By Anne Jones
I’m pretty sure that when you actually have to google the word hipster, then you do not fall under this category of individuals. I’m also sure that when you subscribe to InStyle, own a Christina Aguilera CD, drink signature cocktails, and text friends when a celebrity’s in the same bar, that you’re not a hipster. What sealed the deal for me was the “are you a hipster” quiz I took (a result of my Googling expedition). The conclusion: “unless Yanni and a pleasant disposition come back in style, you are not a hipster.”
So what is a hipster? This was a question that my husband asked me when he took his first trip to Williamsburg and the subject was broached. I explained to him in the way I explain fashion to my husband- supertight jeans, Freddy Kruger sweaters, blacked-rimmed-glasses and a hat like my grandpa wears. Sure enough, moments after stepping off the L train, he understood exactly what a hipster was, but not how they fit in their jeans.
Williamsburg, The Musical mocked this to perfection. Surely it was hipsters who created it, their kitchiness was sinister yet celebrated. They nailed the neighborhood to perfection and the gentrification that had turned one of the most diverse boroughs into a white (quite pale actually) bread haven for the hip.
The plot revolves around the people of the neighborhood and their fight against the evil broker, Amina Snatch (yielded numerous jokes) who aims to make Williamsburg a condo haven for the young and rich. Shlomo, (Hasidic Jew) and newest hipster to the neighborhood, Piper Paris (trust fund baby), fall in love over a romantic suicidal moment on the Williamsburg Bridge. A lovely song is born out of their forbidden love and so the story goes. This musical tends to capture the kinder version of the hipster, almost innocent, therefore making the characters quirky and lovable. This is not always true of the hipster disposition.
My first encounter with a hipster was, unfortunately, with the “Angry-Hipster”. The girl who was constantly rolling her eyes at me and making air quotes about everyone’s lameness. She spent her evening hours hanging out in coffee shops and blogging depressing poetry in her parent’s basement. She put effort into looking as if she had made no effort at all, and tried her best to come off as if she didn’t try at all. She hated me for reading celebrity blogs and scoffed when I applied mascara. What would really get her, or any AH (angry-hipster) is when the non-hipster steals their thunder or finds their gems. For example, when a band goes mainstream because of an Apple commercial or when I just buy a 12 pack of PBR. Um, yes, I drink PBR, I’m from the Midwest, it’s not hip there, it’s cheap and gets the job done. I should have known that PBR was hip when I was buying it off of the shelves at Whole Foods.
In Williamsburg, the musical, you don’t really get to encounter the AH, though the lyrics give a good jab at the darker side of Hipster-life. Actually, the music alone is worth seeing Williamsburg, it’s witty and engaging.
New Yorkers will totally “get” the “Craigslist Hookup/Missed Connection” and “Million Dollar Crackhouse” songs. The actors were vibrant and I especially liked Shlomo. The plot on the other hand, seemed to get a little shaky when the hipsters turned zombies and developed a peculiar drooling problem. It felt displaced and awkward; the only redeeming quality was the thriller-esque dance that accompanied a zombie scene.
Final thoughts: the musical was fun and well, hip. The plot was shaky but music and dancing held it together. It would be a tough sell to anyone who is not familiar with the city, but for those who are, it’s like our own private joke. Whether you’re a hipster, a hater or a hipster-hater, Williamsburg, the Musical is worthy of any New Yorker’s evening.