Episode 034 – Off Off Topic – Sal Clemente & Stephen Talk Star Wars – SPOILERS!


URO_Sal_ClementeI get Off Off Topic with my buddy, Sal Clemente, and we talk some Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Sal and I are the same age, and we both saw the original back in 1977 at age 14.  (I said 15 in the interview, but I checked our birthdates, and we were 14 when it came out.)  I think it’s fair to say the new movie brought out nostalgic feelings from when we saw Star Wars in our youth.


For the first time this podcast is also a “vidcast.”  Here’s the video version:

Couple of things, I said in the podcast that the guy who did Avenue Q was supposed to have done the music for the Cantina Scene in the new Star Wars.  Got it wrong — it was Lin-Manuel Miranda writer of Hamilton and In the Heights who did that music.

We also talk about Sal’s band (which he began with Alan Ware) called Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra (www.URORocks.com). If you want to hear some awesome 70s covers and see  some great showmanship, go check out some of their videos on the website … or better yet … go see them in concert if you live in the Boston area!  They have a concert on January 31st at 9 PM at the Regent Theater in Arlington.

Episode 027 – Ann Talman and Kel Haney


Kel Haney on left and Ann Talman on the right

My friend Ann Talman has been developing her solo show, Woody’s Order! for a few years (well, arguably her whole life) about her relationship with her family and in particular her brother, Woody.

Woody’s Order! will be performed on Monday, September 29th at 9 pm in the 5th Annual United Solo Theatre Festival on Theatre Row.  Click here for more details.

I was very pleased and excited to interview Ann and her director, Kel Haney, in New York.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Hello Ann and Kel — how they met — Ensemble Studio Theater (1:51)
  • Matt Hoverman Workshop — How to Create Your Own Solo Show (4:20)
  • Working on new work, solo work (7:07)
  • The development and evolution of the sola show (8:55)
  • What’s the show Woody’s Order! about? (13:47)
  • How Kel got the theater bug (26:10)
  • A director who likes to read! (30:54)
  • How Ann got the theater bug, imaginary friends (33:36)
  • Trying to give Woody a normal life — frustrations, sex (43:00)
  • Doing Little Foxes on Broadway with Elizabeth Taylor, audition story (48:12)
  • Kel meets Woody (51:02)
  • Al Pacino meets Woody (55:24)

Less than a week after moving to Austin, I headed to New York to doggy-sit for my friends, Margo and Bill.  So I captured this interview with Ann and Kel while in NYC.

Episode 026 – Author Karen Moline – Part 2

Karen Moline's Novels

Karen Moline’s Novels

Here’s part 2 of Karen Moline’s interview. We get right into it talking about celebrity interviewing for the magazines she worked with.  Don’t forget to check out Karen’s books, fiction and non-fiction, on Amazon.

By the way, the director of The Long Good Friday (that we blanked on) was .

Please go to Karen’s website for more information about her at www.KarenMoline.com.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Treating celebrity interview subjects fairly (1:57)
  • Getting pawed by Brian DePalma (3:54)
  • Writing a biography of Bob Hoskins (5:22)
  • Who would play characters in the movie version of Lunch, Alex Kingston (15:26)
  • Getting the inspiration for Belladonna staying at Castle (24:16)
  • Staying true to what you’re good at (35:00)
  • Who would Karen interview now – Hilary Clinton.  Finding interesting people (36:51)
  • Adoption reform, www.pear-reform.org (46:21)

I moved to Austin!  More on that later.  My parents are selling their beautiful home.  Take a look at this cool website I made for them, www.TennesseeMountainRetreat.com.

Episode 025 – Author Karen Moline – Part 1


karen_molineMy fun friend Karen Moline is a wonderful writer with a no shortage of great stories!  We we had such a long conversation (the time flew by) that I needed to break the interview up into 2 parts.  So here is part 1 today.  Come back next Friday for part 2.

One of the first things we talked about was her first novel, Lunch: A Novel of Erotic Obsession, and in the course of talking about that novel we explored a bit some of the ways writers go about getting ideas flowing and freeing themselves up to write.

She got a substantial advance for her second novel, Belladonna, (A Novel of Revenge) back in the days with publishing houses were able to do such things.  Please go to Karen’s website for more information at www.KarenMoline.com.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Hello Karen! (2:20)
  • How Lunch was born (3:10)
  • Stories of being an entertainment journalist; the shift from print interviews to Internet (9:11)
  • From the picture wall of fame – Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, and the set of Harry Potter (17:20)
  • Funny story about John Malkovich (24:36)
  • Discussion about how art is created… or at least how Karen goes about it (26:36)
  • Belladonna, (A Novel of Revenge) (30:50)
  • Advantages of writing with pen and ink (32:12)
  • How ideas for Belladonna came about (35:39)
  • Dreams for inspiration, the fun of research, take a trip to the library! (39:21)
  • What Karen learned at the University of Chicago (44:24)
  • Back to Belladonna, traveling to a location for research (49:05)
  • Writing something that makes you squirm a bit… like an orgy scene! (53:00)
  • Most satisfying financial moment (58:18)
  • How celebrities can change over time… Justin Bieber (1:00:18)
  • Taking criticism (1:05:18)
  • Fiction is to transport you out of your head… we’re all Elizabeth Bennett… and the A&E version is the best btw (1:08:46)
  • A great interview with Mel Gibson with the benefit of a secret (1:15:48)

Tennessee_Mountain_RetreatFinally, I’m moving soon from staying with my folks in East Tennessee to Austin.  My parents are selling their beautiful home.  Take a look at this cool website I made for them, www.TennesseeMountainRetreat.com.

