Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Very Die Hard Christmas (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

If you decide to go see Theatre Unleashed's latest production of A Very Die Hard Christmas (which for the record I think you should) then allow me to offer one vital piece of advice.

Go watch the original Die Hard movie first. I haven't seen the flick in years and for that reason ended up playing "catch up." This lovely, silly show which aims to simply bring a load of smiles and laughs takes the fact that movie was set at Christmas time then runs with it.  Yeah, it qualifies as a spoof of the flick, with all kinds of meta commentary (one character openly notes she doesn't make good decisions while another admits she probably shouldn't be working for the police department).  All well and good.  But the uber zaniness rises when they start to sew in bits from classic Christmas specials...

For example (HEY! I WARNED YOU ABOUT SPOILERS!!!!) when the Terrorists led by Hans Gruber arrive at the corporation's Christmas Party (held btw on Christmas Eve--who does that?) they line up to do a rendition of "Snow Miser" from The Year Without a Santa Claus. ("He's Hans Gruber/He's now in charge/He's supposed to be West German/But is English by and large...")

Other songs include "What's This" from A Nightmare Before Christmas and "Where Are You Christmas?" from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

And that really is the least of it. What with audience participation, a liberal use of confetti, taking the notion of firearms as somehow important to Christmas and (again) the whole meta thing (someone actually asks Hans Gruber "What's Hermione really like?") it is like a big funny roller coaster of laughs. Me, I loves me some angst. But also, I really enjoy this kind of over-the-top farce that just makes you giggle.

The leads are Wade Wilson as eternally gun-toting John McClane, David Foy Bauer as best-dressed terrorist Hans Gruber and Liesl Jackson as John's wife Holly who is having what one hopes is the worst hair day of her life. All three show talent and spark, but to be honest the supporting cast generally steal show--all of them playing multiple roles.  For example there is Margaret Glaccum as a pregnant office worker with very inappropriate feelsings for the tall blonde terrorists holding her at gunpoint. And Bradley Upton, Adam Meredith as well as Sean Fitzgerald pretty much making up the rest of the cast in a wild frenzy of costume and wig changes (one of them has to change character three times in a single scene, and looks increasingly frantic as he keeps switching back and forth).

A Very Die Hard Christmas plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm through December 19, 2015 at the Belfry Stage 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood, CA 91602. Tickets are $20 and reservations can be made by calling (818) 849-4039 or emailing

*Please note this musical parody production features loud gunshot sound effects, the use of confetti and air cannons, fake blood, profanity, violence, and jazz hands. Welcome to to the party, pal.

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