Interview: Sandro Monetti Anxious To Have A VERY DIE HARD CHRISTMAS

Jeff Schell and The Habit’s A Very Die Hard Christmas opens December 10th @ Theatre 40

By: Nov. 30, 2023
Interview: Sandro Monetti Anxious To Have A VERY DIE HARD CHRISTMAS

Interview: Sandro Monetti Anxious To Have A VERY DIE HARD CHRISTMAS

Jeff Schell and The Habit’s A Very Die Hard Christmas opens December 10, 2023 at Theatre 40. Celebrating the film’s 35th anniversary, Sandro Monetti directs this musical parody with the cast of Nick Versteeg, Lauren SamuelsJesse Merlin, Raymund King, Nick Bredosky, and Theatre 40 favorites Roslyn Cohn, Joe Clabby and Kristal Dickerson. Sandro graciously made it a priority to promptly answer a few of my queries.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Sandro!

What sparked you into initiating this Theatre 40 production of A Very Die Hard Christmas?

On Christmas Eve 2022, I bought a ticket to see my favorite action movie, Die Hard, at the L.A. revival movie theater owned by Quentin Tarantino (the New Beverly) and wondered if anyone else would show up. I arrived to see sold out signs and a line around the block waiting for standby tickets. As the movie played to cheers and laughter and seeing the joy on the faces of the audience at the end, it was clear there was still so much love for this franchise, With the film’s 35th anniversary approaching in 2023, I got the idea to license the parody stage musical – which I’d seen and also loved – this year and stage it in the city where the movie is set in a bid to further spread the joy and message of Die Hard.

You licensed the show which was originated by the Seattle-based comedy troupe The Habit in 2019 and reprised in 2021. How did your additional dialogue come about?

The dialogue has been expanded in order to emphasize and amplify the message at the heart of the Die Hard movie and show – about the tremendous courage it takes to face up to adversity and overcome it. It must remain a surprise treat for audiences about the heartfelt way we’ve done that but book a ticket at Theatre40.org and find out! The team at The Habit have been most helpful in providing advice for staging in response to questions. It’s great to learn from comedy genius like that and we hope to do them proud.

Which of the five Die Hard films are you spoofing? Or are you spoofing a combination of them?

Just the first film, which is an enduring Christmas classic. My production partners, Raymund King, Brina Palencia and Josey Wells, also love all the Die Hard movies but we feel he first one is so well embedded in people’s minds, largely due to being rescreened on TV every Christmas, that the jokes should all land.

What would your three-line pitch for A Very Die Hard Christmas be?

‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the playhouse, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Then out on the stage, there arose such a clatter as John McClane leapt into action to deal with the matter. The audience later exclaimed as they drove out of sight, Happy Christmas to all, that gave us a good night.

Are the songs in A Very Die Hard Christmas originals or previous pop hits?

There are parodies of previous pop hits and originals too. All designed to give the theatrical experience a Christmas party atmosphere.

How is it that this production landed at Theatre 40?

As the nearest theatre to the building used at Nakatomi Plaza in the original Die Hard movie, it seems like the natural home for the show. Audiences will see the  familiar looming tower on their way to the venue. Plus, like Die Hard, Theatre 40 has a long history of entertaining audiences for many years.

When did you become aware of this nifty movie trivia of the Nakatomi Plaza location?

Several years ago I guided a movie location tour of Los Angeles, that I created to show tourists and locals a series of iconic L.A. buildings that had featured in movies and shared the stories behind them. Everything from the Nightmare on Elm Street House to the Pretty Woman apartment was featured but there was always a special thrill among the guests at seeing Nakatomi Plaza. As I explained to my guests, at the time of filming the building was called Fox Plaza and, as the film was all shot at night, 20th Century Fox was able to use one of their own office buildings, which backed onto the Fox lot in Century City.

Your cast is a blend of Theatre 40 regulars and others new to Theatre 40. Anyone you’ve worked with before?

I’m very familiar with the behind the scenes team at Theatre 40 having premiered an earlier show, Marilyn & Sinatra there, before that play transferred to New York and London. And having watched members of their company in several productions, I could see several who would be perfect for roles in this Die Hard show. The rest of the cast was filled out with actors I had seen excel in various productions at the Hollywood Fringe, which is an excellent showcase for emerging talent. Plus I was thrilled to add West End stage star Lauren Samuels to the cast and had worked with her before, producing the first series of her podcast, A Brit in LA.

What inspired you to record the song I’m John McClane with A Very Die Hard Christmas lead Niek Versteeg, with proceeds earmarked for charities fighting Aphasia, the disorder affecting Die Hard star Bruce Willis?

While rehearsing the show we wanted to do more to stress the central message of finding courage to face adversity and that’s something not just Bruce Willis and his family have done but families all over the world impacted by Aphasia. While not everyone in the world can get to Los Angeles to see this show, the wonderful thing about digital media is that people anywhere can download a song about this message and at the same time help a great cause. So Niek and I teamed up with songwriters Flynn/Hooper on a separate project to spread the spirit and message of this mission even further through music.

Do you plan to make A Very Die Hard Christmas a perennial holiday show?

We’re just focused on making these shows in Los Angeles this Christmas entertaining and enjoyable for the audience and don’t have any specific plans beyond that.

What gives you greater gratification? Directing? Playwrighting? Journalism?

They are all different forms of the same thing – storytelling. I’m so privileged to have the opportunity to make audiences feel things through stories.

What’s in the near future for Sandro Monetti?

Nostalgia is a very powerful force in entertainment, and it would be great to continue to find new ways for audiences to enjoy the entertainment franchises and personalities of their youth. Paying tribute to Die Hard in this way is one such example, so was a theatrical event I hosted in England interviewing Sylvester Stallone in front of 5,000 fans as he looked back on his career. I shall be working next year on projects celebrating Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart and other legends. I just want to play a part in keeping the magic of great stars alive.

Thank you again, Sandro! I look forward to meeting your John McClane and cohorts.

For tickets to the live performances of A Very Die Hard Christmas December 10th, 17th and 20th, click on the button below:




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