A love affair that has gone unrequited affects a soul so deeply, that it has lived in eternity with hope, until it’s final moment. Midnight at The Never Get opened last night at The York Theatre, and it has grown into a stirring performance by it’s star and co-conceiver Sam Bolen. I first saw this show at NYMF. Mark Sonnenblick’s deeply touching book, music and lyric’s allows you to follow the romance between Arthur (Jeremy Cohen) a songwriter and Trevor (Sam Bolen) his muse.
The show starts somewhere in the after life as Trevor is waiting for his love Arthur to show up. In the meantime a stand-in is playing Arthur allows us to see the past. Trevor leads us through the relationship starting with their first meeting at a bar in the Village. Trevor a flamboyant outgoing singer goes up to the shy talented songwriter Arthur. The pair not only become lovers, but start performing in a gay bar with a stage called “The Never Get.” Run by a transvestite named Sister Etcetera, this is a place where the homosexuals at the time could be themselves. Their act consists of singing songs where men sing songs of their love for men. This was in a time when this meant going to prison or worse. They record record demo’s but nobody will listen. As the duo gain popularity, the record demos and their act is finally heard by Columbia records. The record company wants Arthur, but he turns it down because saying they wanted to replace all the gay pronouns. Arthur who has not been happy with the way the gay movement has been going, starts to get work in Hollywood leaving Trevor behind. As Arthur becomes more and more successful Trevor tries to blot out the truth of what has truly transpired.
The show chronicles the gay movement from being arrested for just congregating, to Stonewall and the riots. Real places and facts intersect with human emotions and pain.
Mr. Bolen and Mr. Cohen, are incredibly talented. Mr. Sonnenblick score is catchy, smart, an homage to a time gone by and relevant to today. The script is touching, warm, real and moving especially in the end when he breaks our hearts. Mr. Bolen is a star channeling Liberace, Judy Garland and himself. In the first two songs his voice is a little strident and he pushes a little too much, but then he reaches his groove and things even out. What Bolen excels in, is charisma and acting. We see the vulnerability hidden underneath this “TADA” personality and it adds to the reality of what is really happening. Jeremy Cohen (he was the piano player in the Tyne Daly version of Master Class) as Arthur plays a great piano and provides the perfect foe to Bolen, yet he has his moments and we see the journey through each others eyes. When he bursts out the truth, it is that much more devastating because of his subtlety.
Max Friedman’s direction keeps us guessing and doesn’t try to trivialize the emotions that are bound to affect an audience.
The orchestra led by Mr. Cohen on piano, Josh Bailey on Drums, Robert Pawlings on Bass, Brian Krock on Reeds (Alto Sax, Clarinet and Flute), David Neves on Trumpet and Nick Grinder on Trombone are all first rate.
Midnight at the Never Get is sure to be a cult hit like Hedwig.
Midnight at the Never Get: The York Theatre, 619 Lexington Ave, until Nov. 4th.