Jonathan Kruk, Master Storyteller
Master Storyteller Jonathan Kruk entertains, enchants and educates. Born an army brat in Texas, raised in Upper Westchester NY, he grew up on tall tales and day dreams. Earning degrees in English and educational theater from Holy Cross College, Worcester, MA and New York University, Kruk studied at drama at Bretton Hall College, England and at HB Studio in New York. He performed ritual urban theater with Gabrielle Roth & the Mirrors.
Jonathan started by telling his rambunctious kid brother (the Elvis Tribute Artist, King Kruk) bed time tales. Success entertaining at over 1000 children's parties, lead to a full time career storytelling at age 27. Now, he annually books around 250 engagements at schools, libraries, historic sites, festivals, summer camps and other venues.
Jonathan's passion is performing for children. His programs "Finger Fables for Squiggly Squirmers," "Story Theater" and "Medieval Manors and Manners" are funded by B.O.C.E.S. Here’s what a 6th grade teacher from Yorktown, NY wrote. “Jonathan is a fantastic storyteller who helps students really understand the Middle Ages. Students fully participated enthusiastically.” A PTA chair from Katonah NY noted. "The children were absolutely enthralled."
Kruk's CD's, engineered by Emmy winner Matt Noble, earned several Parents Choice and N.A.P.P.A. awards. Jonathan got selected "Best Storyteller in the Hudson Valley" in 2008, earned citations from many scouting groups, and received a citizenship medal from The Sons of the American Revolution.
Jonathan Kruk's dramatic retelling of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" for Historic Hudson Valley, began in 1996 and is now an October tradition. All 2011 forty shows sold out. Thirty December shows of his solo telling of "A Christmas Carol" also sold out. Now, venues like The Mark Twain House in Connecticut are booking this storyteller's unique popular events.
The History Press published Kruk's book "Legends and Lore of Sleepy Hollow and the Hudson Valley." Kruk developed a lively book talk program punctuated by spooky stories and historic fact, sought out by historic societies, libraries, civic clubs, colleges and the D.A.R.. Currently, The History Press accepted his proposal for a book on the Hudson Highlands. He is readying a book for children based on a 19th century Hudson River fairy tale poem.
Jonathan's storytelling style has been described as a 'delightful mix of Robin Williams and Viggo Mortensen.' Theatrical, and lively, he uses varied voices, dance movement, and silly sounding words, like "boombasity" "uglierific" and "squird-lump" to illuminate his tales and get giggles. One 7 year old exclaimed after a Jonathan show. "My imagination really works great!" A third grader declared. "Mr. Kruk was so good at telling tales that he made me feel I was watching them!" A Montclair NJ librarian wrote. "His enthusiasm, use of interactive call and response, his props - beautiful and intriguing felt masks for children, bring to mind a magical Willy Wonka style character come to life." Robert Kennedy, Jr. of the Hudson Riverkeeper wrote after a festival performance. “People were raving about you! You made the day for many little people and their parents!”
Storytelling appeals to all ages, and Kruk always tailors his programs to each audience, and venue. Here's a select list of shows Jonathan's created: Pirates! Summer Dragon Tails, Funny Foodie Fairy Tales, Animal and Acrobats, Stories for Marc Chagall's Circus paintings, Yankee Doodle's Story, Imps, Indians, Pirates and Patriots, Shiver Me Timber Tales, Aesop to Anansi, Grimm and Andersen, Spooky (but not Scary) Stories, Eagle Tales, Revolutionary Heroes, Around the World in Eight Tales, and many more.
Jonathan is a sought after Master of Ceremonies. He's chaired five Robert Burns nights. He's portrayed Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, Henry Laurens, Peter Kalm, Thomas Paine, Washington Irving, Henry Hudson & Robert Fulton. He's lead Harry Potter parades.
Some noteworthy venues and events include; Pete Seeger's Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival, Yonkers Riverfest, Norfolk Oyster Fest, Mamaroneck Harbor Fest, Eagle Fest Croton Point Park, Teddy Roosevelt National Homestead, New-York Historical Society, 225th anniversary of the American Revolution along the Hudson, the Hudson's Quadricentennial, Chief Daniel Nimham Monument in Putnam County NY, New York State Museum, Hudson River Museum, Albany Institute of History and Art, Arkell Museum Canajoharie NY, 1776 House Tappan NY, Fraunces Tavern NYC, Newark Museum, Earthday 1990 & 2000 NYC, California Center for the Arts Escondido CA, Scenic Hudson, Westchester Association for Retarded Adults, 100 Anniversary of the Boy Scouts, USA.
Keynote performances are as follows: Westchester Early Childhood Educator’s Councils 1990-96, Greenburgh School District Superintendent’s Conferences 1998, 1999, Parents as Reading Partners Conference, Albany 1996, New York State Reading Council Conference, Rye NY 2001, 2002 National Native Plants Gathering, Altoona, PA 2003, Archdiocese of New York Annual Teacher’s Conferences 2004, 2005
Jonathan served as storyteller in residence for Freeport NY schools from 1982 to 1992, and for the New Interdisciplinary School a pre-k for developmentally disabled children in Medford NY from 1985 to 1995. He was troubadour for the Huntington Long Island Renaissance Fair from 1987 to 2004, as M.C. for the Nassau County Museum Culture Kids programs from 1998 to 2006. Mr. Kruk has been Historic Hudson Valley's featured storyteller at many events since 1990. His "Magical Tour in Tales of Elfin Lands has been popular annual event at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation since 1981. He's also lead storytelling hikes on the mysterious wandering hermit known as The Leatherman, and for the Sierra Club.
He's appeared on The History, Food and Travel Channels, PBS, German TV ONE, and on New York radio stations WHUD, WAMC, WCBS, WBNR, WVKR.
He offers 8 varied CD's. "Barkface and Rootnose" "The Rainbow Dragon" offer children fables and fairy tales. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle" are unabridged dramatic readings recorded officially for Historic Hudson Valley. "Revolution on the River" and "Once Upon the Hudson" are award winning Hudson River Ramblers (Jonathan and folk singer Rich Bala) recordings. "Halloween Tales" and "Santa-on-the-Hudson" are holiday collections for families.
Ask about Jonathan's story and song performances with Rich Bala as The Hudson River Ramblers. Jonathan is an Early Stages teaching artist in NYC.
Jonathan and his wife, actress/film-maker Andrea Sadler live in a cottage in the Hudson Highlands. His daughter, Zosia studies communications in California. He's past president of the Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce, on the boards of Desmond-Fish Library, the Putnam County Bicentennial Committee and an Eagle Scout. He does yoga, bikes, hikes and collects old bricks.