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BWW Review: MARIE'S CRISIS - The Piano Bar Where, Ironically, NOBODY Is In Crisis Mode... Only Giddy And Content

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A trip down to the West Village proves to be a fabulously fun night out with a crowd of strangers acting like best friends.

BWW Review: MARIE'S CRISIS - The Piano Bar Where, Ironically, NOBODY Is In Crisis Mode... Only Giddy And Content

Two handsome men crossing Grove Street called out to the young women standing in line behind us, and the ladies called back to them in sassy conversation. This wasn't a case of two mashers hitting on strange women in the West Village, though it may have appeared so, to passersby.

"Those are our boyfriends," explained one of the ladies. "They didn't want to come with us to Marie's Crisis, so we told them to go find something else to do for the next couple of hours because WE are going to Marie's Crisis!"

BWW Review: MARIE'S CRISIS - The Piano Bar Where, Ironically, NOBODY Is In Crisis Mode... Only Giddy And Content It was a devoted group of people on Friday night that felt the same way; most of them stood in that line for a not-insignificant amount of time, passing the minutes with good-natured chatter, some social media postings, meeting strangers who also had a mission to get into the club, and enjoying the nighttime sky of the summer. Eventually, everyone possessing of patience and determination was ushered down the steps and into the hundred-plus-year-old establishment. Festively decorated with what can honestly only be called Christmas tree lights, framed reproductions of photos of Broadway musical theater divas, and Gay Pride flags, Marie's Crisis is a true-blue, bonafide dive bar... and everyone loves it. It has been said that Disney is the happiest place on earth, but after spending even a little bit of time at the famed piano bar, one could easily argue that Disney and Marie's Crisis are neck-and-neck in the happiness department. What could be more fun than booze and show tunes bonding together a basement full of strangers? Yeah, that's right: practically nothing... maybe puppies.

BWW Review: MARIE'S CRISIS - The Piano Bar Where, Ironically, NOBODY Is In Crisis Mode... Only Giddy And Content For ninety minutes my friend and I enjoyed the Marie's Crisis experience, one that included some quiet time seated at the bar enjoying attentive service (although this teetotaler would really have enjoyed an icy O'Doul's the establishment doesn't do alcohol-free beer) and a good visit with one another; there is an off-chance that one of us was flirting with someone on the other side of the room, but what happens at Marie's Crisis... as the saying goes. During our time perched on our stools talking, we had a perfect view of the main room of Marie's Crisis and what we witnessed there was a room that was wall-to-wall with people singing "Memory" and "Forty Second Street," a large selection of songs from "Hairspray," and an even larger set of songs from a musical neither of us knew. Each and every song sung by the room full of friends and strangers was sung in full voice, like a choir auditioning at Carnegie Hall... or at least the Central Park Bandshell, usually in harmonies, sometimes with a choir director who was leading the patrons of the bar like he was rehearsing kids for the big competition. Friends old and new clung to one another, toasted each other, and laughed as they threw back their drinks and their collective heads, in performance. Such happiness all around is contagious. Eventually, my pal and I left our barstools to get closer to the action, but before joining in on mini-musical presentations from the scores of "Annie" and "Cabaret" and "Mary Poppins" we were treated to something truly special that, one suspects, represents a major appeal of hanging out at Marie's Crisis: a solo performance by one of the staff members.

BWW Review: MARIE'S CRISIS - The Piano Bar Where, Ironically, NOBODY Is In Crisis Mode... Only Giddy And Content The piano bar community is made up of hugely talented singing (and piano playing!) artists who have spent time on stages and in orchestra pits and in recording studios and many other places where musical craftspeople make their art and make their living. In between those gigs, the piano bars are where they make their home and make their rent, and though one may have seen them in the act on a stage somewhere, it is a very different experience than seeing them in action in a dive bar - taking orders, serving drinks, being friendly, being bouncers... in other words, handling every curveball that is thrown their way when working in an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages. It is their job to entertain and to be hospitable, but it is also their job to keep things under control and keep people safe... and to sing, and all of it at the same time. The team on duty at Marie's Crisis last week was an impeccable representation of what a piano bar staff should be like, each one accommodating, respectful, playful, and protective, so the vibe was already ahead of the curve. When, however, New York nightlife staple Jennifer Pace set down her serving tray and climbed up to sit, lotus style, on Brandon James Gwinn's piano bar, it was a foregone conclusion that something marvelous was about to happen. One suspects that when Jennifer and Brandon are in a room with a piano, something marvelous will always happen.

BWW Review: MARIE'S CRISIS - The Piano Bar Where, Ironically, NOBODY Is In Crisis Mode... Only Giddy And Content

First guiding the (miraculously) quieted clientele through a brief meditation to relax them, then introducing her composer (Gershwin) by suggesting that "If you know this song and want to sing along... don't," the sweet-voiced and lovable faced Ms. Pace kept the patrons quieter still, attentive, and happy, as she sang, perfectly, to the throng, making each person believe the song was just for them, engaging all in the task of providing percussion, by way of finger snaps, and acknowledging through her attitude and vernacular that Marie's Crisis is a fun, family place for people to relax, commune, maybe drink a bit much or flirt rather a lot, and sing a song or fifty-seven. It was a magical New York moment, the kind you long for when you leave your house in the morning, but only get a few times a year. Like your favorite sassy sister and your best Guncle, Pace and Gwinn, and the entire Marie's Crisis team led these musical theater devotees deep into the night with their good will, great service, and a cornucopia of musical delights. It was easy to see why so many flock to the watering hole and center of music - it's a little slice of history, both New York and nightlife - and it's worth standing in line for... and it's certainly worth not ditching your girlfriends for a drab night drinking beer on a routine pub crawl. Shame on those boys.

They don't know what they were missing.

Visit the Marie's Crisis website for more information HERE.

Visit the Jennifer Pace website HERE

Visit the Brandon James Gwinn website HERE.

BWW Review: MARIE'S CRISIS - The Piano Bar Where, Ironically, NOBODY Is In Crisis Mode... Only Giddy And Content

BWW Review: MARIE'S CRISIS - The Piano Bar Where, Ironically, NOBODY Is In Crisis Mode... Only Giddy And Content

BWW Review: MARIE'S CRISIS - The Piano Bar Where, Ironically, NOBODY Is In Crisis Mode... Only Giddy And Content

BWW Review: MARIE'S CRISIS - The Piano Bar Where, Ironically, NOBODY Is In Crisis Mode... Only Giddy And Content

BWW Review: MARIE'S CRISIS - The Piano Bar Where, Ironically, NOBODY Is In Crisis Mode... Only Giddy And Content

BWW Review: MARIE'S CRISIS - The Piano Bar Where, Ironically, NOBODY Is In Crisis Mode... Only Giddy And Content
For ease in identifying and tipping your servers.
BWW Review: MARIE'S CRISIS - The Piano Bar Where, Ironically, NOBODY Is In Crisis Mode... Only Giddy And Content
Always tip the servers!
BWW Review: MARIE'S CRISIS - The Piano Bar Where, Ironically, NOBODY Is In Crisis Mode... Only Giddy And Content
Always offer to be in the photo somebody is taking.

Photos by Stephen Mosher


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