Marie’s Crisis (City of Quebec) JohnnyFox November 4, 2018 Cabaret, Music, Musicals, Reviews Marie’s Crisis – look it up, I’m not telling you how it got its name – is a Greenwich Village institution. Sometime whorehouse, now popular gay bar which from 8pm each evening plays nothing but show tunes and Disney movie songs for an enthusiastic crowd to sing along. Simple enough. But the piano bar idea never really caught on this side of the pond. Now, London producer Ray Rackham has imported Marie’s favourite pianists and bartenders for a week’s residence in the cellar bar beneath The City of Quebec, a gay bar for the older gentleman known popularly as ‘The Elephant’s Graveyard’, in a back passage near Marble Arch. Marie’s is unlike any gay bar you’ll have visited in Soho because the customers are friendly, men and women talk to each other, and it’s impossible to say who are the gays and who just helps out when they’re busy. Actress Jodie Jacobs told me ‘I love it here … I’m moving in. I even had a little cry.’ But did she want to do a solo and show off her undoubted musical theatre chops? ‘No, I’m just happy in the crowd’. That’s the fantastic spirit of Marie’s. There are no stars. Or maybe everyone’s a star because the London crowd certainly knew all the words and most of the singing was reasonably tuneful, until we had an Anfield moment at the crescendo of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. It’s a pretty faithful replica of the New York original – rainbow lights across the low ceiling, no microphones even for soloists, and a decent bar with friendly staff. I’d prefer an actual piano to the keyboard, and pianist Adam Michael Tilford had certainly shouted himself hoarse over the exuberance of the crowd. When we have had piano bars here – I’m thinking of Show Off one-nighters beneath Café Koha, or the defunct night at Green Carnation hosted by Vanity Von Glow – they’ve tended to attract an older crowd, but Marie’s caters for everyone from 18 t0 80, and both were definitely represented with chorus boys barely above drinking age and a balding chap hogging a favoured seat beside the piano doing descants and throwing out top C’s like he was Montserrat Caballe. There’s Cole Porter, and Gershwin, a wordy chunk of Hamilton and even the ubiquitous Mr Sondheim – but there’s as much Frozen, and Wicked and The Little Princess for those princesses who haven’t yet graduated onto Rodgers and Hart. If there’s backing for the event to go permanent early in 2019, it could be a new favourite venue for anyone who loves a show tune. I wonder how long before Cher shows up?