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, has appeared regularly during the series and became one of the main characters to bring the story to its end.
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 a 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.Broadway and Off-Broadway
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 the 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. 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.Other venues
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.Regional
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
A partial list of filmsDetours (2016) - Bob O'Connor
Stake Land (2010)
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (2009)
Brief Interviews With Hideous Men (2009)
The Mexican (2001)
Lulu on the Bridge (1998)
Ian Ware on Fame
September/The Observer on Fringe
Marvin Frey on Treme
State's Attorney James Castro on The Good Wife
Ramses IV on The Tick (2016 TV series)
Lazlo Valentin/Professor Pyg on Gotham
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 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."
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).