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
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
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,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.