Eric Ostrow (Host/Conceiver/Executive Producer) trained in NYC and earned an MFA in acting/performance at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. He worked Off-Broadway, regionally, in film, and voice-overs. Eric taught and coached actors for film, television and Broadway, in shows including Mamma Mia, Chicago, Epic Proportions, and “The Good Wife.” Eric headed Dramatics at NYC’s Xavier High School and was on faculty at The Maggie Flanigan Studio.
Eric’s career in hospitality has included positions at Ruth’s Chris Steak House and The Glazier Group, where he led private dining. He has produced events for The Tony Awards, Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project, The Roundabout, The Lortel Awards, opening night parties, and gala fundraisers. He recently launched Miami Pure Catering, focusing on photo and film shoots in Miami & NYC. MPC is an eco-friendly hospitality concept using locally sourced, sustainable, and organic food.
Born from true love for the theatre community, Live At The Lortel celebrates the unsung heroes of the stage. These artists have been working in the theatre their whole lives. They’re at the heart of every show, but their names are not always above the title. Live at the Lortel offers audiences an opportunity to hear from their favorite stage performers and artists in an intimate setting – the 299-seat Lucille Lortel Theatre. These conversations dig deep into the artists’ work and career, including past, current, and future projects. Hosted by theatre-obsessed Ostrow, Live At The Lortel podcast trudges deep into the artistic minds of our greatest American theatre artists
T2C: How are you dealing with home containment?
Eric Ostrow: My partner and I are doing well considering what is going on in the world. Structure is very important to me during this down time. Waking up early, taking the dog for long walks, exercising everyday (ok…every OTHER day), and working on my Live at the Lortel podcast. It’s imperative that I do my due diligence for every artist I interview. This includes reading and watching interviews they have done and immersing myself in their work. I try to not ask the same mundane questions they are asked in other interviews. And it’s important to ask how they are keeping artistically alive during the pandemic, and for our listeners to hear how these artists are keeping their craft intact.
T2C: What would you say is the difference of being in self lockdown between NYC and Miami Beach, Florida?
Eric Ostrow: We decided to stay in Miami and not go back to NY during lockdown. There’s much more room in Miami to spread out. I miss NYC. Oddly, I felt I was betraying my city by not being there during this time. I FaceTime and ZOOM constantly with the staff at The Lortel Theatre and my friends in NY. I think we all need to do what feels comfortable for our own safely, both physically and mentally. I cannot wait to get back to NY when it starts opening up. NY is resilient and will come back strong.
T2C: What have you been able to accomplish in this time?
Eric Ostrow: Quite a lot. Since we started doing the podcast virtually, I can work from anywhere. But quite honestly, it breaks my heart that we can’t do the interviews live in the Lortel Theatre. Being on stage with the artist and having an audience brings a wonderful dynamic. The audience is able to get to know their favorite artists in an intimate way. But we wanted to continue to bring new content to our audience, which we can do through ZOOM. I consider myself a very lucky person to pick the brains of some of our most esteemed theatrical artists.
T2C: What has this time stopped you from accomplishing?
Eric Ostrow: Seeing my family and friends. Our family is spread out mostly in New York and California. I miss them and I miss human contact. Being a curious person by nature, I adore getting to know people intimately. I miss being able have a face to face conversation with someone on any topic. My dearest friends are my family, and listening and responding on a personal level keeps me grounded and extremely grateful to be alive.
T2C: What kind of emotions does this time bringing out of you?
Eric Ostrow: My Every one of them! But laughing is my favorite thing to do. I try to laugh as much as possible. Even now, you can find humor in many things.
T2C: If you were to equate this time to a song or song cycle what would it be?
Eric Ostrow: I love Burt Bacharach. I keep listening to many different versions of “What the World Needs Now.”
T2C: What message would you like to give the world right now?
Eric Ostrow: Don’t give up hope. Hope is all we have sometimes. It’s very easy to feel down and pessimistic now. Staying positive and giving hope is not easy. Every artist I’ve interviewed since we’ve been in isolation has given our audience hope. I always ask, “What’s your hope or vision for our theatre community when we come out of this?” Answers vary, but the one thing they all say is that the theatre will be stronger. We as a nation will be stronger. We can’t control what we can’t control. The only things we can control are our outlook and how we deal with this pandemic. My grandma Lil use to say, “All we have is hope.”
T2C: What is the first thing you will do when we are no longer self-quarantined?
Eric Ostrow: Connect with as many people face to face (with masks if necessary) as I can. Hug them and tell them in person how much they mean to me. Since I can take things for granted, I plan to make sure the people I love know it more often.
And of course, GO SEE LIVE THEATRE. Nothing is more intimate than sitting in a theatre with strangers and watching live theatre. There’s that moment when the lights go down and we’re all one. There’s nothing better than watching artists create behavior and tell stories.
T2C: What are the things that are getting you through this time?
Eric Ostrow: Having time to listen to other podcasts and interviews with fascinating artists has been very inspiring. I love TV and film, but there’s something still so wonderful about listening to a podcast. Storytelling is a lost art. Thanks to so many podcasts, you can now hear these stories. Every one of us has a story. One of the reasons we started this podcast was to document stories and careers of some of the most incredible artists of our time, and being able to capture them in a way that will help establish their legacies. Theatre artists are full of life and hope.
T2C: What haven’t we asked you that you would like to say?
The best way to stop feeling sorry for yourself is to do something for someone else. Whether that’s making masks, helping a neighbor who cannot get out for essentials, or something as simple as calling someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time to see how they’re doing. Human contact can change someone’s day. There are also so many non-profit organizations that are struggling now to stay afloat. It’s a difficult time for many people to donate money, but every little bit helps these organizations.