From April 30 – June 21, 2021, Signature Theatre will virtually present “Midnight at the Never Get” with book, lyrics, and music by Mark Sonnenblick and conceived by Sam Bolen, Max Friedman, and Mark Sonnenblick. The show is directed by Matthew Gardiner. It stars Sam Bolen, Christian Douglas and Bobby Smith.
The playas first presented in April 2015 with the name “Midnight at the Rialto.” It then was produced by Don’t Tell Mama and had its limited run extended. In 2016, the production received rave reviews at the New York Musical Festival, with sold out performances.
The show features some sultry music and takes us back to a gay romance in 1965 when such relationships were illegal. In the backroom of a bar in Greenwich Village, the lovers, Trevor Copeland and Arthur Brightman, put on a show called “Midnight.” Arthur writes the love songs for Trevor to perform. The plot follows their relationship through the 60s as the Gay Rights Movement explodes and affects the men’s relationship.
I had a chance to catch up with Christian Douglas who plays Arthur. Douglas has also just produced an album, “Inside Voice.” It is self-released through CD Baby and can be ordered at christiandouglasmusic.com. The recording is also available via Amazon Music, iTunes, Spotify, and all other streaming platforms.
Christian Douglas is a multifaceted singer, songwriter, and theater performer. Like flipping a switch, he can go from performing “Nessun Dorma” for the President of Italy at the White House, to appearing as Jack Kelly in “Newsies;” to belting “Uptown Funk” with a wedding band and singing his soulful, original music. Christian’s diverse vocal skills have made him a sought-after performer in the D.C. area, appearing in musicals and cabarets at Arena Stage and Signature Theatre, as well as in nationally-televised concerts with the American Pops Orchestra.
Christian discovered his love of music as a young child through the piano and later through his voice in middle school choir. Around the same time, he began to explore the world of songwriting, putting his youthful emotions into written verse and searching the keys for the harmonies and melodies that would become the seeds for his first songs. His love of songwriting has been an artistic thread and consistent companion, alongside his study and focus on vocal and theatrical performance. He studied classical singing at the University of Maryland and, upon graduating, he auditioned and won a spot as a tenor in the United States Army Chorus, where he spent four years singing for dignitaries, presidents, and foreign leaders.
Though classically-trained, Christian has been rewarded for his pursuit and love of other vocal styles. In 2018, he was awarded one of the top prizes in the prestigious, international Lotte Lenya Vocal Competition and was a finalist in the American Traditions Vocal Competition the following year. In 2019, as he prepared to leave the Army, Christian began to audition for musical theater productions in the D.C. area, quickly garnering attention from Tony Award-winning regional theaters like Arena Stage and Signature Theatre. In his first professional production, he understudied and went on as the leading role of Jack Kelly in “Newsies” at Arena Stage. He was then featured in the world premiere production of “Gun & Powder” at Signature Theatre, with the acclaimed Broadway director Robert O’Hara. Christian is currently featured in Signature Theatre’s 2020-2021 digital season in the Signature Vinyl concert and in the Off-Broadway hit, “Midnight at the Never Get,” premiering in April 2021.
In recent years, Christian has come into his own as a singer-songwriter. In 2018, he released his debut EP of original music, “Lonely Paradise,” and in 2019 he was selected as a featured Artist-in-Residence at Strathmore Music Center. As part of this residency, he curated two full-length concerts of original music and was commissioned to premiere a new body of work.
Christian released his first full-length album of original music, “Inside Voice,” on Friday, March 26, 2021 which features a melting pot of styles, genres, and sounds to reflect how far our hearts and minds can travel when our physical bodies are stuck inside. The recording was created during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in Arizona, but moved to Virginia when I was 1, so the DMV has been my home for most of my life. I spent my middle school and high school years in Towson, Maryland and went to University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. During my time in the Army, I lived just outside of D.C. in Arlington, Virginia. My first experience in musical theater was in college in the University of Maryland’s production of “Spring Awakening.” I had always had a love for musical theater (I used to listen to “The Sound of Music” soundtrack before I went to bed when I was young) and I really fell in love with the collaborative community that theater had to offer. I studied classical singing in college but always found a joy in “crossing over” and singing other styles, musical theater being one that I always gravitated toward.
Your music in your album “Inside Voice” seems to be a bit autobiographical and a bit social commentary. Do you use your music to express your beliefs and to reflect society?
My music has always been a way to communicate what is close to my heart. In writing this record during such a tumultuous and stressful time in the world and in America, it was inevitable that some of the songs would touch on what was and is happening in the world at large; emotional and physical isolation, intolerance, hate, and violence.
How did you record the album during this strange time?
I recorded the majority of the album from my bedroom. Nearly all the vocals were recorded in my apartment, as well as the piano, guitar and some midi interments and effects. For another large portion of the album, I was lucky enough to have my very talented friends and collaborators record themselves in their home studios. Everything from bass, drums, percussion, synth keyboard, lead and backup vocals were able to be recorded and incorporated remotely.
Which is your favorite song in the album?
My favorite song is “Square One.” To me, it is the most raw and honest song on the album in the way it speaks to a human need for escape. Whether it’s alcohol, social media, drugs, video games or food, we all have something we use avoid the hard things, and I think it is and was especially prevalent during the pandemic, being faced with so much uncertainty.
Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming role as Arthur in “Midnight at The Never Get” at Signature Theatre?
Arthur is the love interest, companion, and artistic partner of the main character, Trevor, through whom the story is told, in a cabaret style show, set in limbo. “Midnight at The Never Get” touches on many themes but, in short, it’s a play about finding love and acceptance for one’s self and stepping into what is, rather than clinging to what was. I was attracted to the challenge of this role as well as the familiarity it offered. As a piano player and songwriter, Arthur seemed like familiar shoes to fill, but the challenge came with the time constraints of learning the piano score as well as being able to sing and act at the same time, as if I had indeed written all the music I was playing. Signature Theatre kept us all safe during the process, adhering to CDC guidelines, testing every other day and maintaining a respectful work environment. Truly the biggest challenge was not getting to perform for an audience. In a piece of theater, there is so much energy exchange that happens from performer to audience and vice versa that we all took for granted before the pandemic. Without the applause between numbers and audience reactions, Sam (who played Trevor) and I relied on each other to keep the energy up and to keep things fresh and present.
“Midnight at the Never Get” is the third production in the Signature Features 2021 Season. The show streams on-demand from April 30 through June 21 in HD on Marquee TV. 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. For tickets, go to this link. Tickets are $35 dollars and will admit you to the virtual production. For more information about “Midnight at the Never Get” and Signature Theatre, go to their website.