Yippie-kay-ay Mister Falcon! Die Hard, The Musical(ish) mostly delivers on its crowd-pleasing premise: a singing, dancing retelling of everyone's favourite action movie using rewritten 80's pop tunes. Along they way they take shots at nascent touchscreen tech, Swatch watches, and a grab-bag of pop-culture targets both 80's and contemporary. They even reference inside stuff that true aficionados like will appreciate - like the classic film's few continuity errors and plot holes.
Why "ish"? That's explained in a brash framing device I'd not seen before, the show's producer steps up as a narrator - and investment pitchman! In what could be a tribute to 80's go-go capitalism run amok, Mark Vandenberg talks up the idea of investing in the show to make it a proper stage spectacle - complete with proposed set sketches and descriptions of "Miss Saigon"-style sequences that could happen if the right investors step up. He also fills in for unstageable plot points and compresses the story for time. Between him and the occasional on-screen explanations (including some quick and funny explanation on why the African-American roles are not played by black actors), it adds a fun level of meta to the proceedings.
They shift the action to Vancouver via a few local references, though I feel these could have been sharpened up. (Hans Gruber's revised Canadian persona as he meets with McClane on the rooftop, though, is comic gold.)
The songs - actually rewritten 80's rock, pop and New Wave classics - are mostly effective, though the new lyrics are sometimes kludgy or have a weird em-PHA-sis. Still, the German terrorists arriving to the tune of "99 Luftballons" is priceless. And the sleazy, cokehead coworker Ellis's song, "Negotiate" (to the tune of George Michael's "Faith") is a memorable highlight.
Richard Meen impressed with not only killer, terrorist-defeating dance moves, but a spot-on Bruce Willis impression. Vic Ustare, Amy Dauer and CJ McGillivray showed great versatility in their multiple roles.
And wow, I thought I was the only one who thought the bad guys' fake receptionist was a ringer for Huey Lewis!
Fun though it is, there were some weaknesses that should be addressed - and hopefully would be in that well-funded remount. Even with the music/voice mix seemingly good, I had trouble hearing lots of the lyrics. It might be as simple as, er, singing louder? And Ustar, in his multiple roles as Mr. Takagi, Argyle the limo driver and others, seems to be singing in too low a register, which doesn't help. Matthew D. Simmons nails the icy calm of Hans Gruber, but without ramping up his understated delivery during the songs, I lost many of his lyrics.
Still, "DHTM" mostly delivers on what you would hope for - it's a silly and hilarious action-comedy full of meta-commentary on the 80's, and a fitting tribute to one of the most perfect, crowd-pleasing action movies ever made.
Both remaining shows are sold out, but some tickets are reserved for walkups, so lining up early might still get you in.