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Protest-Friendly ‘Hipsters’ Dance With Midler to Put On Show

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"F*cking Hipsters"
Brandon Wardell and Heather Robb in "F*cking Hipsters" part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. The show has its final performance on Saturday at 1 p.m. Photographer: Bren Coombs/New York Musical Theatre Festival via Bloomberg

Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) -- “F*cking Hipsters” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival is so of-the-moment it could have been inspired by the Wall Street protests now in their third week. In truth, it was conceived a year ago.

A tuneful, comic concoction, it’s about an idealistic Brooklyn indie rock band encountering cynical greed that almost tears it apart.

“In our show, the community wins,” said book writer Keythe Farley (who also wrote “Bat Boy: The Musical”) in an e-mail. “I hope that will be true for our country as well.”

As the demonstrators camp out in Zuccotti Park a few blocks from the New York Stock Exchange, the show’s fictional band cohabitates in a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, loft.

No one captures the occupiers’ do-it-yourself ethos better than Brandon Wardell, who produced the musical, is the lead actor and plays guitar and ukulele in the fictional band. (Wardell also acted in and was among the producers of Broadway’s “Catch Me If You Can.”)

He and a producing partner, Randy Spence, invested some of their own savings toward the roughly $30,000 budget. They also raised $5,680 from 99 people via Kickstarter, the same Internet site through which “The Occupied Wall Street Journal” collected $55,000 and counting from contributors as of Friday afternoon. A few Broadway producers also chipped in.

West Coasters

Farley created “Hipsters” with fellow Los Angelenos Lori Scarlett and John Ballinger. Director and choreographer John Carrafa sat on the festival jury and helped select “Hipsters.” He said he liked it so much he decided to stage it himself.

Because actors are paid just $500 for the NYMF run, many missed rehearsals to take more lucrative gigs. Carrafa himself pulled a near-all-nighter before the first preview, choreographing Bette Midler in an Acura car commercial on Long Island.

“That’s how I make money, so I can do this,” he said.

Holly Coombs, associate producer, drove a U-Haul truck the morning of the first preview with instruments and sets from a Chelsea rehearsal studio to the theater on West 42nd Street.

“I’ve never driven in New York,” Coombs said. “I was terrified. Needless to say, I bought the $11 of insurance.”

Farley said the song “F*ck On!” was inspired by recent protests in Wisconsin. He’s in solidarity with the Wall Street protesters.

“If I hadn’t been so busy getting the show on its feet,” he said, “I’d have been down there marching with them.”

“F*cking Hipsters” is at 1 p.m. today at 555 W. 42nd St. Information: http://www.nymf.org.

To contact the writer of this column:

Philip Boroff in New York at pboroff@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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