I've caught-up with the cast of Bathhouse: The Musical at the Clifton Diner on Cleveland's west side – which wasn't difficult as they happily drove me there – where the four men are eating breakfasts of eggs and bacon. And Tim Evanicki, who wrote the play, is there too, except he's eating a bagel along with his eggs.

Tim, a sturdy man still defined by his boyish looks, is telling me how to cast a musical which revolves around a gay bathhouse – with straight actors. “Straight men will always play-up the stereotypes better than any gay man could,” he says. “Gay guys off stage might let a purse fall out of their mouths, but put them on stage and they quickly butch it up.”

But this cast, the cast touring with him, is all gay. And Ralph, who plays Teddy, protests that he's butch – even off stage. “Girl, you fell out of a gay tree,” Kevin says. “And you hit every gay branch on your way down,” Guy adds, and, like a track relay runner passing a baton, Tim finishes with, “And you fell on a gay man.” Then, in near unison, all five howl, “And you did him!” Snap!

“It's difficult to get a word in edgewise with this cast,” Tim says. “But at least it's not boring.”

Bathhouse, which the Orlando Sentinel called “freaking hilarious,” has been around for about two years now, in several variations. It started out as a challenge of sorts, when Tim and co-writer Esther Daack realized that concept topped content at a fringe play festival. Driving home after one such festival, they passed a bathhouse and joked that any play with the title Bathhouse: The Musical would be accepted into the festival. And it was. Problem was, it had yet to be written.

That out-loud moment that should have been withdrawn, quickly veered Tim off his chosen career path. The classically trained (Juilliard and Eastman, no less) musical performer had already graced Carnegie Hall and many of the other sacred stages in America, so writing a raunchy, gay musical about a boy's first time at a bathhouse was not on his to-do list.

Their first Bathhouse was a 30 minute chorus of bathhouse etiquette and initiation rites – it now tops two hours with intermission.

“It's been amazing. Totally unexpected,” Tim says, describing a Canadian tour being organized and a British rewrite – one more in-tune with British whimsy – in the works.

Now life is imitating art at the Flex bathhouse in Cleveland, where Bathhouse will be playing for two weeks. “They bought the play,” Tim says. “So we're recreating a bathhouse in a bathhouse.” Except that Bathhouse: The Musical offers a different kind of diversion.

On the net: www.bathhousethemusical.com