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 033 – Producer Director Actor Brad Coolidge – Part 2

Filmmaker Brad Coolidge likes hockey

Filmmaker Brad Coolidge likes hockey

Here is part 2 of my interview with Brad Coolidge.

If you’ve ever thought you might want to direct a film, this is a great interview for you because my buddy Brad talks honestly about some of the challenges he faced as a first time director shooting a “creature feature.”

Sometimes the elements don’t cooperate, or your creature gets held up in customs and arrives late, or you don’t have enough days on the schedule.   There are so many obstacles awaiting you when you make a film.

Brad and his wife, Melissa, along with their producing partner, Todd Labarowski, make beautiful indie movies as well.  We talked about these in detail in part 1 of the interview, but here are the links again to those great films: What Maisie Knew, Prince AvalancheJoe,  The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him AND Her, Manglehorn, and The World Made Straight.

Enjoy the interview.  Topics covered:

  • Back to our conversation in progress, El Chupacabra (1:25)
  • Setting the movie in Austin, paring down the budget, casting in NY, LA and locally (5:06)
  • Approaching go time, creature creation by Mario Torres, Jr. (7:22)
  • First day — driving scenes, Texas State University (9:50)
  • Relying on experienced crew, location scouting, spending a lot of time on the master (12:29)
  • Complication at the beginning of the first week (19:19)
  • Weather does not cooperate, steady cam (22:22)
  • Creature challenges, no time to rehearse (24:56)
  • Reworking, editing what’s in the can (33:00)
  • Inspiring the troupes, “Once more unto the breach!” (34:56)
  • A little about raising money (39:46)
  • Working on a script with Brad, Drilling Company connection (44:16)
  • Treating people well on a film set (46:37)

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 015 – Dan Wackerman of The Peccadillo Theater Company


dan_wackermanThe Peccadillo Theater Company is the resident company of Theatre at St. Clements, a beautiful 160 seat space on 46th Street in the heart of Manhattan.  I interviewed Artistic Director, Dan Wackerman, and we talked about their mission to bring classic American theater from the Golden Age of theater, the era of the “well-made play” to the stage.

There are economic challenges involved in bringing period plays with exceptionally large casts to the stage.  (Most modern plays are written with 6 or fewer characters; playwrights like myself know that if you can tell a great story with fewer actors, your chances of getting the play done regionally are better.  This is not necessarily the case for schools and universities where those institutions are interested in giving a lot of  students the opportunity to perform.)

I loved Dan’s quote about how the church half of this organization views theater as a “kind of sacrament.”  Loved that.  (6:05)

Enjoy my talk with Dan, and for more information about this great company, go to the website:  www.thepeccadillo.com.  (Designed and maintained by yours truly.)

If you you would like to see the reading of Clifford Odets’ Rocket to the Moon mentioned at the end of the interview, go here for tickets.  And please keep you eye on the website for William Inge’s A Loss of Roses. Previews begin May 7th, 2014.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Colder winters in New York (2:20)
  • History of Theater at St. Clements and its place in the Off Off Broadway movement (3:08)
  • How Dan got the theater bug (7:26)
  • The Golden Age of American Theater – “era of the well-made play” (10:48)
  • 20 years ago — the first play — O’Neill’s Strange Interlude (12:15)
  • The Silver Cord by Sidney Howard is revisted (14:10)
  • How Dan finds these plays, American gems (15:26)
  • Counsellor at Law, the challenge of working with period plays, large casts (19:07)
  • Another Part of the Forest by Lillian Hellman (20:47)
  • What’s the purpose of theater? (23:53)
  • What’s the job of the director?  Casting is 75% of the job. (27:10)
  • Some new plays in the classic style, opening up the mission (32:53)
  • The future, A Loss of Roses by William Inge (34:44)
  • Auditions from the other side of the table (35:51)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.

Episode 008 – Off Off Topic with Stephen Bittrich – Riding the Wave and the Dominatrix


Erik Van Wyck and Stephen Bittrich at Lincoln Center

In this Off Off Topic episode I tell 3 of my classic New York stories…

The bad, out of focus photo to the left was taken by a beautiful stranger (who looked like a sexy librarian) and marked the beginning of a night of extreme culinary delights when we crashed an exclusive after party at one of the most expensive restaurants in New York, Per Se.  (You’re welcome Per Se for the free ad!)

In another story, I talk about being hired by a 6 foot Dominatrix, and in the last story you’ll hear how a beautiful French nanny picked me up in the Houston International Airport when I was 24.  (No really… really!)

