In the hidden back room of a 1960s Greenwich Village bar is the stage for a past, hidden love at the center of Midnight at The Never Get now streaming from Signature Theatre. Trevor, a colorful and campy singer, and Arthur, a coy and talented songwriter, are trying to climb the ladder of the NYC night club scene while navigating the dangers of being gay men in a time when their love and the music they wanted to create was illegal. Told through the memories of Trevor, this vibrant and poignant musical (book, music, and lyrics by Mark Sonnenblick) follows the Friday night performances of their act of love, identity, and belonging set to Arthur’s Cole Porter–esque tunes. Directed by Matthew Gardiner, this night club musical combines the shmaltz of a cabaret with the pull of a Eugene O’Neill play to create something truly transporting, all from the comfort of your own home.
Literally taking center stage as Trevor was Sam Bolen. With a sharp, charismatic tenor, Bolen’s Trevor bursts from the screen with the first note of “The Mercy of Love.” A delightful mixture of charm, camp, and heart (fully on display in the toe-tapping “Why’dya Hafta Call It Love?”), Bolen slowly unveiled the story. What started off as merely night club banter quickly evolved into the memories Trevor wanted to replay again and again in his mind. His honest and earnest innocence in trying to create the perfect show, the perfect night, was a dueting foil to the larger-than-life stage personality he so smoothly flowed in and out of as the plot progressed.
Accompanying him, quite literally, was Christian Douglas. The person off whom Trevor’s spirit and buoyant enthusiasm reflected, Douglas balanced that pure energy with a subdued but intense confidence. With a crooner voice that tripped as silkily as he played, Douglas was a grounding force from his seat at the piano. In “The Bells Keep Ringing,” you grin at his playfulness, and in “When It’s Spring Again,” your heart (and Trevor’s) melted a little more with each note. But it was his change as he found success that really took me by surprise, in a good way. As the story—and the memories—moved steadily onward, Douglas’s performance developed sharper and sharper edges until it cut. Paired with the unraveling confidence of Trevor, the room slowly becomes unbalanced.
Entering into this fray in a particularly touching moment was Bobby Smith as an older Trevor. Wearier and less confident than his 27-year-old self performing at The Never Get, Smith matched the quirkiness and heart of Bolen’s Trevor almost seamlessly. In his performance of “A Little Less to Lose,” his wavering and wiser tenor reminisced on life gone by.
A beautiful piece from start to finish, this production of Midnight at The Never Get captured the intimacy of a small act and made you feel like you were actually sitting in the room. Key to this was the musical direction by Angie Benson, which found a rhythm between the lighthearted and the heartbreaking that flowed effortlessly. Dramatic lighting by Adam Honoré was a triumph that played superbly on screen, and the costuming of Frederick P. Deeben was classic but with enough flair that highlighted the character’s core. Enhanced by the sound design of Ryan Hickey and the orchestration by Adam Podd, this production was built on a series of musical moods that transitioned one into the next like a winding road inviting you further along for the ride.
There isn’t one among us who hasn’t been tempted to go back to moments in our past and relive the memories again and again as if to never leave. Such is the desire rooted in the heart of this touching musical from Signature Theatre. Funny and sad and charming and lonely, Midnight at The Never Get invites us to sit and stay awhile in the memories of musical connection and defiant love. And after a year of reminiscing on times gone by in our own pandemic lives, it was nice to share these 90 minutes wrapped in music and hope.
Running Time: 90 minutes
Midnight at The Never Get presented by Signature Theatre is available to stream from April 30 through June 21 in HD on Marquee TV. Single stream tickets are available to purchase for $35 at SigTheatre.org. The show will be available to stream for 72 hours after patron’s initial viewing has begun. Closed Captioning and an audio described version will be available in English.
Starring Sam Bolen and Christian Douglas and featuring Bobby Smith
Book, music, and lyrics by Mark Sonnenblick with conception by Sam Bolen, Max Friedman, and Mark Sonnenblick.
Directed by Matthew Gardiner
Music Direction by Angie Benson
Costume Design by Frederick P. Deeben
Lighting Design by Adam Honoré
Sound Design by Ryan Hickey
Orchestrations by Adam Podd
Casting by Kelly Crandall d’Amboise
Production Coordinator Kerry Epstein
Filmed by Chiet Productions
Dirctor of Photography Justin Chiet
Associate Producer/Editor James Gardiner, with assistant editing by Natalie Ridgley
The Mercy of Love
The Bells Keep Ringing
Too Late for Me
Why’dya Hafta Call It Love?
I Cannot Change the Way I Am
Dance with Me
I Prefer Sunshine
I Rely On You
When It’s Spring Again
A Little Less to Lose