights of barren b'way streets vacant and sad, to hope by watching a fellow needy human being getting a mask; you made us feel hopeful.
You must know Diane and I miss b'way, Sardis' and the beat you can only feel in the city. I really miss that and am saddened by its' absence. But tonight, you and the cast of the national touring company of "CATS" made us feel: "o.k., we're gonna get thru this thing; make this a better place and get those stage lights fired up again". And for that, we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. We commend you all."
Don and Diane
"I went to the link and was able to watch your beautiful “CATS” benefit. I was very touched and moved by your story which led into “Memory“. Just perfect. You did a beautiful thing organizing this wonderful and very important benefit. Bravo to you and all those involved. I was very moved and inspired."
"My gratitude to all of you for putting this stunning performance together. what an honor and great privilege to be watching this from my Covid safe apartment.... thank you... I so adore the song Memory. Always an emotional experience. Connecting the song to our current pandemic is brilliant, painfully so! Reminds me of the proverbial light at the end of this endless tunnel and I'm yearning to wake up to the start of a new day. Broadway will once again be the magical and wonderful place that always touched my heart and ignited my brain cells... I'm hoping that this brilliant pandemic-relevant version of Memory will be accessible to everyone... My heartfelt thanks to your amazing cast."
"Thank you to the entire cast and crew who made this happen. It was absolutely beautiful. You created a truly groundbreaking virtual event! It captured the mood of current events and made us dream about what we've all been missing so much these past 7 months. Your work "touched me" and moved my heart. Thank you for making this crazy project a reality!"
"I so loved the "Cats" special for COVID relief. You did an awesome job. Congrats to everyone involved. What a wonderfully selfless thing to do!!!"
"I was transported and filled with joy and tears and proud to be a member of the Biz that works so hard to help everyone in the Entertainment Industry... and to bring joy and "Memories" to all!! Thank you and all involved for bringing sunshine to a gloomy day!!"
"Jonathan thank you for sharing your theatre adventures on Facebook, especially Cats reunion. In all your work [as director] just know how much the ripple effects of your leadership permeates throughout the country. Thank you, thank you for your service and loving spirit to the theatre world. You rock!"
Regarding Legs Diamond Reunion Concert sent by text:
That was the BEST concert I have EVER seen at 54B!!!
Bravo, JC!!! To see those gorgeous people 29 years later all RIDICULOUSLY talented, sexy and passionate. It was a smash hit. Baby, there was not a slow spot or a cringe-worthy moment in that show. Beautiful. 100%. You should be so proud. Truly, There wasn't a single misstep or false moment. And Jim Fyfe was the perfect host. I've seen so many of these. You had two things in your pocket that made it super special. Everyone was still at the top of their game. So, f-ing talented. And sexy. And the love expressed for Peter and Julie was palpable. There were tears all around me.
The Boys from Syracuse - emailed
It was f---in brilliant. Playing in that style is really difficult as often it goes over the top. This was broad but very disciplined. They played the female roles without ever winking at the audience or phony singing - Impressive to have men singing the female roles with such command and quality. The up-tempo Sing for your Supper was great -- amazingly performed.
I am just so impressed at the detail of the endless bits you staged throughout and the props and one-liners--you must have really pushed this company into a mindset that allowed for that engine of the constant select embellishment. Very, very little of that was in the last revival done by Roundabout--it was a bore and even the brilliant score was sung without commitment.
Anywho, darling, while I have known you are talented, seeing your directorial and conceptual work showcased here gives me an even a higher regard for your skill, sense of humor and sense of staging. Very impressive. Thanks for a lovely evening.
February 23, 2018
I’m so happy that Jonathan wrote his gracious note, because now I have your emails! Thank you one and all for such a fantastic evening. It was so joyous, thrillingly performed, humorous and loving—you simply knocked me out, and the audience as well--and I’m very grateful for it all.
And to the Captain of Music, Deb, my heart and love. I know how difficult these things are to organize, and how much work (and in this case—research!) is involved. You’re the greatest and we should have sung your praises from the stage, but were too fermishedd. Or ferklempt. Or whatever the right word is! So thank you!!!!!
Love to you all, and happy spring! I hope to see you soon.
XXX Lynn (Ahrens)
Dear Flip Side Artists
To echo Jonathan and Lynn’s gracious notes (and yes, it seems I am always the caboose on email chains), you all did a spectacular job, full of precision and passion, and I am grateful and happy composer because of it. Thank you!
It was wild hearing that particular collection of songs, many of which I hadn’t heard in years (decades for some), come to such vibrant life. And you each made each song your own.
And yes, big big kudos to Deb A for her artistry, beautiful arrangement on OUR CHILDREN, attention to detail, and for making it all gel so beautifully. You truly are the best (and in so many categories.) Bravo to you and our top tier musicians for making such beautiful music.