Topics covered in the podcast:

  • The introduction (0:00)
  • An email from Malaysia about my play, MIME IN A BOX, getting paid by Paypal (4:13)
  • Coco the Cat (5:44)
  • Story #1  – The Dominatrix (6:50)
  • Story #2 – Eating for free at Per Se one of the most expensive restaurants in NYC (12:30)
  • “Riding the Wave” — is there meaning in the universe? — Whoah, heavy! (19:57)
  • The date — the mistake of taking her to my play, HOLE (22:18)
  • Story #3 – Getting picked up at the Houston International Airport by a beautiful French nanny (29:50)
  • The Cyclone Roller Coaster in Coney Island (33:30)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.

Episode 007 – Off Off Topic with Stephen Bittrich – Jail in NYC


Fake Mugshot of Stephen Bittrich

Okay, that’s not really my mugshot.  That’s my tribute to Nick Nolte’s mug.  But like Nick, I also got sent to the clink — spent 24 hours in the New York City penal system.  Oh what an adventure!

In this Off Off Topic episode of the podcast I talk all about that fascinating experience.  Not something I’d recommend if you can help it, but it makes a good story.


Topics covered in the podcast:

  • My introduction (0:00)
  • Fender bender in high school  (4:16)
  • Pet peeve — reckless driving is like running down the street waving a sledge hammer (6:51)
  • Minivan in the suburbs (8:25)
  • Returning to NYC — alternate side of the street parking (10:00)
  • I get pulled over for broken tail light (14:20)
  • The sergeant demands my attention, fingerprinting snafus (16:42)
  • The trip to the downtown with the holy-rollers, stopping for breakfast (21:10)
  • The Tombs, making friends (24:07)
  • The bathroom situation in jail (27:51)
  • Somber moment, prisoners being lead back to Rikers (30:58)
  • Why Judge Judy sucks (33:27)
  • Paranoia sets in (36:00)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.

Episode 006 – Erik Van Wyck Actor/Writer – Part 2



This is part 2 of my talk with my good buddy, actor/writer, Erik Van Wyck.  In this interview Erik lets it all hang out in his assessment of Los Angeles, the good, the bad, and the ugly — why it can be intoxicating and also soul sucking to pursue the favored industry of the town.

Erik talks a bit about a movie he helped produce (and acted in) called Expecting (which you can watch now on demand) with Radha Mitchell and Michelle Monaghan.

He also talks about traveling the world as the host of the reality show Getting Abroad which was on for a season on the now defunct The Mojo Network.  The show explored mating and dating rituals around the world, and basically Erik traveled to a country, and he and a local wing man went around and tried to pick up women.  He started each show by sampling an (often disgusting) local aphrodisiac.

Erik also offers up some embarrassing and/or bizarre audition stories.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • My introduction (0:00)
  • What drew Erik to Los Angeles  (4:58)
  • Ryan Reynolds gets Blade Trinity (7:58)
  • Douchebag is born in the movie Expecting (8:41)
  • The reality tv show Getting Abroad goes abroad (12:33)
  • Disgusting aphrodisiacs of the world (15:45)
  • How to get lucky in Iceland (23:50)
  • Interrogated by Stana Katic and the pilot Drived (29:19)
  • Embarrassing audition story, hiding crotch with script (39:48)
  • Big bad casting director story (47:48)
  • Casting couch – keys to the apartment (54:18)
  • The management company, “Welcome to Hollywood” (58:25)
  • Being killed with kindness in LA — “Hope is fuel.” (100:35)
  • Seduced and Abandoned and The Hurt Locker party (104:58)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.

Episode 002 – Off Off Topic with Erik Van Wyck


In this episode which features my very good buddy, actor/writer, Erik Van Wyck, we go off topic a bit in a new segment I’m calling Off Off Topic.

Erik and Stephen

Forgot to take a pic in LA, but here’s a silly one of us from 2006 with my daughter’s stuffed bunny.

In a few weeks I’ll release Erik’s “official” actor/writer interview (including a great embarrassing story about a recent horrible audition), but we had such a nice long conversation for about 2 hours, and there were some bits where we went off the trail that were way too good to be scrapped …

…. thus Off Off Topic.


The segments include:

  • Intro — spooky, did I record a ghost? (00:00)
  • LA vs. NYC (09:10)
  • The Frenchman’s naked breast scam (20:20)
  • Canadians wrestle sarcasm (31:23)
  • The horrors of a kid’s playground (41:06)

ALSO… stayed tuned at the very end of the episode (50:32) for a musical treat.  My buddy Sal Clemente who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” has a band called Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra which is performing a concert version of the rock musical JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR this Friday, Saturday, Sunday (11/22, 11/23, 11/24)  in Arlington, MA at the Regent Theatre.  He gave me permission to include the awesome song “Gethsemane” from their recorded album of JCS on the podcast.  The performer singing Jesus is Chris Cote.  Go to their website to hear other selections including Sal singing Judas… or even better, buy the album or see the concert to hear everything.  Check ’em out!