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.
Jonathan Kruk: Storyteller
Rich Bala: Folk Singer - Hudson River Ramblers
Steve Kelman: Accompanist
Andrea Sadler: Creative Dramatics
Jim Henson's "The Storyteller" Jay O'Callahan, Brother Blue, Danny Kaye, Peter Sills Story Theater, Pete Seeger, Shari Lewis, Captain Kangaroo, Sandy Becker, Hans Christian Andersen, Burl Ives, My Grandfather Joseph Nowicki
What to Expect
Typical Gig Duration: 30 - 60 minutes
Jonathan, like a pleasant pied piper, draws children in with Willy Wonka charm and attire. Relying on his melodic voice, he gets children to "catch stories in the air." There's no huge sound systems or phony sound tracks. It's simple, theater of the imagination. Children will listen, with their fingers, faces and hearts. Little hands will turn into racing rabbits. They'll giggle giving froggy croaks and dragon roars! They discover who is the mightiest, what makes a witch knot her nose and how a river flows both ways.
Older listeners enjoy the lively language, the imagery, and the intimacy of authentic oral tradition. Often performances are given in period garb, given with wit, offering timeless solutions to life's woes and wonder. They may meet the headless horseman, a heart lost giant, pirates, princesses and patriots. Adults often say, they 'felt like a wide eyed child listening to Jonathan the Storyteller.' Kids have exclaimed. "Jonathan's the best storyteller!" The Story Theater program, ideal for festivals, features simple costumes for kids, who are invited to help take part in the tale. The shows are notably theatrical, animated, never sing songy, stuffy, stilted.
Shows are usually about 50 minutes, highly interactive, lively, with a classic out of another time feel. Shows may be tailored to your theme. Audiences ranges from pre-k to school groups, spiritually inclined adults, ghost tale lovers, historians, and all.
Small chair, table.
Able to project his voice like an opera singer, Jonathan has few technical requirements. A mic is only necessary in outdoor settings if there are unavoidable sources of noise, or with groups over 75. Indoors, a small stage clear well lite with a comfortable seating area is best. Children do best in a semi-circle, on mats, or small chairs. No audience dividing open center isle please! In private settings, snacks and nearby toys will distract from the performance.
On stage, a soft spotlight, the curtain drawn behind, a tall stool, are all that's needed. At festivals, please post the location time and name of performance. A sign stating the name of the show work best, like "Dragon Tales! Live, Here 3 & 4pm by Master Storyteller Jonathan Kruk."
Jonathan Kruk usually arrives about 30 minutes before each show, 45 minutes when there is a costume change, the need for microphones, or some special set up requirement.
Kruk carries liability insurance from Performer's USA.
Social Security number will not be given for payment unless the booking $600. or more. Then, it will only be mailed in on a W-9 requested two weeks before the engagement date.
Payment is expected on the day of the performance, unless another arrangement is made in advance. Generally, a confirmation invoice or contract is issued by Jonathan Kruk. The venue hiring may send their contract for confirmation.
Generally, two to three months notice is needed to secure booking date, but October bookings may require advanced notice.
Each program is tailored to the venue theme and adapted to each audience. All tales are interactive. Here are a few possible set lists.
Finger Fables -
Mouse and Lion - Aesop's fable of a brave mouse helping a bully of a lion, showing children you are never too small to help.
Rabbit And Turtle - fingers turn into these two racers to show all how slow and steady wins the race with some humor too!
Barkface & Rootnose - a fine original fable of two fighting trees who show all the way to friendship, after some silly storming.
Why Spider Has Crooked Legs an Anansi tale of a show off spider, getting carrot soup in his legs.
The Talior's Tale- a delightful riddle of a tale turning nothing into something to take home and tell again.
Little Bear's Dancing Pants - they are lost! Listeners help little bear locate them after they get worn on Rabbit's ears, and Elephant's tusk. We learn the secret of how to stop losing things.
Story Theater - with caps and costumes and sometimes a colorful backdrop.
The Stonecutter - a Japanese skit with five children that everyone helps tell, showing who mighty are the humble.
The Magical Bul-Bul Bird - A quest to bring a mischief making bird to a lonely castle, with ten children helping to act out the tale.
Puss in Boots -a fairy tale from France with a dozen children helping create the magically helpful cat, the miller's son, a two headed ogre and a rollicky good tale.
Pigs, Thrice - A Shakespeare inspired version of the three pigs, with silly grandiose language.
The Froggy Prince- The pouty princess, over eager frog, and of course the sloppy kiss changing everything!
One Dragon, Three Children - a tale with eight children helping to enact with a dragon master teaching selfish kids how to share, with humor and more.
Medieval Manners and Manors -
Lucky John - an indentured servant receives a lump of gold after his service. He makes some shockingly bad trades but still lives happily ever after.
Who is the Mightiest - a clever princess, through a series of delightful tongue twisting ploys, gets her father to agree to let he marry the gardener!
How to Catch a Unicorn - A silly over the top, forsoothely spoken skit dramatizing with audience members how to apprendeth an enchanting creature.
Knighting a Knight- an accurate skit showing how a squire might enter the knighthood on a tournament field, with an arrogant black knight, a fawning purple knight and a couple of swag bellied, fopping puttock squires. Watch out for the kiss!
Hudson River Lore-
Mahicanituk - a native creation myth of the Hudson River
Minuet Buys Manhattan - a skit showing the true tale of the purchase of New York Island.
The Imp of Donderberg - Why skippers must tip their hats to river spirits in order to sail through the Highlands.
Anthony's Nose- The tale from Washington Irving of Peg-leg Peter Stuyvesant and how long nosed Anthony convinced the governor to appreciate this colony along the Hudson. Donder um blixsum!
Spuyten Duyvil - How this extraordinary feature in the Bronx got it's name.
Fulton's Folly - the story of how Robert Fulton fought to create the first successful steamboat in the world on the Hudson.
Past Booked Dates:
04-29-2012 — Pocantico Hills, NY
04-28-2012 — Pocantico Hills, NY
04-22-2012 — Philisburg Manor, Sleepy Hollow, NY
04-21-2012 — Philipsburg Manor, Sleepy Hollow, NY
04-19-2012 — Somers, NY
04-15-2012 — Philipsburg Manor, Sleepy Hollow, NY
04-14-2012 — Philipsburg Manor, Sleepy Hollow, NY
03-27-2012 — Queens School 19, Corona, NYC
03-18-2012 — Albany, NY
03-16-2012 — Albany, NY
03-05-2012 — Queens School 203
03-02-2012 — Willard School, Ridgewood NJ
03-01-2012 — Ashokan Ctr. NY
02-26-2012 — Coe Hall, Oyster Bay, NY
02-25-2012 — Coe Hall, Oyster Bay, NY
02-25-2012 — Coe Hall, Oyster Bay, NY
CDs For Sale
Barkface & Rootnose
The Rainbow Dragon & Other Tales
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Rip Van Winkle
Santa on the Hudson
Revolution on the River
Once Upon the Hudson
2006: 243 gigs
2007: 262 gigs
2008: 239 gigs
2009: 272 gigs
2010: 250 gigs
2011: 257 gigs
2012: 272 gigs
2013: 109 gigs (so far)
View Complete Calendar
Available for Your
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Party, Birthday Party, Christmas Party, Church Service, Corporate Event, Fair, Festival, Fundraiser, Halloween Party, Holiday Party, Luncheon/Tea, Parade, Private Party, Retreat, Trade Show