Canal Street Online Manchester

50th Anniversary Simon and Garfunkel tour

50th Anniversary Simon and Garfunkel tour

Many of you wouldn't have been born when Simon & Garfunkel were a chart force in the 1960s but I bet you'll still know their songs. Mrs Robinson, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Sound of Silence... Only last year Paul Simon's Greatest Hits topped the UK album charts and, let us not forget, Art Garfunkel's late 70's weepie Bright Eyes!

The duo's folky/pop blend sold millions of albums worldwide and their music remains a staple of radio stations across the globe. 

The hit West End musical The Simon & Garkfunkel Story has played to over a quarter of a million people in over 50 countries so far and now the North West can enjoy the closest thing to an S&G reunion show you'll ever see. 

I spoke to the show's writer, producer and director Dean Elliott.

How do you go about casting two such well known artists. Is it about the look as much as the sound?

It's very much the sound first and the look second. The look is important though as we have to ensure that one of the chaps is happy having a Garfunkel perm! We're lucky to have seasoned musical performers Philip Murray Warson and Charles Blyth playing the leads.

Were they already familiar with the S&G catalogue?

Not really but now they're huge fans. I was born around the time of the duo's famous Central Park reunion concert in 1981 but like most people, I got to know the songs over the years as they're always on the radio. These are timeless, unforgettable tracks from the 1960s which is an era that is so loved.

Bridge Over Troubled Water has been covered to death! Do you ever get sick of hearing it?

Not at all actually. That song means so much to people. When it comes on I love watching our audiences reconnect with the memories they associate with it.

My favourite S&G track is The Boxer. What song gets the biggest reaction from the audience during the show?

Funnily enough, it's The Boxer. The audience has to wait until the end of the evening for it and they go wild when it comes on. 

Chief songwriter Paul Simon is notoriously touchy about anyone mistakenly assuming that the pair co-wrote the songs. Annie Nightingale once made that error and he practically terminated the interview. Have you had any reaction to your show from either Simon or Garfunkel?

That interview clip is often repeated! The last thing we want to do is upset anyone and everything in our show has been researched thoroughly. It was made easier by the fact that so much has been documented about the duo and can be found in the public domain. S&G are aware of the show but we've not directly heard anything from them yet. 

There are many musicals based around a classic artist's songbook. What was it about S&G that made you create this show?

I was working on Buddy The Musical and wanted to do a similar rock 'n' roll biopic about a classic act that hadn't been done before. As well as a love for their music, I found S&G's story fascinating. We tell a story about two best friends within the bigger story of the 1960s. We go from their humble beginnings as a duo called Tom and Jerry, right through to their massive success. We then look at their very dramatic, public falling out which is obviously an interesting angle. 

How tricky is it to incorporate the songs into the story without them feeling shoe-horned in?

The songs are performed in chronological order as it works well through their story so that part has been quite easy really. We also use a huge projection screen featuring photos and film footage from the era and we have a full, live band perform all the music. 

If you were selling the show to a potential audience member who didn't know S&G's work, how would you pitch it?

It's like going back in time and seeing S&G in their prime. It's immersed in the nostalgia of the 1960s and, as I suspect the duo will never perform together again live, offers the next best thing.

By Drew Tosh for Canal St Online


Stockport Plaza with tix here.

Thursday 19th July 2018



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