The internationally-acclaimed hit theater show ‘The Simon & Garfunkel Story’ heads to Red Deer Nov. 5th as part of its 45-city North American trek. The concert-style theater show chronicles the journey shared by the folk-rock duo, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.
The show - which runs at the Memorial Centre - tells the story from their beginnings as Tom & Jerry to their astonishing success as one of the best-selling groups of the ‘60s to their dramatic split in 1970.
It also wraps with the famous ‘The Concert in Central Park’ reunion in 1981 that attracted more than half a million fans.
Ryan M. Hunt, who plays the part of Garfunkel, notes that in his view, the enduring magic of Simon & Garfunkel’s music stems from both its simplicity and its profound nature.
As for capturing the ‘essence’ of Garfunkel, Hunt said it’s about melding his own take on the famous singer’s style with his personal musical sensibilities. “The good thing about this show is that we don’t necessarily have to do musical impressions,” he explained. “It’s more of a retrospective, or a tribute to them more than anything. We are ‘emulating’ them when we do the songs.”
Hunt laughs as he points out that the acclaimed duo weren’t the most active performers onstage, tending to stand relatively still during performances. That said, he watched loads of clips of Garfunkel from over the years to get an understanding of how the artist did carry himself generally.
He points out that even during the Central Park reunion show, Garfunkel performed at least part of the show with his arms crossed - oddly enough. But again, it was that voice that melded so seamlessly with Simon’s that wowed the crowds - no question about it.
Again back to the duo’s enduring appeal, Hunt said it likely boils down to the universality of the music. “The poetry is strong and meaningful, and it’s easy to connect to,” he said. “It speaks to you on a personal level. I had an emotional connection to the music even before I’m doing the show - and I had this really strong emotional connection to the music as a teenager back in the 90s.
“And if you really listen to the music, there aren’t a lot of people who really have done what they did. I mean there are plenty of duos, and plenty of folk singers - but I don’t know that anyone has done exactly what they do,” he added. “It’s that single guitar, those two voices, - nothing else matters, we’re going to take you away kind-of-thing.”
Hunt recalled essentially growing up listening to Simon & Garfunkel and and he used to listen to their Greatest Hits album on repeat in middle school and high school, harmonizing with his folks and friends.
Using huge projection photos and original film footage, this 50th anniversary celebration also features a full live band performing all of their hits, including Mrs. Robinson (featured in the 1967 film The Graduate), Cecilia, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Homeward Bound and many more.
Over the years, they won 10 Grammy Awards and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
As for Bloom, he saw an audition posting for ‘The Simon & Garfunkel Story’ and thought it would be a fun audition and rare opportunity to, “Put my guitar skills to work. Usually I’m just acting and singing.”
After getting the gig, he spent the next few weeks tearing through Simon & Garfunkel records to get more familiar with their music.
When asked about his earliest memories of Simon & Garfunkel, he remembers the first time he heard the song America.
“It was just playing in the background. I remember hearing it and thinking, this is amazing! This is some of the best music ever. So I’m really glad that I’ve had the opportunity of doing this show and becoming much more knowledgeable with their catalogue of music because it’s such a great one - it’s rich, beautiful music.”
He realized how timeless and classic the tunes were when a friend of his folks - on hearing that Bloom was signed on for the show - started singing a line from one of their hits but honestly couldn’t even recall what song that very line was from. It was just there. “He was having a serious emotional reaction as well because I think it was from a long-ago memory, too.
“So I think why the music is kind of timeless is two-fold - there’s a generation of people out there for who this is their childhood music. It sort of lives in them.
“And then the music itself is something that someone could sit down to today - if you played Bridge Over Troubled Water for my young cousin, he would know that it’s a beautiful song because the words speak to something that goes beyond an era.”
For tickets, visit www.blackknightinn.ca.