Welcome to The Never Get, an illegal, after hours, slightly sleazy nightclub in Greenwich Village, mid-1960’s. Meet Trevor and his lover, Arthur. In Trevor’s afterlife perfect dream of “the way we were”, Trevor (Sam Bolen) is, in his dream and in real life, a handsome, silky smooth cabaret singer who is adored by Arthur (Christian Douglas), his songwriter and accompanist. In Trevor’s dream and in this smart, well-crafted musical, we watch and listen as these two fascinating young men sing and talk about falling in love and performing Arthur’s music in a variety of clubs and venues, until they happen upon The Never Get, where all the action takes place.
The music in this Signature Theatre filmed production streaming through June 21 is lovely, very Cole Porter/Jerry Hermann-esque. It’s easy to enjoy the witty book, music, and lyrics/conception by Mark Sonnenblick and ignore the reality of the two lovers’ situation. In fact, Sam Bolen’s voice is as silky smooth as suave Christian Douglas’s gorgeous piano accompaniments, which he plays onstage along with a five-piece orchestra led by Angie Benson (Music Director). In time, however, we begin to understand Trevor and Arthur’s perceived need to conform to the norm. The norm meaning that Arthur would have to change all his lyrics’ pronouns to ‘he and she’, rather than the ‘he and him’ which he will not stop writing.
Eventually, Arthur simply refuses to make nice, insisting on writing and performing the songs exactly the way he wrote them. All the while, Trevor is progressing somewhat in his voice training and career by going with the flow, while trying to convince Arthur to do the same. Meanwhile, Arthur is working on making a name for himself alone in Hollywood and elsewhere—without Trevor! And doing quite well, thank you. However, in a complete twist, Trevor learns Arthur has taken a wife, then another, and another. You can see where this situation is heading. Arthur will do anything to get ahead in his career, including denying who he really is. Trevor is stuck in New York and stalled in his career, but will never give up on Arthur’s love for him. Never.
During a period when Arthur is away, which is often, Trevor brightly and optimistically shares with the audience some examples of the kinds of successes his partner is having and one of them, a very peppy commercial, is played as an example. Who is doing the singing? Who else but Tracy Lynn Olivera, who masterfully sings all the parts in an Andrews Sisters’ sounding jingle advertising Laundramatics. But wait, one more fabulous actor, Bobby Smith, not only announces The Never Get numbers and does some voiceover narration, but he plays an older Trevor and lovingly sings a closing song that leaves you wanting more, more, MORE!
This period-perfect production, brilliantly directed by Matthew Gardiner, is a perfect showcase for the eclectic 60’s costumes by Frederick P. Deeben, a spruced-up The Never Get simple set with glorious lighting by Adam Honoré, and crystal clear sound by Ryan Hickey. Such are the perks of being dead. “You get to pick a memory,” Trevor tells us. “Make a little house out of it…and then stay as long as you like in your infinite moment, where you can be just like you were.” Or maybe more to the point, the way you WISH you’d been.
Before he closes the show, though, Trevor who has died, leaves us with a closing thought from Arthur, who has also died, “Don’t let the world shape your love, let your love shape the world.” And then he murmurs, “Your words, Arthur, you just never believed them.” For the record: Trevor, with his boyish looks and coltish behavior is an easy listen and Arthur, less extroverted, but equally as talented as a singer and pianist, make this beautiful, timeless love story and production a joy and a not-to-be-missed experience.
Tickets and Streaming Information:
Midnight at The Never Get from the Tony-winning Signature Theatre in Arlington, Va. Is streaming now through June 21 on Marquee TV. Tickets are on sale at SigTheatre.org for $35 per ticket.