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Broadway Bullet Interview: Williamsburg the Musical

 We sit down for an Interview with Will Brumley (Co-creator) and Allison Guinn (actor). They perform two songs from the show.  Williamsburg! The Musical is a hilarious pop/rock parody of Brooklyn's over-hyped hipster 'hood. A suicidal Trust-Funder encounters a disenchanted Hasidic Jew in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge. On their potholed road to love, they battle a greedy real estate agent whose diabolical plan to overtake the neighborhood spawns an army of zombie-like hipsters. Will the unlikely heroes of Williamsburg band together to save the sub-borough? Or will gentrification reign?

You can listen to this interview and many other great features for free on Broadway Bullet Volume 122. Subscribe for free so you don't miss an episode.

 

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Broadway Bullet Interview: Williamsburg the Musical

 

Broadway Bullet: Up until now, all I've really cared to know about Williamsburg is that it's way too hip for me, and, in fact, I think it's about way too hip for anybody. Doesn't matter if you're hip enough -- it's still way too hip for you. And I think that's the point that the writers were getting at when they put together Williamsburg! The Musical, which is opening at the Fringe. We have the bookwriter, Will Brumley, and one of the actors, Allison Guinn, with us today. How are you guys doing?

Will Brumley/Allison Guinn: Good, how are you?

BB: Keeping busy. We've got a kind of crew waiting out there to sing for a group number in here.

WB: Yeah, we do.

AG: We like to pack it in.

WB: We've got a big cast: thirteen people, in a Fringe show.

BB: Yeah, that is -- that's huge!

WB: It is huge!

BB: So what's going on with the show? Tell us a little bit about the show here.

WB: The show is about a neurotic hipster who falls in love with a Hasidic Jew.

AG: Oh boy.

WB: But there's also the counter-story of what's going on in the 'Burg with the real estate sect, and there's an evil real estate agent named Amina Snatch --

BB: Is there any other kind of real estate agent?

AG: I've found -- not in New York, no. (laughter)

WB: Maybe not in New York. But she's slowly turning hipsters into her zombie-like army of conformists, and the hipster who's played by Allison --

AG: Hello!

WB: Piper Paris is her name -- she and Shlomo Zildenberg must save the 'Burg from these zombies, and from Amina.

BB: I also just remembered, my business partner's in real estate; he's going to have a cow when he hears that. (laughs)

AG: Oops! I mean, you're wonderful.

BB: So, I understand there's kind of an interesting tale behind casting the Hasidic Jew in this? You want to get somebody real authentic and --

WB: We did, well, we felt it was really important to try and put someone in the show that was authentic. I mean, we didn't want to cast or depict anyone that didn't come across as -- that we were aware of the culture. And so, we went on that search to try and find somebody that was of the Hasidic faith. We had a huge open call -- there were about a hundred people at that, and then another day of auditions, and then we extended auditions, and finally we went with someone- -- we didn't end up going with a Hasidic Jew, but we did have a lot of people that contacted us through the process. Like a Hasidic rebel, who is a blogger, he emailed us and said, you know, "I don't sing or anything - just make sure you get it right." So, that's been a big focus for us, getting it right, making sure that we're honestly portraying them. I mean, it is a parody, but we don't want to -- were not making fun of them.

BB: Now, what were the challenges behind -- I mean, there were some very specific things that made it kind of hard for you to actually cast a Hasidic Jew.

WB: Well, they can't listen to women sing.

AG: That would be a problem in a musical.

BB: I find that absolutely amazing -- all the different things you find out that you just had no idea about.

WB: Right, right. I mean, I think there's sort of a -- the voice, hearing the voice implies a certain kind of sexuality. So, somebody emailed us and he said, "I do sing, I'm really interested in this, but I went to your website, and I see that there are women in the show. So I cannot audition." So that was kind of something we faced. And also you -- he sings rock. It's a Hasidic Jew who sings rock 'n' roll.

AG: That's really cool. I think I wanna meet that guy anyway.

BB: Well, I mean you've got Matisyahu the rapper.

WB: Exactly! Exactly.

BB: Well, Allison, before we go on, do you want to sing the first number here for us?

AG: Sure.

BB: Does this need to be set up at all?

AG: Piper Paris just found out that her father cut her off from her trust fund because she's thirty years old. It's her birthday, her thirtieth birthday. And the gift they give her is no more financial backing. (laughs) So she's a little bit suicidal.

WB: And very neurotic.

AG: And very neurotic.

WB: And she really wants to eat at Peter Luger's.

AG: Yes.

WB: Which she has a reservation for, but now cannot pay for.

BB: And who's playing the guitar?

WB: Kurt Gellersted, the composer.

BB: All right, let's take a listen.

-------- Listen to "Peter Luger" from Williamsburg! The Musical on Vol 122 of Broadway Bullet ----------

BB: Alison, how did you get involved with Williamsburg?

AG: I basically saw the casting call in Back Stage, and thought it was amazing, and I was like, "Oh, I have to, I just have to go out for this." And it was right on, it was hilarious, and I'm just so proud to be a part of it. It's really funny. I'm really excited.

BB: How much time do you spend in Williamsburg?

AG: Not a lot, because it's too cool for me. (laughter) And it's really sad when you reach a point where you have to admit: "I'm too poor to be a hipster.'" And that's very true. What is this world coming to when you can't afford to be Bohemian? (laughs)

WB: But I've lived there for a while.