Jonathan and Donna, thank you for putting together this wonderful evening. I hope it brought in a lot for AMAS and the Academy. I look forward to your upcoming projects - all of which sound exciting.
With gratitude and much love,
Dear Cast and Company,
Thank you, Jonathan, for leading the company so ably and with such artistry. It was a pleasure putting the show together with you and an honor to be given the opportunity to share the beautiful music created by Lynn and Stephen. Deborah, you worked so hard - the arrangements were so artfully done - you helped make the singers sound great and the band really rocked. Your rendition of "Our Children" was the culminating moment for the show that it needed to be and it brought tears to my eyes every time I heard it.
We could not have asked for a better or more talented cast. The comments from the audience after the show were unanimous in their praise and joy. Each and every performer brought his and her special touch to each song, starting from the very top and building one after the other right up to our finale.
I am amazed and humbled by the incredible talent on the stage on Monday and so grateful to everyone for your generosity in coming out and helping our little theatre company. You made Amas shine and we are the richer for having you in the family (and I don't mean just monetarily though the evening was a success on that front too thanks to each and every one of you!).
Thank you so much!
with love and admiration,
Amas Music Theatre
Hi Jonathan --
Many thanks for your message! It was a pleasure to meet and work with you, too! As I've mentioned to MJ, everyone I worked with was professional, hard-working, inspired, and good-natured -- all of the qualities that in my mind define a genuinely effective team which you led so well!
January 7, 2016
Program Curator for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival
Thanks for being so organized and easy to work with on this project. It was a real pleasure. I think it was a success.
January 7, 2016
Big Apple Circus Conductor
Thank you so much for being such an integral part of our Dance Intensive this weekend. Your engagement and willingness to share with candor and humor how your experience at your boot camp has shifted your career was truly inspiring and motivating.
We really appreciate the time and energy you put into preparing your presentation and for coming back to pass on your insight to the participants in your group. Your contribution really made the program unique and special, bringing conceptual theories alive!
June 19, 2013
Program Officer, NYFA Learning/NYFA Consults, Immigrant Artist Project
I second that very enthusiastically!!! Jonathan, you are amazing and inspiring,
June 19, 2013
Program Officer, NYFA Learning/NYFA Consults
“Jonathan Cerullo is an excellent citizen of the theatre. I hired him first as a professional dancer in my production of The Chocolate Soldier at Goodspeed Opera and happily watched his transition into a director and choreographer. As the Executive Vice President of SDC (Stage Directors & Choreographers Society), I know Jonathan to be a deeply committed and involved union member—supporting both SDC and its Foundation. Recently he served on the Off Broadway Negotiating and Board of Directors Nominating Committees. Also, he and I together created a video tribute to George Abbott. This piece was shown first at the most recent Mr. Abbott Awards and is to be used as an educational tool to expand the legacy of SDC’s founders. Jonathan was a strong contributor to this piece. For that and in general, I heartily recommend him.”
February 4, 2012
Executive Vice President, SDC: Stage Directors & Choreographers Society
“I've had the pleasure of meeting with Jonathan to discuss a couple of projects of my own including a musical that draws inspiration from the commedia dell'arte. Jonathan is informed, articulate and perceptive regarding all dimensions of theatrical performance. Intuitive and creative, he is adept at visualizing how best to transform abstract written concepts into delightful physical expression on stage yet respectful of the author's intent. I would feel fortunate if I would have the opportunity of working with him.”
February 2, 2012
“Mr. Jonathan Cerullo entrusted me with the part of Strindberg in a biographical adaptation based on August Strindberg, which Mr. Cerullo wrote and directed. As rehearsals progressed, it quickly became apparent that he possessed a skill, experience, knowledge, intuition and enthusiasm that has little competition. It was an absolute pleasure to work with him. It was also one of my theatrical career's highlights. Since then, we have worked on other projects, always with similar results. Mr. Cerullo is a one and only.”
February 1, 2012
Dramatic Broadway and Film Actor
“Jonathan was one of the featured performers in the CATS touring company when I was its Company Manager. He has since moved on into directing and choreographing and I am currently collaborating with him on an upcoming production, of which he is the co-playwright. He is devoted and very talented and an asset to the entertainment profession. I highly recommend him.”
February 1, 2012
Company Manager, CATS National Touring Company 1986-87
“Jonathan does his homework. He researches in detail before approaching the work and comes prepared. I recommend him highly. Great Results, Good Value, Creative.
February 1, 2012
Founder Big Apple Circus
“I cannot recommend Jonathan highly enough.
I found him to be patient, creative,
and fun to work with, encouraging,
knowledgeable, and talented.
It was a privilege to dance for him,
and I would leap at the chance to work with him again.”
