Amy Moore speaks to Dean Elliott, who plays Paul Simon in The Simon and Garfunkel Story, which is currently touring the UK and worldwide
2015 marks 50 years since Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel recorded their first number one hit, The Sound of Silence.
Following West End success at the Leicester Square Theatre in February 2015, The Simon and Garfunkel Story celebrates the lives and career of the two young boys from Queens, who grew to become one of the world’s most iconic music duos.
The Simon and Garfunkel Story transports audience members through the songs and stories that shaped the band, featuring such hits as Mrs Robinson, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Homeward Bound, Scarborough Fair, The Boxer and The Sound of Silence,amongst others. The show combines 1960s photos and film footage, whilst a live band performs.
Dean Elliot stars as Paul Simon in The Simon and Garfunkel Story, famed as former lead Bully Holly in Buddy – The Musical. An avid Simon and Garfunkel fan, Dean trained at Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) and is a keen musician.
Nowadays, Dean directs (alongside David Beck) and provides musical supervision for The Simon and Garfunkel Story.
Tell us about The Simon and Garfunkel Story (2:35)
I created the show. I was doing Buddy – The Musical in London’s West End for many years, and I wanted to do something fairly similar. I wanted a rock and roll biopic and a story that hadn’t been told before.
People really like the music of Simon and Garfunkel, but their story hadn’t been told yet.
I’m a massive fan of Simon and Garfunkel, so I was keen to produce a show that told that story. We have a video projector behind us during the show that tells the story of Simon and Garfunkel, as well as the bigger story that includes the era from which they came; the 1960s.
The Simon and Garfunkel Story really is a trip down memory lane. It’s the fascinating story of two best friends, featuring some of the best songs ever written.
Where’s your favourite place you’ve performed? (0:33/1:23)
I think we’ve already done about 80 shows this year. We did a concert hall tour of Scotland. We sold out Glasgow Royal Concert Hall at 2,500 people.
That was probably our favourite. It was the most nerve-racking, that’s for sure.
Tonight (July 31), we play at Gawsworth Hall, which is a beautiful old home. Tomorrow (August 1), we play at Kilworth House, which is another outdoor venue.
What inspired you to create The Simon and Garfunkel Story? (3:38)
The inspiration came when I was doing Buddy – The Musical. I just wanted to create something that was like Buddy – The Musical, a story that hadn’t been told.
A friend once said to me when I was talking about the music of Simon and Garfunkel – ‘Were they friends? Were they not friends? Did they fall out? That is a question no one really ever knows.
It was very exciting to see it all come together, selling out around the country and around the world.
How did you make the show as true as possible to the story of Simon and Garfunkel? (4:47/5:46)
We live in an age where it’s very easy to get information online, through video and audio. I’ve read a few books, like biographies from the people who knew them.
We’ve just tried to create as much information about the duo as possible, and put it together in a theatrical setting. Thankfully, it all came together and people really enjoy it.
We were in the West End this year. We finished in February. It was an absolute joy to bring the show into London. We closed in the West End, and the next day we went on our concert hall tour of Scotland.
How long has The Simon and Garfunkel Story been on tour? (9:24)
We’ve been touring for over a year. We’ve been to Africa, we’ve been around Europe and we’re off to South Africa later this year. It’s quite amazing really.
We’re looking into ways of getting The Simon and Garfunkel Story into London for a long period of time. We’d like to have a residency there for a few months. Watch this space, I guess.
Talk us through the character of Paul Simon (11:28/12:46)
Simon and Garfunkel very much grew up together. They met when they were at primary school. The Simon and Garfunkel Story is very much about their friendship and their relationship.
Paul Simon wanted to be a ‘rock and roller,’ but he was quite little – five foot four, I believe. He didn’t have the dashing good looks of Elvis, or the stage charisma. There’s very much a battle with Paul Simon. He always looked to do things more heavy and edgy, and I think that comes across in his song writing.
There’s quite a lot of footage of Paul Simon. When you’re portraying a real person, you have to do your homework. You need to knuckle down and make sure that your mannerisms are similar to someone. That person is a hero to many generations of people. They don’t want to see something comical; they want to see something real on stage.
How did you prepare for the role? (13:09)
I was quite fortunate to have already played an existing hero as Buddy Holly. It’s the same, just make sure you knuckle down and get it right. You’re not creating a new character.
How do you think The Simon and Garfunkel Story captures the essence of the era? (14:09)
Through their song writing; their voices are very iconic, and their imagery and the whole production of them is very iconic. Paul Simon is like a musical sponge.
He took a little bit from British folk singing; he took stuff from the rock and roll era of the 1950s and from the Southern states, like Americana from the 1940s. He was listening to the new movement of the time, which was Greenwich Village in the 1960s. Paul Simon put it all together, wrapped it in a nice bow and he created his sound; the Simon and Garfunkel sound. I do believe that he is one of the best songwriters and lyricists of all time.
How did you work to make The Simon and Garfunkel Story known? (15:16)
We have a team of people who look after all our bookings. We’ve done a few private bookings. We’ve done a few functions in the past that have always gone down well.
Lots of people come back. I just saw a man who saw us in Crewe. He’s very keen to see us perform again.
What do you see for the future of The Simon and Garfunkel Story? (15:38)
There are lots of places we haven’t been. We’re off to Australia next year. We’re off to New Zealand. So, we’re very much looking forward to performing worldwide.
What can groups expect from The Simon and Garfunkel Story? (15:57)
I would say a West End-style performance piece pulling together incredible live performances and a trip down memory lane.
The Simon and Garfunkel Story is currently touring until December 2015.
The Simon and Garfunkel Story is available for private bookings and events. To book, call 07881583102 or email email@example.com. Contact individual venues for group rates. For more information visit www.thesimonandgarfunkelstory.com.