Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the show, how would you describe its premise?
Gregory Crafts: Oh, man. How best to describe this?
Okay, so. It’s a known fact that Die Hard is a Christmas movie. That’s 100% indisputable. However, some people shockingly disagree. Those people are wrong. So wrong, in fact, that a pair of comedy groups in Minneapolis (Dana’s Boys and Mainly Me Productions) teamed up and created this show to prove to those humbugs just how wrong they are! Taking the story of Die Hard, with all of its incredible fights, over-the-top explosions, and endlessly-quotable one-liners, they mash it up with other heartwarming holiday classics, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Pretty Woman. And then they turned it into a musical.
So yeah, basically it’s a tastefully offensive musical parody full of surprise cameos and pop-culture jokes proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that Die Hard is, in fact, the greatest Christmas movie ever made.
BD: As the director and producer of the show, what can you tell us about your shared creative process in working with the cast and crew to bring the show to life?
GC: Theatre, by its nature, is a collaborative artform, but I’d be hard-pressed to find another production that takes as much input from its collaborators as this one. The writers of the show (Josh Carson, Brad Erickson, and Andy Rocco Kraft) have given us their blessing to re-write bits as we see fit. Josh and I have a thread going where we check in a couple times a year and pitch jokes to one another. He’s got an idea right now for a new musical number that will probably hit both of our stages in 2023.
What’s more, I’ve tried to foster an environment where anyone in the cast or crew can come and pitch jokes or bits to me, or even just try them on stage in rehearsal. Not everything works, but we’ve found some genuine gut-busting moments this way that we can’t wait to share with our audience.
Honestly, I think that’s the secret to the show. Sure, we’ve got gorgeous lighting, immersive surround sound, a five-foot-tall snow cop puppet, an exploding set, and we make it snow inside the theater. But it’s the performances and the material itself that really make this a night to remember.
BD: This will be the fifth production of the show. Are there any new surprises in store for audiences who may be returning?
GC: Well, it’s a 100% brand-new cast, for one! Not only is this one of the most talented groups ever to don the bloody undershirts and wield the airsoft guns, but each member of this cast has brought their own unique energy to their roles, making this show a completely different experience than ever before. As I mentioned above, this cast has relentlessly explored new jokes and bits, fearlessly trying new things in order to make this the craziest production yet. More importantly, though, they have taken the time to embrace the heart of this story and embody its holiday message.
BD: Sales from the show will go to benefit Pups Without Borders. What can you tell us about the organization and your decision to support its mission?
GC: Pups Without Borders is a wonderful organization co-founded by Liesl Jackson, who is a longtime company member here at Theatre Unleashed. She’s even been in A Very Die Hard Christmas multiple times, playing both Holly Gennaro and her assistant Ginny in different productions. Liesl’s an incredibly skilled performer and comedian, but if there’s one thing she loves more than the stage, it’s dogs. So right off the bat, we have a very personal connection to this organization. More importantly, though, they do important work:
Pups Without Borders is a 501(c)(3) dog rescue established in March of 2020 when the world was at the peak of chaos. They rescue dogs of all ages, and specialize in rescuing pregnant and nursing mothers who have been abandoned or are in need of medical help. The organization provides the dogs a space to give birth, care for their puppies, and recover from a spay in order to help control the pet population with responsible alteration.
Most of their dogs are rescued from impoverished neighborhoods in Baja, California, namely Tijuana. They work closely with rescuers, fosters, drivers, and veterinarians to get dogs off the streets, treated for medical issues, and brought to Southern California where they can be matched with their forever families.
Theatre Unleashed is proud to support Pups Without Borders this holiday season by collecting new and unopened critical goods necessary to their mission, including dog food, leashes, collars, toys, harnesses, pee pads, and cleaning supplies! Patrons who donate any of these items at our box office receive $5 off their ticket to the show!
BD: Are there any upcoming Theatre Unleashed projects that you would care to share with our readers?
GC: I can’t say much right now other than that we’ve got something special planned for the spring – the return of one of our most popular developmental series. Join our mailing list to be the first to hear about it.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about Theatre Unleashed and A Very Die Hard Christmas?
GC: Please check out our website, www.TheatreUnleashed.org, or find us on Facebook and Instagram at @TheatreUnleashed!