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Heralded Broadway musicalLegs Diamond” is scheduled for a 30th Anniversary Reunion Concert at Manhattan’s Feinstein’s/54 Below supper club at 254 West 54 Street on December 3, 2017, at 7 PM and 9:30 PM. The show, which debuted in 1988 and is set in the prohibition era, will be directed and produced by Jonathan Cerullo, who was an original cast member.

The original “Legs Diamond” was one of Broadway's biggest and brightest flops. Now reuniting for one evening only, theatergoers will get to enjoy the delightful songs with stories about the production. Even though the musical had a short Broadway run, it was nominated for three Tony Awards for Choreography, Costume Design, and Best Actress.

Recently, Jonathan Cerullo granted an exclusive interview where he discussed “Legs Diamond,” his experiences in theater, and more.

Theater, Broadway, and 'Legs Diamond'

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in theater and how did you break into show business and Broadway?

Jonathan Cerullo (JC): It happened at the very first Broadway musical I saw. I got interested in theater while watching the 1972 production of “Man of La Mancha” at Lincoln Center. During Quixote’s “Impossible Dream,” the theater suddenly became emblazoned with stars. I turned to my father to ask how that happened, and it was the first time I had ever seen him cry. I thought to myself, now, if what’s happening on the stage can do that to a person… I want in! That’s when the theater bug bit me and, well, I have never looked back.

In terms of breaking into showbiz, I did that through dancing. I was a professional dancer and wanted more than anything to dance on Broadway!

MM: How did you get involved with “Legs Diamond”?

JC: I auditioned for the show while I was performing Skimbleshanks in the National Tour of “CATS.” The show’s original choreographer was the wonderful Michael Shawn, who I had studied with, so I flew back to NY to audition and was, almost immediately, hired for the Broadway company (there was a workshop which I did not do). So, after two years on the road with “CATS,” which I loved doing, I took a week off and started rehearsals for “Legs.”

MM: What was the Broadway run of “Legs Diamond” like back in the 80s?

JC: Exciting and exhausting. I had worked on Broadway before as an assistant to director Joe Layton, but this was completely different. “Legs Diamond” was new, and it was with Peter Allen, a major celebrity. I was making my Broadway debut as a dancer, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Also, it was, for me, a chance to see how these big new shows were put together from the first day. Knowing I wanted to direct and choreograph, I intensely studied the work of the director, Robert Allan Ackerman, and choreographer, Alan Johnson (who received a Tony-nominated for his work.) Changes came in, and it was our responsibility to keep up with them; for example, during previews we had a new opening number go in in just under two days, which we rehearsed during the day while performing the old number at night.

MM: The original show was very innovative with costuming and staging...but it seems like there were many malfunctions. Had the production run smoothly while being reviewed, do you think it would have lasted longer?

JC: Yes, most definitely. The malfunctions you speak of are a very interesting fact. “Legs Diamond” with scenery by the brilliant scenic designer, David Mitchell, and lighting designed by the award-winning, Jules Fisher, was the first show in Broadway history to be fully computerized. Computerization and automation are now part of the industry, but in 1988 it had never been done before. So, yes, it took a while to work this out, and the producers generously gave us the time to do so.

Revival, music, and experiences

MM: What prompted you to revive this show, and why in a concert venue such as 54 Below?

JC: Well, to be accurate we are not reviving the actual show. We are doing a “30th Reunion Anniversary Concert” which celebrates the music and lyrics Peter Allen wrote for “Legs Diamond” performed by the original cast members, intertwined with our own stories. The score is so delicious, and having a revisit after thirty years is an amazing journey. I didn’t realize how very complicated the music, arrangements, and orchestrations really were to this show until coming back thirty years later!

Feinstein’s / 54 Below is a perfect venue for this concert. “Legs Diamond” takes place during the prohibition and jazz era. In the show, we travel to nightclubs, the Speakeasies, and “gin joints way on the wrong side of town.” Feinstein’s / 54 Below is a stunning venue which has built a stalwart and respected reputation for New York’s premiere “Supper Club,” with appearances from famous Broadway celebrities. The front door at Feinstein’s / 54 Below is actually a speakeasy door! When I asked Jennifer Tepper, the Programming Director for the venue about this, she told me that “The front door was designed specifically for our venue. The designers who created our speakeasy-inspired decor looked to many classic elements of that time in history.”

MM: Do you have a favorite song in “Legs Diamond”?

JC: Yes, but it’s actually a piece of music, not necessarily a song with lyrics. It is the Prelude which goes into the opening number “When I Get My Name In Lights,” and is one of the most carefully constructed opening sequences I know. It was orchestrated by the brilliant Michael Starobin, and uses vaudeville, drum hits, whistles, and rim shots, and has a real MGM sound like no other. It is a full-on, big bang, of a start! In terms of my favorite song, that would have to be the homage to the Ziegfeld Follies, “I Was Made for Champagne.” I can’t wait to hear Randall Edwards (who starred as Kiki) revive it!

MM: What was your role and experience with the Broadway production of “Legs Diamond” compared to your role now?

JC: I was in the ensemble, and came to work and did my job as best I knew how. I had nothing to do with the creative process, other than the characters I was cast to play. Now, the tables are turned; I am producing and directing. My responsibilities are more involved, but the work ethic is still the same…I do my job, and hopefully, at the end of the day, it is a job well done! I have to say, reconnecting with this company has been joyous!

MM: What other shows have you been involved with and, as a theater professional, what feedback and experiences have been most memorable or rewarding?

JC: Oh my, I have been in this business for over thirty years, and you know how the old saying goes, “you are only as good as your last gig.” The most memorable for me was seeing my first musical as I mentioned, getting the phone call about “Cats,” and honestly just knowing that I can keep the lights on through my art is rewarding enough! Folks who are interested can go to my website by googling “JSC Theatricals” to see what I have been doing as a professional director, choreographer and executive producer. I am blessed with having a steady career.

MM: Do you envision a future for “Legs Diamond”?

JC: Yes, I do! I would love for a wider audience to be able to hear Peter’s wonderful score.

MM: Are you working on any other shows right now and is there anything further that you would like to talk about?

JC: Yes, I am – I was just hired to direct and choreograph Rodgers and Hart’s “The Boys From Syracuse” for Musicals Tonight! I am quite excited- the creative team will be planning an All-Male vaudeville of this wonderful musical opening in February of 2018 on Theatre Row. I am also in talks to direct two new plays. One is currently in development, “Rise” by Scott Barry, this is a beautiful new play I directed the reading of last year and is being produced by Victoria Lang of Lang entertainment Group.