BURBANK, Calif — Move over nutcracker. The Troubies are back with another holiday parody guaranteed to leave audiences cracking up. The group got their start doing send ups of Shakespeare, but 20 years ago, artistic director Matt Walker decided to take a shot at Christmas.

What You Need To Know

  • "Die Heart" combines 1988 film with music of Heart

  • Over two decades, the Troubies have amassed an army of die-hard fans 
  • As soon as tickets for "Die Heart" went on sale, the website crashed

  • "Die Heart is playing at the Colony Theatre in Burbank though Dec. 18

“There’s your ‘Christmas Carols’ and there’s your ‘Nutcrackers,’” he said of more traditional holiday fare. “I think we just saw an opportunity there, and we were bored for a few months out of the year, so we thought, let’s assemble.”

Since then they’ve assembled quite a collection of highly untraditional holiday titles. The core formula remains the same — blend a revered title with a popular music catalog and wrap it in a bow.

“So Christmas Carol mixed with the music of a famous popular artist, Carol King, ‘A Christmas Carol King,’” Walker explained, “or ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ with the music of Stevie Wonder. ‘It’s a ‘Stevie Wonderful Life.’ ‘Santa Claus is coming to Motown,’ ‘The Little Drummer Bowie’ and on and on.”

This year, they set their sights on that beloved holiday classic — “Die Hard.”

“’Die Hard’ is a classic Christmas movie and I won’t hear any debate about that,” Walker insisted.

And he certainly won’t get one from longtime Troubie Rick Batalla. “Of course it’s a Christmas movie!” he said. “It has a Christmas tree in it.”

Batalla is utterly delighted to be taken on the role of Hans Gruber, who, next to Santa Claus, is maybe the most famous character associated with holiday films.

“Yes, he is a Christmas icon,” Batalla said, launching into a slow, tight-jawed impression of the late Alan Rickman who originated the role in the 1988 film. “It’s good, right? I’m working on it. Because everybody has one, of course!”

As for the music, they turned to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Heart and the result is “Die Heart,” which is playing at the Colony Theatre in Burbank through Dec. 18.

Batalla once again approves.

“They have some great songs and it’s a great movie,” he said of the mashup. “We just wanted to be rock stars our whole lives, anyway. So let’s do this!”

Over two decades, the Troubies have amassed an army of die-hard fans who also seem to be “Die Hard” fans because as soon as tickets for “Die Heart” went on sale, the website crashed.

“I think we broke the internet when tickets went on sale, because we were running the software on a Commodore 64,” Walker joked. “No, our fans are devout. They’re very loyal. And we couldn’t be more blessed to have an audience like that.”

Maybe it’s because of the first-class scenery, like a cardboard police car that appears to have been borrowed from an elementary school classroom, or the tiny plastic preschool chairs the grown men sink into as they demand the codes needed to gain access to $640 million in negotiable bearer bonds.

“It’s a long way down,” Batalla quips as he slowly takes his seat.

Or maybe it’s the high-tech props, like the truly astounding variety of Nerf dart guns and pet tennis ball launchers that serve as machine guns.

But more likely it’s because the Troubies themselves are having a blast. At these shows, anything can happen and usually does. 

“It’s sort of a train running down the track that is going to go off at any second,” Batalla said, “and the audiences love to see that. And that’s what makes it fun for us. Every night is different.”

“You know, I think trying to make each other laugh on stage is probably what the Troubies are all about,” Walker agreed. “If we’re making each other laugh and we’ve heard the material countless times, then there’s a good chance the audience is probably going to notice how spontaneous and immediate it seems, so they are going to go along for the ride.”

So what do they hope audiences take away from their newest Yuletide tale?

“I hope audiences take away the program because we spend a lot of money on it,” Walker deadpanned. 

But for once, Batalla dropped the accent and the act.

“In all seriousness, it’s nice to be together again,” he said. “I’m hoping that they get a little bit of that togetherness that we missed for so long.”

Rapid fire jokes and one killer Alan Rickman impression. This is holiday tradition Troubies style. As Bruce Willis’ John McClane says, “Welcome to the party, pal.”