After starring as Buddy Holly in Buddy – The Musical, Dean Elliott now turns his attention to the music of Simon & Garfunkel to mark their 50th anniversary.
The show plays The Brook in Southampton on Friday, May 2 (tickets on 023 8055 5366).
“The show is my baby really,” says Dean. “It was me and a small group of people who were doing Buddy – The Musical who thought we would like to do something similar, something on rock or pop or folk, make it high quality and have more story-telling. We have got huge screens on stage and rolling images to do that.
“I have always been a massive fan of Simon & Garfunkel. I was going through my CD collection and stumbled across them again, and I realised that I didn’t really know their story. I knew that they were best friends, and then they broke up. They were contrasting characters, but their story is very simple. You have got The Kinks and Oasis where the two people were brothers and they broke up, but this was different. Simon and Garfunkel were best friends, and they went right through from singing together at the age of 11 to becoming multi-millionaires. They went on to become the most successful singing duo of all time.
“Their time performing and working together started in the 1960s and ended at the end of the 60s. Bridge Over Troubled Water was like them saying ‘We have had this crazy decade in the 1960s, and now we are heading into the 1970s. What is the future going to bring?’
“The 1960s are well-documented, and a lot happened in that decade. We try to reflect that in the show. We try to tell the story of the 60s through the music. We take in Vietnam and the race riots, and we also point out what was happening over here in the UK. We take this simple story of these two best friends right the way through the 1960s, and then they didn’t perform together in the 1970s. They did their solo things. But really it was all about the invention of the teenager, the optimism of the post-war years.”
The show takes the story through to Simon & Garfunkel’s celebrated Central Park concert in New York in 1981: “We try to create that in the last 20 minutes through the music, just as in Buddy – The Musical, the show recreated Buddy’s last-ever concert.”
The duo have performed together again since, but as Dean says, they have never reformed – despite all the interest in them perhaps one day doing so.
“They are both in their 70s now. Questions about whether they are going to get back together quite often annoy them, I think!”
But the music remains: “The Beatles were writing songs, and you had all that optimism. And then Simon & Garfunkel really appealed to a thoughtful type of audience. When they first started, it was very much poetry with music, but the more I have researched Simon & Garfunkel and the more I have spoken to fans on the tour, the more I think that they were performers who really spoke to people. You hear people say that if it hadn’t been for Bridge Over Troubled Water, they wouldn’t have got through a certain period in their life, or that Simon & Garfunkel were the soundtrack to a particular relationship.
“They have an extremely-strong and faithful following, and the song-writing is phenomenal as well. They were doing the close-harmony singing, and when you hear them, you always know exactly who it is. They very iconic; they were thoughtful; and they wrote catchy songs.”
The show also plays the Kings Theatre, Southsea on Wednesday, June 4 (023 9282 8282); The Hawth Theatre, Crawley on Tuesday, June 10 (01293 553636) and G Live, Guildford on Wednesday, June 11 (0844 7701 797).