The back story: Laura Ambler and Mala Burt met when they joined the Working Writers Forum in Easton, Maryland. At some point they decided to try doing a joint writing project. A year later, Big Skye Ranch, a young adult novel about teenage girls who get sent to a last chance ranch in Montana was published as an e-book. The novel garnered awards at the London and Paris Book Festivals, an IPPY award and a National Indie Excelence Award for e-book fiction.
In the spring of 2011 they were approached to write a Christmas memory book to benefit Christmas in St. Michaels for its 25th anniversary. It became what Ambler called “a passion project” as the pair collected memories and photos. People dug in their attics for dolls, fur trimmed skates, and shared recipes for old time Eastern Shore Christmas treats. Amber and Burt called it The Santa Diaries. At the time they thought it could be the germ of an idea for a Christmas movie screenplay, a project that kept getting shoved to the back burner.
Then in the spring of 2012 Ambler got a call from the Avalon Foundation wondering if she had any ideas that might work for a Christmas production. Amber replied that she and Burt had just the thing. A romantic comedy in which a small-town Santa (who really believes he is Santa Claus) hopes his hugely successful Hollywood actor son will come home and put on the red suit. In the process of writing the stage play, Ambler also wrote a couple of songs so the play became a romantic comedy musical.
The play premiered at the Avalon Theatre in Easton, Maryland on December 16, 2012. Its run of seven shows raised over $31,000 for the Avalon Foundation.
The Santa Dairies lives on and in 2018 will be produced by the Sugar Creek Players in Crawfordsville, Indiana and at The Chocolate Church Arts Center in Bath, Maine.
The Santa Diaries: A Christmas Wedding will premier in Faribault, Minnesota in December 2018. The sequel was commissioned by the The Merlin Players who performed the original in 2014. It features the same cast of characters five years later.
The playwrights can be contacted at:
Laura Ambler firstname.lastname@example.org
Mala Burt email@example.com