2000 TONY Nominee
Best Featured Actress in a Musical
Girl in the Yellow Dress
November 29, 2006
From: John Carrafa
Re: Jonathan Cerullo
Remember the Equity Library Theater? One of the first jobs I had in New York was to choreograph an ELT production of GIGI, directed by Gerard Allesandrini and starring Bob Cuccioli as Gaston! Those were the days. But enough about good times. I’m writing because a young actor in that production, Jonathan Cerullo happened to also choreograph a musical number known at ELT as “The Pitch.” “The Pitch” you may remember, was a production number performed at intermission of every ELT show in which the entire cast sang and asked the audience to “pass the hat.” What I remember from that production was – “Damn! The choreography for “The Pitch” is better than the choreography for the show! I knew I’d be seeing more of Jonathan, because he had an innate sense of classic musical theatre choreography and a great way of working with actors. It seemed to me he had the goods. He’s a great guy and a terrific choreographer.
Congratulations on a great evening …Your expertise made the rhythm a success! … it was perfect.
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL
November 14, 2004
It is my pleasure to recommend Jonathan Cerullo.
I am an author/lyricist and director (member of The Dramatists Guild and SSDC), with credits on Broadway (ROMANCE/ROMANCE) and off Broadway (OLYMPUS ON MY MIND). My credits as an Emmy winning TV writer range from prime time TV (THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW) to PBS (GREAT PERFORMANCES). For several years, I co-owned a small firm that produced and toured small, original musical shows and produced industrials around the country.
I first met Jonathan Cerullo while working on a 50’s musical revue entitled HOW SWEET IT WAS, for which he was hired to assist the director. Because I seek out people who are bright, inventive, focused, prepared and able to work in a collaborative environment, I responded to Jonathan at once. I admired his sense of humor and implicit understanding of musical theater, plus how he encouraged the young performers - most of whom were appearing in their first Equity production. He clearly understood the style of the 50’s, and the director wisely relied on him to keep true to period.
I recommended Jonathan for a subsequent job, as choreographer on a children’s theater production of a country-western version of Aesop’s Fables entitled FABLE COUNTRY. The show utilized a Story Theater approach to the fables, and while the director’s work was far from seamless, Jonathan’s numbers were all highlights. He got the style, the sly country western humor, as well as the pathos, and greatly enhanced the final product.
For a million reasons – as happens in our business – our professional paths did not cross for some time. I got out of producing, busy with writing and directing various projects of my own and Jonathan moved on to other endeavors. The next time we saw each other, he was assisting Pat Birch on a musical at Circle in the Square.
It was not until a year ago, while doing a production of a new musical at the Fringe Festival, that we had the chance to work together again. Jonathan was hired to choreograph a new piece, which involved actors playing several roles in a very involved and purposely convoluted plot. I was delighted to see that my early instincts about Jonathan’s sense of story, staging, character and style had really blossomed. He took several numbers, using mostly non-dancers, and turned each one into a delightful divertissement that added immeasurably to the impact of the piece. His choreography and musical staging was clear, organic, intelligent, endlessly inventive, always character-oriented, true to period (Victorian) and a joy to watch. One particular number, which covered a large period of time with endless plot permutations, went from being what I had considered a minor throwaway to one of the standouts of the entire show.
All this was accomplished in the allotted rehearsal time of a week or so – meaning Jonathan had to be fully prepared, able to command an impressive cast and convey precisely what he intended to achieve, and yet not tax the performers with more than they could handle in so short a period. He handled the balance masterfully. He was also extremely helpful in seeing that characters remained true to period in their book scenes in terms of posture, deportment, handling of props and wearing of costumes. This last particularly impressed, because it reflected a great deal of research on his part and a desire to make the project work as a whole. In his passion, focus, and commitment, he often reminded me of another choreographer colleague – the late Chris Chadman.
I know that Jonathan has done numerous other projects outside of New York, including staging a full circus production, all to great acclaim I thought he was a talented man when I met him years ago; I think he is even more so now.
I believe many more in the industry would share my assessment if they became better acquainted with his talent. I recommend him highly, and without reservation.
I have known Jonathan Cerullo since he was about 16 years old. His devotion and commitment to the musical theater has only deepened and matured over the years and he is a terrific talent. I recently had the pleasure of working with him on a new musical project. He was called in to help us and from the moment he arrived in the rehearsal room, I felt relieved. He immediately set to establishing an improved working atmosphere and his enthusiasm and creativity were completely infectious. The cast of seasoned professionals rallied around him and we quickly began to get excellent work done. It was a joy to work with such a pro.
Conductor / Music Director / Composer
Radio City Music Hall
I am so happy to be able to assist such fabulous people in the industry like yourself and Deborah. You are the real heroes. You both are still out there entertaining, making people’s lives more enjoyable. I’m grateful that I am able to be a function in the process.
