The Duplex in New York City
By PAM HARBAUGH
When locals head to New York City to take in theater, those in the know realize that the night isn’t over when the curtain comes down.
There are a few piano bars with an open mike for cast members from numerous shows to lay down a tune or two. Some of the more popular spots include the venerable Don’t Tell Mama on West 46th Street; Marie’s Crisis on 7th Avenue and Grove; The Duplex on Christopher Street; and Jim Caruso’s Cast Party at Birdland Jazz Club on West 44th Street.
Although a patron is not assured of a big name popping up on stage, there have been instances where big name Broadway stars show up..and sometimes the entire cast…and sing a few songs from a current show. It’s a good marketing and good fun.
Recently, Holly McFarland went to Facebook where she shared a video in which she was singing at the piano bar in the Rose & Crown Pub in Walt Disney World. Here’s that video (be sure to read more below it):
That begs the question: Doesn’t Brevard need a piano bar with an open mic where local stars of local shows can perform in a spontaneous fashion? Wouldn’t you love to see Steven Heron, or Rick Roach, or Margaret Cross, or Alvin Jenkins or Christine Manning Brandt, or Daniel Grest, or Johnathan Shepherd, or Rita Moreno, or Gregory Galbreath…oh dear, I’m going to get into SO much trouble. But you DO know what I mean, don’t you? Just go ahead and add names in your own mind as you read this.
I talked with Ms. Cross, who, when she was a professional actor in New York City, performed at Marie’s Crisis “quite a bit.” She said it’s not only a scrumptious treat to hear the established talent, it’s also a great way to showcase up and coming stars.
“It’s kind of a cool culture,” she said. “It’s a great way to network with people.”
But it’s a challenge for those organizing it. You need skilled pianists who also act as music directors and bouncers, she said, laughing. It’s best when the pianist organizes it in a way where you get a mix and then make one evening all Rodgers and Hammerstein, another evening all Stephen Sondheim, another evening all Stephen Schwartz, Cole Porter, etc.
Apparently, years ago, a group of open mic piano bar fans tried to get that going in downtown Melbourne. But it didn’t “take.”
“This is more than karaoke,” she said. “It’s theater music, no pop tunes or radio…You have to have people of a similar mind. enjoy show tunes.”
But I think that with the growth of Brevard’s theater scene, we’re ready for it. And, it would afford yet one more answer to the question “What do you want to do tonight?”
P.S. For a link to a list of New York City open mic piano bars, click here. And, Margaret Cross will perform her cabaret act, “No People Like Show People: From Music Hall to Vaudeville,” Oct. 24 and 25 at Cocoa Village Playhouse.