CURTAIN UP: Michael Bitterman does Broadway the Hard Way

If you've landed here, you're hopefully a lover of musical theater and probably think of yourself as really weird. For some reason it's always been a closet sort of thing for me. People who are not into it don't understand. We're special!

Five After Eight
A musical I wrote the score for and produced Off Broadway in 1979. It played 3 weeks and the score was recorded by Original Cast Records. It is available on cd at TOWER, HMV, FOOTLIGHTS and most places that sell quality Broadway material. You can also buy it directly from me.

Musical Theater Collectors Club
A publication/newsletter I had written in 1991. I only published 4 issues but I think they're interesting and would like to share them with you.

It Would Have Been Wonderful
I reveal my Stephen Sondheim album that never got recorded from 1983 and tell about my afternoon with Sondheim.

Broadway Tape Catalog
A list of my Broadway tape collection featuring basically very rare non commercially available videos & audios. Also my other lists of Classic TV Variety & Rock/Pop from the 60s are here. I trade.

Other Musicals
All these musicals are available for production. Full tapes are available of these scores for interested producers and theater companies. Unless otherwise indicated, I wrote the music & lyrics to all of these.


By 1979 I had written several musicals already - all begun in 1976 with "MANHATTAN" - about a prostitute meeting a songwriter who's unhappy with his marriage and well, you get the picture. It afforded me the luxury of writing in a style I never had before. If my pop songs are going to be rejected, at least let me write something with meaning. There's no higher art form in songwriting, in my opinion, than musical theater. It lets you come out of yourself and write about other people's feelings-not your own-and not every song has to be about love and sex. So I had enough songs now to create a revue to showcase them. I sort of put them into a script I wrote myself called, "WE'RE NOT WHO WE THINK WE ARE".

I produced and directed this show in Woodstock in 1979 - it received total raves and I took it SUNY New Paltz and put in on there for their summer program. I decided to try it in New York and called my friend, Richard Morton, a very gifted writer, to come up with a new book. We eventually called it "FIVE AFTER EIGHT" - five people performing after eight o'clock.

With an open call I put in Show Business getting over 300 non-equity people from New York, we auditioned them all and landed 5 for the show. Our director was replaced 2 weeks before we went into rehearsal. The show opened at the Cubiculo Theater in New York (right down the street from where Sweeney Todd had just opened) and our first review in the Daily News was terrific. However, our next in the NY Times wasn't so and I think the reason being is the Times didn't send their regular theater critic at all, but James Atlas, the Book Review editor of all people. "FIVE AFTER EIGHT" was an entertainment - Atlas was looking for more and he never reviewed a show in his life.

The review from the Post was in the middle but, of course, it's the Times that rules. The show closed after 18 performances but it did lead to the recording of the cast album, which is now available on CD for $10pp. Also available is a video of the last performance for only $30. Email for info.


"Witty, imaginative & captivating, It's good!"

What can you say about a show that opens with the closing song, ends with a song called "HOW CAN YOU WRITE A SONG ABOUT MANHATTAN WHEN THEY'VE ALL BEEN WRITTEN BEFORE?" which parodies New York songs ranging from Rodgers & Hart, Bernstein to Sondheim, has a song sung by the spirits of the actors supposedly when the audience leaves, as well as a song by Rauol & Loretta Sturgeon, the Underwater Brother & Sister Dance Team, who sing "IF WE SPENT OUR LIVES IN A FISHBOWL", plus a song sung by a ranting, raving woman who's fed up with 25 years of marriage to the same lunkhead and a song that clearly shows we are nothing but a product of our parents and we won't clearly see ourselves until we see our children - THE PERFECT IMBALANCE.

You can say that the show is called "FIVE AFTER EIGHT" and it opened Off Broadway at the Cubiculo Theatre in New York in November 1979 for a limited run of three weeks, breaking all existing house records for that theater. Songs from the show have been performed in all the top cabarets in New York including THE BOTTOM LINE, Reno Sweeneys, Ted Hook's ON STAGE, TRAMPS, and even on an ABC-TV special starring Gabe Kaplan.

"FIVE AFTER EIGHT" is a show business show about five actors who have just completed a long run of a musical. From there they all try to find other jobs (hopefully in the theater) and, seeing an ad in Show Business one day, they all try out for the same show called "FIVE AFTER EIGHT". They go through auditions and call backs and, well, you'll just have to see it to find out what happens.

The original Cast album has been recorded with the original cast and the original band and oddly enough, released on Original Cast Records. The bright and witty score is by Michael Bitterman, the book, by Richard Morton.

|back to the top|


"MANHATTAN": This is the first musical I wrote in 1976. Actually the first musical I wrote was in 1961 and it was called "ARCHIE", based on the Archie comics. I was 11 then and I basically used the comic as my "book" and wrote songs to fit the scenes. "MANHATTAN" was a semi-biographical musical about a song-writer who goes from writing pop songs to theatrical songs and meets a hooker in New York who changes him (and he changes her to a star), he leaves his wife for her and when she becomes a star, she leaves him. He's left alone. I was totally prolific with the writing of "MANHATTAN" - I believe spurned on by catching a rose from Gwen Verdon in "CHICAGO" and shaking Richard Rodgers' hand at a preview of "REX".

"WE'RE NOT WHO WE THINK WE ARE": was a revue of several musicals I had been working on (including Manhattan). I wrote a book for it and directed it in Woodstock, NY in 1978 at the Kleinert gallery. It was also performed at SUNY New Paltz & other places.

"FIVE AFTER EIGHT": was a drastic rewrite of "WE'RE NOT WHO WE THINK WE ARE". I had my friend/playwright Richard Morton do a new book, I wrote some new songs, and produced it Off-Broadway at the Cubiculo Theatre in 1979.

"CLUB CAR": was an all sung musical I wrote in 1980. There really was no such thing as all sung musicals at that time and most producers turned it down because they couldn't figure out if it was opera or broadway. It was definitely (and still is) Broadway all the way. It's one setting is the Club Car of a commuter train to New York. The people fantasize their day dreams on it - wishing for better things - it has a twilight zoney ending to it.

"RASPUTIN": with book & lyrics by Dennis Drogseth, this epic musical written in 1983 tells the true story of Rasputin. Some of the best music I've written is in this unproduced musical. Dennis is doing some rewrites of the book currently.

"DEMIGOD OF E 78th ST": book & lyrics by Dennis Drogseth, this tells of a demigod who comes to New York in the 80s to help out a soul. This musical was scheduled to open at the Woodstock Playhouse in 1985. Janet Hayes (York Theater) loved the score and was going to direct. Harris Gordon, the producer, who had already advertised the show in the NY Times, removed the show a month before opening as he got cold feet about putting on a new musical. He stuck with Agatha Christie instead - something safer.

"THE CELLAR": a very dark subject. We all have hidden fantasies/obsessions/fetishes - we're afraid to reveal them to the outside world. We keep them to ourselves in our cellar. This will not be a family musical.

"DISCOVERING MAGENTA"-Book & Lyrics by "James Kaufman". Henry, a mental health worker, struggles to help Katrina cope with a past that is threatening to destory her present. But he must also wrestle with his own emotional issues. Henry and Katrina both are searching for the specks of goodness hidden in life-as they try to discover magenta.

NOTE: All these musicals are available for production. Simply email me for details or call (914) 246-4761. Full tapes are available of these scores for interested producers and theater companies.

| back to the top |

I'm looking for a good orchestrator, is anyone available?

Who's Fantasy Is This? Broadway the Hardway Wildlife Records Midnight Modulation Michael's Links



KS Studio, Saugerties, NY