Annual holiday event moves to The State Theater

Baby it’s getting cold outside, but there will be plenty of warmth at Todd Stoll’s Imperial Red Hot Holiday Stomp (RHHS) inside the historic State Theater in Downtown Springfield.

The RHHS - a Springfield holiday tradition since 2017 - will make its debut in the newly refurbished venue at 7 p.m., Friday, December 22.

“I've produced the 'Stomp’ for nearly 20 years; used to do it in Columbus before I moved to New York City and have partnered with United Senior Services for it since 2017,” says Stoll. “We have also done it at Mother Stewart's several times. Rod Hatfield approached me about moving it to the State Theater early this past Fall.”

Stoll, director of the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra, says he, Hatfield, Maureen Fagans from United Senior Services (USS) and Rod’s father - Dick Hatfield - began planning the event in late summer of this year.

Stoll says the 8-piece jazz band will present many Christmas favorites in both a New Orleans and modern jazz style and feature a fabulous surprise guest vocalist.

“(The State Theater) is an iconic space in our city,” says Stoll. “Nearly a century old, many generations of Springfield residents attended movies and other events there, it’s right downtown, and deserves to have a prominent place in our city's culture.”

Stoll says he hopes the Springfield City Jazz Orchestra is able to play and present jazz at the State Theatre more often.

“I hope a Springfield resident donates them a really great piano,” he says. “The State Theater location feels perfect.”
Stoll says he believes in generations coming together to celebrate.

“Jazz brings us together,” he says. “I promise we'll play something that makes you smile and tap your foot.”

Rod Hatfield along with the Altered State Group (ASG) have breathed new life into the State Theater after taking ownership of it in 2021.

After years of sitting empty and uncared for, the local investment organization - run by business partners behind ASG including Hatfield, Nick Demana, Patrick Field, and Dr. Ash Ahmed - has worked to overhaul and repurpose the venue for events, such as the RHHS.

“The Imperial Red Hot Holiday Stomp is the confluence of two recent Downtown Springfield traditions - Todd Stoll’s ‘Red Hot Holiday Stomp’ - an annual Jazz barnburner previously presented at United Senior Services and my Dad’s annual “Hort! Christmas” - a Downtown Springfield nostalgia show, which has been held at Mother Stewart’s every year since they opened,” says Hatfield.

Stoll listened to Dick Hatfield’s drive-time jazz show on WBLY when he was growing up in Springfield and playing in the jazz band at North High. 

“My dad has been one of Todd’s biggest fans and vocal supporters since he came back and founded the SSJO,” says Hatfield. “So, the idea of getting these two titans together to celebrate Christmas, jazz and Downtown Springfield in one fell swoop seemed natural.”

Hatfield says the newly refurbished State Theater is an ideal venue to merge, showcase and expand these two popular Christmas concerts. 

“Not only can The State accommodate more guests, but the nostalgia aspect of a vintage theater at Christmastime mixed with Todd and my Dad’s cool factor is off the charts,” says Hatfield.

Hatfield explains that The State Theater is not a traditional movie theater anymore. It's an adaptive re-use of a historic space that functions as a 21st Century creative community-multi-purpose-bar-and-event center. 

“It means that there are no longer rows of sloped, fixed seating,” he says. “Instead, the theater is segmented into three flat tiers; a Bar and Concession area (“The Elbow Room”), a banquet table / seating level (“The Lounge Zone”) and a nice sized stage with a fun dance floor area (“The Pit”),” he says. “We also have the biggest movie screen in town. The concession area serves light snacks (hot pretzels, chips and candy) and you’re welcome to bring in your own commercially prepared restaurant food.”

Springfield comedy legend Dick Hatfield – a.k.a. the “Imperial Debubba”  - is the founder of The International Hort! Club and was a jazz DJ on WBLY in the late 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s.

His segment at the RHHS will open up the evening at 7 p.m. with stories, photos and home movies of Downtown Springfield from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s.

“My Dad is quite the raconteur and he’s got some rare footage of ice skating at Snyder Park pond, of Bud Abbott's wedding at the Shawnee Hotel, of Santa at Wren’s Department store, of WBLY’s Smilin’ Bob and the Potluck Players,” says Hatfield. “It’s all dripping with the warmth of yesteryear, and it’ll charm your socks off.”

During the short intermission Dick Hatfield will also share more historic photos of downtown at Christmastime along with showing a fascinating and ironically hilarious Springfield and Clark County CVB promotional film starring Jim “JJ" Jones - another legendary DJ at WBLY in the 1970’s and 80’s. 

“He’s basically presenting a truncated and restructured version of the beloved show that he's always presented at Mother’ Stewart's around Christmas,” says Hatfield. “It really does help set the Holiday mood for everyone and of course, Todd and his 8-piece will blow the roof off the place.”

Hatfield expects the Imperial Red Hot Holiday Stomp to sell-out and encourages an early ticket purchase or early arrival to purchase tickets at the door.

Hatfield says USS is generously underwriting the show making the second-tier banquet table and seating area tickets just $15 (reserved for USS members only). 

A limited number of standing room only (bar/concession area) tickets are also available to the general public; they will be released the day of, at the door, for $15 while supplies last.

The State Theater, 19 South Fountain Ave., is a 21 and up establishment, but children are welcomed as long as accompanied by an adult. Parking is available next door after 5 p.m. or in the parking garage. The RHHS begins at 7 p.m.

“We appreciate all the love and support we’ve received for re-opening The State,” says Hatfield. “We’ve got a lot more in store so stay tuned. We’re doing this for you and our love of great movies, live music and a growing sense of community Downtown.”
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Read more articles by Darci Jordan.

Lifelong Clark County resident Darci Jordan is a freelance writer and former staff writer/columnist for the Springfield News-Sun. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a bachelor of science degree in Agriculture Communications. She currently also serves as a writer for the Clark State Community College marketing department. She enjoys time with her family, horses and Ohio State football. Go Bucks!