Christian-Douglas-and-Sam-Bolen

There is a wonderful thing that sometimes, albeit not too often, happens in the theatre. A show begins, be it a musical or play, and within minutes you are swept off your feet and madly in love with what you are watching. Such was my good fortune Sunday evening as I settled down on my couch and logged onto The Signature Theatre’s streaming performance of MIDNIGHT AT THE NEVER GET. The title sounds odd but it makes perfect sense as you will soon see.
Midnight at the Never Get PosterThe story is told by Trevor Copeland (Sam Bolen) with songs written by Arthur underscoring the emotional moods and events of their lives. Trevor is, among other things, a hopeless romantic. It’s 1965 and Trevor is a young singer newly arrived in New York having run away from a very rural American hometown and a future that for him was unthinkable. At a piano bar, he meets Arthur Brightman (Christian Douglas) who is tickling the ivories with some of the songs he has written. Trevor is immediately smitten with both the man and his music and the two start both a romantic and professional relationship. They start to perform together and with the help of vocal lessons for Trevor and some love-inspired song writing by Arthur, the duo gets booked to perform at midnight in a club called The Never Get. After some debate, they decide to call the act Midnight….hence the title MIDNIGHT AT THE NEVER GET (see, I told you it would make sense.) As time goes by, a rift begins to form between the two of them. Trevor wants nothing more than to go on and on as they were with Arthur writing songs for Trevor to sing at the club. But Arthur is far more career driven and at times seems almost Machiavellian in his pursuit of success. It’s not long before he is commuting between the coasts with the Los Angeles stops getting longer and longer until one day he no longer returns to NYC. Despite the passing of decades, Trevor never lets go of the belief that Arthur is still in love with him just as he is with Arthur. It’s a bittersweet ending with a song sung by the older Trevor (Bobby Smith) wondering if things would have been different if he had loved just a little less.
This is a love story between two men. But it is in no way an exclusively gay story. The ups and downs, the soaring happiness and deeply felt sorrows experienced by Trevor and Arthur are universal. They are the very heart of every love story ever written. The fact that they are gay in no way excludes anyone from being able to identify with the emotional ups and downs these two men face and that is no easy task to accomplish. Bravo!
The score by Mark Sonnenblick (who also wrote the excellent book) is a wonderful pastiche of 1960’s style ballads and ‘feel-good’ songs. What makes the score truly great is that each and every song is a reflection of actions or emotional reactions to their lives. They are at once generic enough to be in a cabaret act and at the same time pinpointed enough to fully flesh out these characters in the best musical theatre techniques. The songs run the gamut from moving ballads like “Too Late For Me,” to the unbridled happiness of “The Bells Keep Ringing” and “I Prefer Sunshine.”
Brilliantly staged by Matthew Gardiner, scenes flow in a seamless cinematic style never letting the momentum slow down even for a moment. The scenic design (Uncredited), in a minimalistic but evocative way, beautifully conveys the intimate feel of a small cabaret club in Greenwich Village. The entire evening is artfully lit by Adam Honore, conveying not only different locations but the varying timber of emotions.
This is a musical that made such a strong impression on me, I watched it a second time! I urge you to take 90 minutes out of your day and go to Sigtheatre.org and buy a ticket. The show runs now- June 21, 2021.