There are a lot of musicals currently, that create a story using a band’s hits to break up a story about their lives. Sometimes, in the case of Jersey Boys, this succeeds; sometimes it does not. It’s always a risk.
However, The Simon & Garfunkel Story (written and directed by Dean Elliott) isn’t trying to do that. It is simply two men, singing and playing the songs of Simon & Garfunkel, while telling their story. Philip Murray Warson may be billed as Paul Simon, but he’s not playing him, just his music; the same is true for Charles Blyth as Art Garfunkel.
Yet somehow they manage to capture the essence of these two boys from Queens through a performance that is mesmerising. Having grown up with their music through my dad, he was my partner in crime for this production. Singing along (quietly) to all of their music, he was blown away by how good the two performers were.
For they are as good as perfection in their performances. Supported by an excellent band, the two perform songs chronologically, with a commentary on the artists throughout their career. A screen (albeit very small) shows film and photographs of the artists, interspersed with adverts and pictures from across the decades. It’s simply staged, but this adds to the effect of the music and reminds us that Simon & Garfunkel were originally just two boys, one guitar.
What is nice, is that they don’t just play the classic hits that everyone knows, but others from their repertoire such as Hey, Schoolgirl, Leaves That Are Green and Tom & Jerry. But when they play the popular songs, the feet start tapping, the heads start nodding and the fingers start beating out the rhythm; the audience was hooked.
Bridge Over Troubled Water is not an easy song to perform, yet Blyth does an absolutely fantastic job, while I Am A Rock, The Sound of Silence and America are equally brilliant. My personal favourite – The Boxer – was their encore choice and it did not disappoint, with the audience rising to its feet and joining in.
Fans of the artists will not be disappointed as this is far more than a tribute act. It is an evening of pure joy.
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes
Photo: BETTY ZAPATA