Real NY moments are never planned. They happen upon you totally and completely by accident. Which is part of what makes them – and this city – so magical. And also sometimes really gross, but that’s a different type of surprise for a different type of post …probably one deep into the hot, approaching summer.
Back to the magic. This past weekend, on what was supposed to be a typical ladies night with just dinner and drinks, we tried something a little different. We didn’t plan anything. No reservations, no time table. This is a dangerous game to play, especially in the west village of Manhattan on a Saturday night. But it will always make for a great story and this night was no exception.
The first restaurant the five of us tried on this daring adventure, was a little French spot called Bobo. We walked in, fully expecting to be turned away as we approached a hostess fully planning on turning us away when, by the grace of something amazing, she realized at that very moment a round table for exactly five people had cleared and no parties of five (save us) were waiting. I know you think my magical NY moment should stop there, but – lucky for you – it does not.
After a long and delicious french meal, complete with a few martinis each, we started to head home in our various directions when my genius friend asked if we’d ever been to a place called Marie’s Crisis? Thinking it was “just another bar,” we mumbled no and continued our wrap up of the evening. I call my friend a genius, because she kept pressing and forced us to give it a try. It was a “musical theater – singalong – piano bar!!” she exclaimed. She had us at musical theater singalong.
When you think – musical theater singalong bar – you think of a place where everyone can be a star. Where you can sing your heart out, like no one is watching. Or listening. A place where all of your favorite songs – the ones you keep secret on your ipod – are not just played, but are played so that you may sing your very loudest in front of and along with dozens of people who ALSO know all the words. A place where One Day More from Les Mis is played and you get to be Eponine, Jean Valjean AND Marius…
At least that’s what I think. And that is exactly what an experience at Marie’s Crisis Cafe is like. Along with everything else amazing in NYC, this unique experience is tucked away down below in a non descript building, invisible to those who don’t know about it. The seatless room is tiny, the ceiling is low, the piano is old and the people are happy. You can’t request anything of the pianist – and definitely don’t let on if you don’t know a song… but no worries at Marie’s Crisis Cafe – if you stay long enough your song will be played. Along with Maybe and You’re Never Fully Dressed, from Annie or Suddenly Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors, or a medley from Grease…Cabaret…
Another unspoken rule: when the people start shushing, it doesn’t mean you stink… it means a solo from a waiter and/or regular is coming on. The star of our evening was a man in a yankees jersey and a backwards hat singing a tear inducing version of Bring Him Home from Les Mis.
Maybe it was the martini’s I drank before entering Marie’s Crisis Cafe, but I hadn’t smiled that wide in a long time. A person from every single walk of life, ethnicity and age was crammed in this little space. No pushing and shoving and no bad attitudes. A few divas, but hey… it’s a musical theater singalong bar.
I was proud of my crazy city that night. If I had seen that yankee jersey wearing man walking on 7th avenue during the day, I would have never in a million years thought he even knew Les Mis, let alone could make me cry with his Jean Valjean interpretation.
In case I had forgotten, this night proved that NYC literally has something for everyone. A place where you really can be anything by day and the exact opposite of anything by night.