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A ‘Die Hard’ parody takes the stage, just in time for Christmas

‘Yippee Ki Yay’ at The Huntington Theatre

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
A ‘Die Hard’ parody takes the stage, just in time for Christmas
Darrel Bailey in “Yippee Ki Yay” at The Huntington Theatre. PHOTO: ROD PENN

This holiday season, The Huntington is addressing one of the most enduring debates of the 21st century: Is “Die Hard” a Christmas movie or not? In “Yippee Ki Yay,” a one-man parody of the 1980s action film, the answer is most decidedly yes.

Written by Richard Marsh and performed by Darrel Bailey, “Yippee Ki Yay” retells the machine-gun-fueled romp (with Bailey playing all the characters) and uses a parallel narrative to probe the impact the heroic story can have.

“To make any story work, there has to be human element that you can connect to, and whatever it is for that individual, ‘Die Hard’ has it in spades,” says Bailey. “Whether it’s the tough action hero, or someone who’s willing to fight for something they love, or just funny things blowing up.”

Darrel Bailey in “Yippee Ki Yay” at The Huntington Theatre. PHOTO: Steve Ullathorne

For the uninitiated, “Die Hard,” the 1988 film starring Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman and Reginald VelJohnson, follows classic rough-and-tumble New York City cop John McClane (Willis) as he visits California in an attempt to repair his union with his wife and children. When McClane surprises his wife during her office Christmas party, the building is taken over by a European terrorist crew led by Hans Gruber (Rickman). McClane is the only one equipped to save the day, the hostages and his marriage.

“Die Hard” epitomizes the quintessentially American action movie: An everyman underdog overcomes insurmountable odds for patriotism and love, and he does so in a sequence of explosive action scenes. Actor Bailey is from the UK. He grew up watching the film, and he’s toured “Yippee Ki Yay” all over Europe. He says Marsh unearthed a surprisingly intellectual take on the film, and that undercurrent makes the parody accessible to a wide range of audiences.

“When you see the play and hear the literary references splattered throughout, you’re like, oh my gosh, this is going to be studied one day, isn’t it? A Ph.D. in ‘Die Hard,’” says Bailey. The actor says that though the play has substance and intellectual Easter eggs to it, it will still be packed with plenty of the silliness that makes the original film great. After all, Bailey will be rolling around on stage having epic gun fights with himself.

“Yippee Ki Yay” runs at The Huntington Theatre for eight performances, Dec. 27-31. This Boston run is part of a global tour that will taking Bailey from Colorado and Massachusetts to Australia and back to the UK. This will be Bailey’s first time visiting the United States, and perhaps visiting a seat of patriotism like Boston will help him further access his inner John McClane.

As for the eternal genre debate, “It’s a no-brainer,” says Bailey. “It takes place at Christmas. It’s about a man who wants to reunite with his significant other, with the rest of his family, at Christmas time. It’s a Christmas movie.”

  

“Yippee Ki Yay”, Die Hard, Huntington Theatre, parody, theatre