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Die Hard with puppets is a Christmas tradition…because it’s a Christmas movie

Shaun McNamara is convinced, as are a large number of people, that Die Hard is without a doubt, a Christmas movie.
Credit: All Puppet Players

PHOENIX — “The first time anyone hears about Die Hard, they’re like…with puppets?!” show creator Shaun McNamara said.

Because McNamara is convinced, as are a large number of people, that Die Hard is without a doubt, a Christmas movie.

That’s why he wrote a show called “Die Hard: A Christmas Story,” mixed the plot of the 1980’s blockbuster with a bunch of other Christmas movies, and added puppets and bad words. The result is a show that’s run for 11 years and routinely sells out.

“I’m someone who loves the holidays and gets very upset that it’s all about kids!” McNamara said.

The show loosely – very loosely – follows the plot of Bruce Willis’s action movie about a cop named John McClane (Willis) who gets invited to his wife’s company’s Christmas party (on Christmas Eve of all days, who does that?) and stumbles into a robbery attempt by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). 

There’s lots of gunfire, lots of explosions, and a lot of back and forth between McClane and Gruber before – SPOILER – Gruber gets dropped off the roof of the building.

In McNamara’s show, Gruber still goes off the roof... but the building is three feet tall and made of painted cardboard. The explosions are also cardboard, tossed up on the building by some black-clad puppeteers.

And there are songs... because, in addition to being a Christmas story, it’s also a Christmas musical. Except the songs also include McClane’s famous swear words.

“Everybody knows the movie and we've truncated it into 90 minutes,” McNamara said... “And we've added a whole bunch of holiday songs. It goes fast, it feels fast, and it's the exact right amount of funny.”

Die Hard: A Christmas Story runs through December 26 at Playhouse on the Park in Phoenix.

Watch the full story below. 

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