Episode 024 – Jessi Blue Gormezano and Joe Jung – Project Theater and Our Bar NYC


Jessi_Blue_and_Joe_Jung_1Joe Jung and Jessi Blue Gormezano are a talented and adorable theater couple.  I was first introduced to their work with a production of the dark comedy, The Secretaries, produced by their NYC company, Project Theater.

And then when a production of my play Home of the Great Pecan was done at The Drilling Company, we were lucky enough to get Jessi in the lead for that fun Texas romp.

In 2009 they formed a site specific theater experience which has been going strong ever since called Our Bar, which is set – surprise! – in a bar.  It’s a great NYC experience where the audience feels like it’s literally in the middle of the show – and can drink and eat at the same time!  And there always seems to be live music afterwards often performed by the jug band, The Saltcracker Crazies.  So the party goes on well after the show!

Please enjoy my time with the very entertaining, Jessi and Joe.  And don’t miss Our Bar which is the first Wednesday of every month; the next show is called Stuck, and it’s on May 7th, 2014.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Hello Jessi and Joe! The beginnings of Project: Theater (3:11)
  • Backing up in time, how the stars aligned and these kids met (8:43)
  • How I was introduced to Jessi and Joe during the run of The Secretaries by the Five Lesbian Brothers (15:04)
  • My Custom Van by Michael Ian Black (20:40)
  • Joe gets a great job in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (23:46)
  • The OurBarNYC experience, the jug band origin (31:50)
  • Jessi Blue in Home of the Great Pecan (45:25)
  • Jessi Blue, the writer emerges, Mark My Words (48:42)
  • Joe has very specific news on upcoming projects (50:15)
  • How to start a theater company (53:08)
  • “Bizarre, Interesting or Horrible Audition Stories” – Joe’s first (56:26)
  • Jessi’s audition story (1:08:21)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.  URO has a concert coming up.  Click the link to find out more!

Episode 023 – Steve Sherman – Actor in University of Tennessee Masters Program


Steve Sherman in Spamalot at the Clarence Brown Theater


Jessi Blue Gormezano and Steve Sherman in Home of the Great Pecan. Photo by Lee Wexler.

I was introduced to actor Steve Sherman by my buddy Dave Marantz, and he was great in my play, Home of the Great Pecan as Deputy Diggity.  I liked him so much I asked him to be in a workshop to help me develop a new play I’d been working on called Hole.

That was in New York City.  As it happens we are both in Tennessee at the moment, he as a student in University of Tennessee’s graduate acting program which is connected to the Clarence Brown Theater — a LORT Theater.  And he’s in Spamalot which is opening there tonight!

It was great to get the perspective of an actor who had been out in the professional world and had gone back to school.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Hello Steve! His beginnings and how he got the bug (2:58)
  • Producing his own work in New York City (On Campus) and developing new work (5:44)
  • Improv in LA  (8:31)
  • Going back to school – Grad school at University of Tennessee (10:25)
  • Living in the South, long distance relationship (13:14)
  • The plan – teaching or acting (16:04)
  • Working with the Clarence Brown Theater (18:12)
  • Teaching an improv class and taking classes as a student (23:25)
  • After the masters program (28:58)
  • “Bizarre, Interesting or Horrible Audition Stories” (30:14)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.  URO has a concert coming up.  Click the link to find out more!

Episode 022 – Marc Palmieri – Actor, Writer, Webseries Creator


Marc_Palmieri_The_ThingMarc Palmieri is a very smart and entertaining guy, an actor, writer, teacher, and dad. He tells some great stories about getting a screenplay of his made, some of his first survival jobs, his awesome webseries (The Thing), but the most touching part of the interview well may be when he tells the charming story of how he met his wife.

He and I met when a friend of mine was in a play which he was also in, and we all went out afterwards to a bar.  I instantly liked him because he was just fun to be around, but over the years since, I’ve been consistently impressed with the depth of his talent not just as an actor but also as a writer.

In the interview we mentioned the awesome set for his play, Levittown, as designed by Michele Spadaro.  Here’s a picture of that set and a link to that feature in the NY Times.


Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Hello Marc! (3:51)
  • First survival jobs – as a Macy’s “model” and receptionist  (5:10)
  • Growing up, connection to New York, theater roots  (12:00)
  • Artsy fartsy literary Shakespeare guy (15:26)
  • The Thing Webseries  (19:07)
  • Playing the lead in the movie, Too Much Sleep (22:25)
  • Writing the screenplay Telling You, the scoop (25:45)
  • How Marc met his wife – great story! (32:21)
  • Exploring question – is art still important if fewer people see it?  (44:01)
  • Levittown production (and talk about that great set) (47:13)
  • Contacting playwriting hero, Christopher Durang  (1:01:37)
  • Talking about memorable moments of the webseries (1:03:28)
  • “Bizarre, Interesting or Horrible Audition Stories” (1:14:16)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.  URO has a concert coming up.  Click the link to find out more!

Episode 021 – Scott Baker – Actor, Bally Master, Santa


Scott_Baker_Bally_Master_02Scott Baker is truly one of a kind on this earth.  He is the barker or bally master for the Coney Island Freak Show in the summers.  In the winters he is often (when not acting in films or plays) Santa Claus in one of the big department stores.  He was in the legendary show Oh! Calcutta! for 12 years on Broadway, and he also did some porn acting in the 70s-80s!  Quite an amazing and varied life!

He and I met doing theatre Off Off Broadway at the Drilling Company years ago, and he was my muse there in the beginning when I was writing a lot of bizarre comedies for which he was so perfectly suited.  He added his unique stamp to all of those short plays.

Interestingly the interview took a dark and serious turn when we talked about his experiences being mugged in NYC.  NYC is a safer city now, but the area where he’s lived (and in other areas around the 5 boroughs) the city has gone through some major changes through the years.

I promise you will enjoy this talk with Scott Baker!

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Hello Scott! How we met — Two Eggs and La Mouche (3:49)
  • Bally Master a short documentary film about Scott Baker  (8:17)
  • The Coney Island Freak Show — three kinds of freaks (12:00)
  • Early inspirations, Frank Lentini and Gilbert Mysto Magic Set (16:30)
  • How to learn how to pound a nail into your head or eat fire, Coney Island Side Show School (20:32)
  • Winter job, Santa Claus (24:56)
  • How Scott got to New York (25:51)
  • Scott performs in adult films – “Rupert!” (27:23)
  • Oh! Calcutta! on Broadway (33:12)
  • How Times Square has changed, being mugged by gunpoint (37:30)
  • “Bizarre, Interesting or Horrible Audition Stories” (44:00)
  • Kitschy interests and new project: Elvis, Santa, John Wilkes Booth, Frankenstein (50:43)
  • Cancer survivor — of the soft palette (55:16)
  • Remembering director, Richard Harden (59:29)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.  URO has a concert coming up.  Click the link to find out more!

Episode 020 – Holly Williams – Repertory Actor at Barter Theatre


Stephen Bittrich and Holly Williams at Barter Theatre

Holly Williams is a repertory actor at The Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia.  I really wanted to see something at The Barter while I was still in this area (East Tennessee), and I approached her about doing an interview, and she could not have been nicer.  She got me into 2 shows, we had a terrific interview about the busy (and artistically fulfilling) life of the rep actor, and I got the super deluxe tour of the facility.

I was so impressed with the well-oiled machine at the Barter.  They were switching out the set for the evening show when we were talking in the dressing room.  They also have 2 shows going on in the Stage II space (their smaller space), and they are simultaneously rehearsing for the next shows which will go up.  The scheduling people must be geniuses!  Right now at the Barter you could see 4 different shows… Man of LaMancha, I Do I Do I Do, Don’t Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell, and The Dryad: An Appalachian Tale.  Something for everyone!

And Holly was terrific.  She had a lead role in I Do I Do I Do and a supporting role in Man of LaMancha.  And she’s also in the midst of rehearsing for her next cool role as Rita in Educating Rita.  Go check out The Barter if you’re in the area!

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Not Hank Williams Granddaughter (4:30)
  • Can you actually barter to get admission to the theatre?  (8:25)
  • The shows I saw, Holly’s busy schedule, life of a repertory actor (10:15)
  • Holly’s good luck charm, writing a lyric on her fingers (17:15)
  • How Holly got the gig with The Barter (19:30)
  • Versatility required, non-traditional casting (23:40)
  • How Holly got the acting, storytelling bug (25:38)
  • Wall of fame … Barter Alumni (37:32)
  • More about The Barter administrative and creative staff (38:37)
  • “Bizarre, Interesting or Horrible Audition Stories” (47:25)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.  URO has a concert coming up.  Click the link to find out more!

Episode 019 – Corybungus – Off Off Radio Theater


corybungus_posterWelcome to Off Off Radio Theater with the short play Corybungus written by Stephen Bittrich.

Hijinks ensue when a bookshop customer tries to return a defective “OED” (Oxford English Dictionary) because it’s missing words.  This fast moving skit is a nod to the works of Monty Python.

The Returns Man is played by Steve Sherman.

Mr. Weiner, the Customer, is played by Stephen Bittrich.

An interview with Steve Sherman coming soon in a future Off Off Pod episode!

Corybungus was originally performed by The Drilling Company in an evening of New York themed one-acts by Stephen Bittrich called Big Apples.