5 October 2014
Reviewed by Debbie Tasker
On Sunday night myself, mum and aunty were lucky enough to be invited to The Simon & Garfunkel Story at the Plaza Theatre in Stockport. Me and my aunty, I have to admit, are anoraks when it comes to any genre of music, her so much so she is still DJ’ing (and very good at it) aged 61 so we were very excited.
The show tells the story of the talented folk/rock duo from their early days when they performed under the name of Tom and Jerry up until the Central Park concert.
Dean Elliot as Paul Simon and Johnny Smarts as Art Garfunkel are nothing short of marvellous. They have obviously studied the pair and have mannerisms, facial expressions and how they performed off to a tee. Johnny Smart has even had his hair permed (at least I think it is a perm) for the part – that’s what you call dedication! Both have voices that blend together and make you feel that you are actually listening to Simon and Garfunkel themselves.
All the hits are included and some of their work I hadn’t heard before. They kick off with The Sound of Silence and then start the story in 1957 when the duo were teenagers. Throughout the evening there is a screen showing mainly black and white photos of American history at the time each album was released along with images of the pair and the actual album covers. It made it even more interesting and kept your attention.
After the break it was the newer material that I am more familiar with. The second act starts with a film reel of Mrs Robinson as they enter the stage again and begin to sing the well-known song from the film. It is very easy to follow the story behind their fame as both Elliott and Smart are very informative. We all learnt something… Bridge Over Troubled Water was the best-selling album of 1970, 1971 and 1972 – who knew! The hits flowed from the catchy I Am a Rock and Hazy Shade of Winter to the haunting Cathy’s Song, Bookends and Scarborough Fair and the more upbeat Cecillia and 59th Bridge Song (feeling groovy)and one of my favourites Homeward Bound.
The backing band were also fantastic and everybody worked well together and seemed to be having fun.
For the finale Johnny Smart sang Bridge Over Troubled Water. It was honestly pitch perfect and I had a lump in my throat when he finished, I turned to my aunty and we both mouthed WOW at the same time. We all agreed that were pretty sure Art himself couldn’t have performed it that well live, yes he was that good. The closing number was The Boxer and Dean Elliott put is all into ending the night on a high. He succeeded we absolutely adored it.
I couldn’t fault anything the whole production is excellent.
The Stockport Plaza is a beautiful building. It has recently been refurbished but having not visited the theatre before I can’t comment on what changes have been made. We were sat in the stalls row D and could see the stage clearly. The ceiling and walls are impressive and the whole theatre has a lovely homely feel. Staff were very smart helpful and polite. As the show came to a close the house lights came up slightly and a stunning band of light came on around the stage, something I have never seen before. I will look forward to visiting there again hopefully in the near future.
The Simon & Garfunkel Story is currently on tour around the UK. For more information, tour dates or to book tickets at a venue near you visit www.thesimonandgarfunkelstory.com.
For other show at the Plaza Theatre in Stockport visit www.stockportplaza.co.uk.
The Plaza, Mersey Square, Stockport, Cheshire. SK1 1SP | 0161 477 7779