AG: But that's what makes it so hilarious.

WB: I spent a lot of time there with my collaborators just because --

BB: You're not being dismissive enough towards me.

AG: Whatever. I'm cool. Whatever, man.

BB: So what are some of the top things you like to skewer about Williamsburg?

AG: The fashion is just amazing and -- see, I'm from the South, where most of the stuff that they buy for $150 are twenty-five cents at a yard sale, so it's really fun to explore this kind of culture.

BB: And Will?

WB: What was the question?

AG: Whatever, we don't care! (laughs)

BB: What are some of the things you like to skewer about Williamsburg?

WB: Well, I mean, the whole real estate thing was a big part of it, which we talked a little bit about, and there's a lot of things popping all over the place, there.

BB: What have rates jumped to in Williamsburg?

WB: I don't know, who even knows? Originally, you could walk down the street and --

BB: Just a few years ago they were paying you to go live in apartments there.

WB: Yeah, exactly. Well, they would have the bulletin boards set up where you would go, and pull numbers off to find a rental, and it used to be cool because you could walk down the street and go, "Oh, I'm looking for an apartment! Oh, here's a bunch!" And now, it's: you walk into this really hip real estate office, and if you want to buy, you know, a multimillion dollar condo, that's possible, and suddenly people's parents are buying those, and the corporate culture has moved out there, and it's just -- it's a different thing. Because the whole community was based on a working class, you know, it was built up by the working class. And now there's been a lot of issues because some of those people have been kicked out, or are struggling to keep their rent-controlled spaces, or whatever. So that's a big part of the show as well. And we're trying to do that in a comedic way, but it's also a very serious thing for the Puerto Rican culture and some of the Polish community that funnels over into Greenpoint -- there's real issues there. So, we really wanted to address that and, in turn, also kind of exploit the whole hipster --

BB: Aren't there garage sales now all of a sudden getting IPOs [Initial Public Offerings], though?

WB: The whole street's a garage sale! (laughter)

AG: Yeah.

WB: You walk down the street, you can get anything you want -- if it's from 1980, 1970-something -- it's like all the vintage, weird LPs you could ever wish for are out on the street and just -- weird chachkis.

AG: I almost bought an olive green toaster when I was there the other day.

WB: You did?

AG: Almost.

WB: Very vintage, very. Olive-green.

AG: Yeah. But it was like forty-five dollars.

WB: And why? Why pay for that?

BB: Well, should we bring in the group to sing the next number?

WB: Definitely.

AG: Oh yes, let's!

BB: So do you guys want to set this up for them? What do people need to know? Remember, a lot of our listeners don't know the L train.

WB: Well, the L train -- there's a stop on the L train which is the first one into Brooklyn, called Bedford Avenue. And that's where the frenzy of activity is happening. It's the cutural hotspot. And so, the song is called, "One Stop to Excitement," which means there's one stop to the city, and there's also one stop to Bedford. It takes -- it should take about five minutes to get there, but it really doesn't because sometimes the train will just stop --

AG: In the middle --

WB: In the middle of the tunnel.

AG: Under the river.

WB: Under the river, the dirty East River. So they're singing about that process.

-------- Listen to "One Stop to Excitement" from Williamsburg! The Musical on Vol 122 of Broadway Bullet ----------

BB: Okay, so how long has Williamburg! The Musical been in development for you?

WB: It's been -- short. (laughs) Well, it started as a joke! I was working on another show with my collaborators, Kurt Gellersted and Brooke Fox. We've been working for about five years on another project that's almost finished, but they live in Williamsburg, and I used to live there around 2000/2001, so we're always over there, and we're walking around while we're collaborating, and we're always coming up with funny little tidbits and songs, and we kept writing them down, and laughing about them. And then, the Fringe deadline was approaching so we thought, This is really topical, it's pretty hot, maybe we should just put it out there, and see what happens. And then the acceptance came, and we said, "Oh, we've really got to get our shit in gear, and write this thing!" And so, that's what the process has been, putting this together for the Fringe Festival.

BB: All right, so how can people get tickets, where do they go, when is it, all that great stuff.

WB: The show dates are August 11th, 12th, 13th, 19th and 24th. It's playing at the Village Theater. If you go to FringeNYC.org and look under the show titles, you can look up Williamsburg! The Musical, and click on it -- they have a hyperlink that takes you to Ticketweb, and you can purchase your tickets that way. There's also Fringe Central, which is down on Carmine and Varick, and you can buy your tickets directly from them at the box office.

BB: Is there a way to text your way in? Because isn't that what all the Williamsburg people want to do now, just text on your phone?

AG: That's so five minutes ago.

WB: You can text me, and I can try to see what I can do. Yeah, where's the iPhone?

BB: All right, well, thanks so much for stopping down, and best of luck with the show.

WB: Thank you, Michael.

AG: Thank you!

 

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You can listen to this interview and many other great features for free on Broadway Bullet Volume 122. Subscribe for free so you don't miss an episode.

 

 or

MP3 Feed with XML

Photos: 1.) The Hipster (Allison Guinn), the Hasid (Evan Shyer) and the cast of Williamsburg! The Musical, photo by Jonathan Grey, 2.) Will Brumley, 3.) The cast of Williamsburg! The Musical, photo by Jonathan Grey


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