Least Embarrassing Place to Belt Out a Show Tune - 2009
Piano bars are dying faster than car dealerships, but Marie's Crisis carries on as a communal space for those who live for Cole Porter, kneel before Sondheim, and don't feel the slightest bit self-conscious about adopting a little girl's voice and chirping, "It's a Hard-Knock Life" from Annie in public (after a few cocktails, of course). The staff—pianists like Dexter, Jim, and Franca, and singing waitstaff like Maggie, Suzanne, and Andrew—keep the place as friendly and feisty as a show Mickey and Judy would have put on in Daddy's barn, if the barn had twinkly ceiling lights and a bar backed by a cloudy mirror. The ambience is like that of a cocktail party where you're the entertainment, and you gladly oblige, croaking out standards while adopting the proper accents (for My Fair Lady and Oliver!) and character attitude (for A Chorus Line and Chicago) when the occasion calls for it. Your generous act of rhythmic emoting connects you to the roomful of slap-happy strangers, and it almost ends up feeling like a credit you can add to your résumé. And look who your co-stars are! One night, songwriter Jerry Herman dropped by, and the pianist acknowledged his presence by playing a plaintive tune from Mack & Mabel. Earlier this year, drop-ins Drew Barrymore and Justin Long were so turned on by the show tunes that they started wildly making out. Only here is Gypsy an aphrodisiac! But try to avoid the weekends, when drunken bachelorettes demand way too much Mary Poppins and The Little Mermaid. And on any night, be sure to bring some singles to put in the pianists' fishbowl, especially if you want to request something. And if you want to request something current, be sure to bring twenties.