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Hot Babes in Toyland
Former NYC Playwright Returns to Ring in the Holidays with Sexy Stage Comedy

Written by Elias Stimac


 

This is the story of a Christmas miracle, or more precisely, how a former New York-based playwright came out of semi-retirement in Florida to bring a sexy holiday comedy to the off-off-Broadway boards.

The winter’s tale begins with the writer’s humble childhood in Cleveland, Ohio, where he spent many a Christmas celebrating with his working class family. Looking exactly like the kid from “A Christmas Story” (but born several decades later), our hero anticipated Santa’s annual visits with unbridled enthusiasm -- that is, until the year he happened upon a stash of gift-wrapped presents in a basement storage area weeks before the big day. His excitement never dissipated, even when as a teen he was given a very special gift by his mother which turned out to be nothing more than an empty box.

Undeterred by these Santa-related setbacks, the budding dramatist discovered that spinning yarns about the season came quite naturally. In high school, he wrote a popular newspaper column based on the adventures of Chilly, the Christmas Penguin. College found him performing a solo show entitled The Easter Carol, with all the usual holiday traditions transposed for maximum comic effect.

Moving to Chicago to study with Second City’s Players workshop, the writer was able to hone his comedic skills in the appropriately-named Windy City. Soon afterwards, he heeded the call of Hollywood and moved to Los Angeles, where he worked in multiple capacities in the entertainment industry, including stints with Universal Studios, Disney, and Good Morning America.

While fame as an actor eluded him, he used his penchant for penning plays to become a fixture on the local arts scene. He also landed a job as a theatre critic for the now-defunct Drama-Logue Magazine, an assignment which broadened his love of theatre and even gave him the dubious distinction of being the only critic ever assigned to review his own play (he declined the opportunity).

L.A.’s green Christmases had direct bearing on what happened next – our protagonist began writing a series of one-acts based on holiday themes. The first two, Wonderful Life and A’Carolling, debuted under the auspices of the Zeitgeist Theatre Company. Subsequent incarnations saw more plays being added into the show, which eventually became known as Yuletidings! and had its official premiere at the Road Theatre in 1997.

So when the playwright heard the call to “Go East, Young Man” and moved to the Big Apple two years later, he brought a trunkload of seasonal scripts with him. New York audiences were subsequently offered five different slates of shows, all produced at the American Theatre of Actors. Out of the approximately 40 plays that comprised the evenings, 39 of them were heartwarming and humorous takes on the holidays. Only one pushed the limits of traditional family fare, as was evident by its less-than-politically-correct title – Hot Babes in Toyland.

Interestingly enough, the playwright found himself in the unique position of once again being a theatre producer as well as a critic, this time for BackStage magazine. He also started profiling artists for our very own NewYorkCool.com. By successfully juggling his dual duties, he avoided conflicts of interest and thrived in both areas, and was never more productive in the theatre world as during the early part of this decade.

Back then, the 15-minute playlet version of Hot Babes was envisioned by the author as the basis for a full-length work. The plot was simple – Santa replaces all the toyshop workers with Supermodels, much to the dismay of Mrs. Claus, Elfis the Elf, and Sprinkles, a cute little sprite with a mad crush on Ol’ Saint Nick.

Transforming the script to a full-length show, however, was put on the back burner after the tragedy of 9/11. The writer lost his day job in publishing, and after freelance work dried up in NYC, he was forced to relocate to South Florida a few years later. All of the writer’s theatrical aspirations were put on hold and replaced with scriptwriting and photography assignments for his new employer, OneModelPlace.com.

The playwright dabbled as a Fort Lauderdale stage critic for the free publication New Times, but he wasn’t motivated enough to participate in the local theatre scene. It appeared as if his holiday scripts, along with his lofty theatrical ambitions, were going to be shelved forever.

Then one day he got a fortuitous call that would jumpstart his playwriting career again. Michael Gershowitz, the original Elfis the Elf from the NYC production of Hot Babes, was calling from his new hometown of Seattle asking if he could re-stage the play for local Northwest audiences.

The writer was happy to grant him the rights; however it was clear the script had to be expanded to stand on its own as an evening of entertainment. While feverishly working to complete a commissioned screenplay under deadline, the writer took breaks to flesh out the Hot Babes script – pun intended. Spurred on by a comment from an actress who was offended by the nature of the play, the writer was inspired to fill his sex comedy with as much raunchy, ribald humor as possible. Needless to say, the full-length version was done in a matter of days.

Once the Seattle production was in place at the Odd Duck Studio (Dec. 3-20), the writer began planning a small run in South Florida at the OMP Studio Dec. 17-20, then hit upon the idea to premiere the show in all four corners of the United States. He immediately started shopping the property to theatre friends in New York City.

Industry colleague Michael Martinez got a hold of the script and brought it to the attention of stage director/avant garde musician Jeremy X Halpern. The pair booked The Players Theatre Loft for a six-week run and the rest, as they say, is history. The show, which in Halpern’s interpretation will have a bawdy burlesque bent, opens Nov. 5 at 8pm. While waiting to confirm final details regarding the L.A. run, the playwright plans to come see the New York incarnation during a weekend performance on Saturday, Nov 21, and will participate in a post-show Q & A session with cast and crew.

So it seems that creating holiday magic for the stage is once again in the playwright’s blood. It took a while for him to get back on track, but somewhere a bell is ringing, because this theatre angel feels like he has finally got his wings. His heart feels like it has grown three sizes, his nutcracker is back in action, and he wishes to tell his merry New York Cool readers one final message: “Merry Christmas to all; God bless us, everyone; and come see ‘Hot Babes in Toyland!’”

Full disclosure: The playwright in question is, in fact, me. My holiday show “Hot Babes in Toyland” is having its world premiere Nov. 5-Dec. 17 at The Players Theatre Loft, 115 Macdougal Street at Minetta Lane. The show is directed by Jeremy X. Halpern and co-produced by Halpern and Michael Martinez. Cast members include Alena Acker, Sierra Carrere, Kelly Johnston, Maia McCann, and Mike Zartman. The show features live music from the band Verge (Halpern, Bob Jakuc, and Howie Hedd) and special guests Kiki Flynn as Mae West (Dec. 3 and 10) and the infamous Dirty Martini (Dec. 17). Additional material provided by Susan Bucci. Visit Theatermania.com for more details and reservations. You can find my artist interviews here on NewYorkCool.com, and can contact me with questions and comments at backstagewriter@aol.com.



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