I have known Jonathan for many years, first as an assistant to Pat Birch when I was musical directing (and co-starring, but this is not about me) in Cy Coleman's "Exactly Like You" up at Goodspeed. Many times, either when Pat came across a roadblock, (rare) or simply was unavailable during a day's rehearsal, Jonathan took over both as choreographer and director, without a bump. He immediately earned my respect, and that of those around us and in the cast, with his quick thinking, intelligent problem solving, and wry humor. He is inventive, personable, and pro-active.
He has recently been directing several readings and off Broadway showcases, and is destined to become a star faster than anyone will realize - now is the time to snag him as your own!
Composer / Conductor
Montréal, Thursday November 11th, 2004
Object: Mr. Jonathan Stuart Cerullo
To Whom It May Concern:
I have co-conceived and directed four productions with the Big Apple Circus, as of 1999, working with various choreographers, namely Mr. Jonathan Stuart Cerullo, during our last production: Picturesque.
The creative process adopted by the Big Apple Circus is based on a theme inspiring and being developed in every given production. This method implies research on the various aspects of this theme, visual, musical and movement. The designers for set, costumes, lighting, the composer, and the choreographer are involved early in the development of the show submitting their specialties input in the content. This method demands team work involving creativity, flexibility, and quick-wittedness.
Then comes the rehearsals where, with all of our tools sharpened, we concretize our ideas. As we all know, we always confront those ideas with time, technical and budget limitations. Deadlines have to be met; problems have to be solved without compromising the artistic vision, which requires an energy consuming passion for the work.
Mister Cerullo’s work is one of a high professional level, exceeding my expectations in the process described above. His collaboration provided inspired choreography, delivered, with a commanding drive and a care for details, to a cast of acrobats with limited dance experience. He managed to improve by large the choreographic skills of our cast, making it an important part of the success of Picturesque.
Therefore, I would strongly recommend Mr. Cerullo. I am sure the profession will benefit from his remarkable artistic contribution.
With due respect,
MICHEL G. BARETTE
A joint production of
Orchestra, Inc.for PBS
The Boston Pops Orchestra
Keith Lockhart, Conductor
Funding is made
Evening at POPS
November 10, 2004
RE: Jonathan Stuart Cerullo
I enthusiastically endorse Jonathan Cerullo.
We worked together in 2003 with the Boston Pops Orchestra when Grandma the Clown was invited to perform with the Pops for one of our PBS television specials. I am both the Ex. Producer and TV director for these programs.
Jonathan accepted the challenge of creating a Can Can from Offenbach’s, Orpheus in the Underworld Overture, for Grandma the Clown of The Big Apple Circus and some professional Can Can dancers. This was done to live orchestral accompaniment at Symphony Hall, Boston. The choreography and staging was excellently prepared for both a live audience and for camera. Rehearsal time was limited.
Jonathan skillfully and creatively captured Grandma’s special character as she learned and finally danced the Can Can with the professionals. More than that, Jonathan shaped a story for Grandma who finds herself at Symphony Hall about to take center stage with this very large orchestra. Jonathan’s clear direction and speedy work made this project possible.
WILLIAM N. COSEL
Ex. Producer and Director
To Whom It May Concern,
I am more than happy to write a letter supporting Jonathan Cerullo.
Jonathan has worked with me as an assistant, as an associate (choreographing full numbers in shows we have done together), and even as a producer. I know his independent work as well. There are many good choreographers out there. There are, I feel, very few who really understand, and know how to stage and make dances that are really appropriate for the demands of storytelling in our musical theater world. Jonathan has that know-how and is always ready to put show off and ego driven work aside in order to serve the project. He also knows how to get a big hand when called for.
What more can I say?
Sent via Email (hence no signature)
November 4, 2005
It is my great pleasure to recommend to you Jonathan Stuart Cerullo. Jonathan choreographed two productions of the Big Apple Circus, in 2003 Carnevale and in 2004 Picturesque. Each production was unique and required imagination, creativity, and preparation. Jonathan took the challenge in both cases and brought his intensive research early in the process which allowed us to imagine the shows in far greater context than otherwise would have.
In the rehearsal process his prodigious energy was vital. He has a knack for creating vignettes through movement. He brings a demand for precision and a very supportive attitude to the performers with whom he works. He has my enthusiastic recommendation.
NEW YORK CITY
October 26, 2001
I have known Jonathan and worked with him for eight years during which time he has shown remarkable choreographic talent. His ability to teach and communicate with professional dancers is excellent and the work we did with a program called Singers On Stage was remarkable.
In addition, he has wonderful dance vocabulary learned over the years and readily available when he has been called upon to create new dance projects.
As someone who has been involved with numerous choreographers involved with Broadway shows I can clearly see that Jonathan should be given every opportunity to fulfill the talent he has shown thus far.
Very Truly Yours,