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The Simon & Garfunkel Story

Lyric Theatre

The Simon & Garfunkel Story

The Simon & Garfunkel Story

Lyric Theatre

Reviewed – 29th April 2019



“the musicianship is excellent, and it’s quite a phenomenal showcase of ability”


It’s been fifty years since Simon and Garfunkel were hitting the charts, but it seems their popularity has yet to wane, as can be seen with the ongoing demand for ‘The Simon and Garfunkel Story’. Even after a sizeable run in London last year and a world tour following that, still, two months in to another season in London, a giddy full-house eagerly awaits.

New stars of the show, Adam Dickinson (Paul Simon) and Kingsley Judd (Art Garfunkel) open with a perfect rendition of ‘The Sound of Silence’. They share a fair likeness with their characters, and their silvery vocals harmonise beautifully so that if you closed your eyes you might just be fooled.

However, as soon as the first track finishes, we’re greeted with two very English accents, and a story told in the third person. It makes you wonder why they bothered with the costumes if suspension of disbelief was only going to come to a screeching halt five minutes in.

It’s a strange combination of production choices – Dickinson and Judd do at least sing with American accents, and both have appeared to study the mannerisms of their characters’ musical performances but as soon as each song is finished, they’re back to being two English lads. There’s no set besides a projector screen, and the ‘story’ is mostly made up of geographical locations of both singers and the chronology of the music, told in cheesy gobbets between numbers.

The costumes change according to the era (Everly Brothers-style shirts and black ties are swapped for seventies polo necks, and then eighties blazers and t-shirts) but the effect is so minimal they may as well not have bothered – particularly as the rest of the band remain in their shirts and ties throughout.

That being said, the musicianship is excellent, and it’s quite a phenomenal showcase of ability. More than that, it’s a pleasure to see how much they’re enjoying the performance – the drummer (Mat Swales) sweetly mouths the words of nearly every song, and the bassist (Leon Camfield) emanates a contagious enthusiasm.

It’s clear that vocal ability and aesthetic were the reigning considerations in casting Kingsley Judd: his manner of addressing the audience is overly sentimental, as though talking to an audience of senile geriatrics, and his performance is uncomfortable to watch. Dickinson, making his professional debut, seems much more at home as a front man, though he does have the advantage of having a guitar to hide behind, where Judd is left desperately trying to work out what to do with his hands – there’s only so many times you can meaningfully grab the mic stand.

Of course it’s entertaining listening to brilliant musicians performing huge hits, but it’s not a theatre production. The set-up is that of a gig (minus a dancefloor), and there’s little to no acting required or story told.


Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Hamish Gill


The Simon & Garfunkel Story

Lyric Theatre – Monday 20th May & Monday 24th June


Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Simon & Garfunkel Story | ★★★★ | July 2018
A Beautiful Noise | ★★★★★ | February 2019

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The Simon & Garfunkel Story – 4 Stars


The Simon & Garfunkel Story

Lyric Theatre

Reviewed – 23rd July 2018


“Warson’s fluid guitar picking enhances the authenticity and allows the purity of the voices to shine through”


For some, it feels like it is the end of an era as Paul Simon begins winding up the final leg of his ‘Homeward Bound – The Farewell Tour’. At seventy-six, and after five decades of writing songs that have become part of the fabric of people’s lives, he describes bringing his performing career to a natural end as “a little unsettling, a touch exhilarating and something of a relief”. Of his many concert appearances over the years he is most fond of the reunion gig in Central Park, New York with his partner and childhood friend Art Garfunkel in 1981. It was a homecoming that served as a reminder of the duo’s unparalleled achievements, and the recreation of this event is the highlight of “The Simon & Garfunkel Story” currently enjoying a nationwide tour.

Dean Elliott’s show is a timely tribute to the two young boys from New York who went on to become the most successful music duo of all time. Given that they had one of the most fractious relationships in music, it should come as no surprise to learn that Simon and Garfunkel almost didn’t make it beyond their time as a rock ’n’ roll duo named ‘Tom and Jerry’. And like with ‘The Beatles’, it is sometimes hard to remember how short lived the partnership was. By 1970 it was all over.

This act ably captures the musical essence. Philip Murray Warson as Paul Simon and Charles Blyth as Art Garfunkel make an accomplished duo. Both possess the vocal strength needed to pull off the material, and the harmonies are spot on. Opening with ‘The Sound of Silence’ all the old favourites are there. The most haunting moments accompany the sparser numbers, such as ‘For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her’ and ‘Cathy’s Song’. Warson’s fluid guitar picking enhances the authenticity and allows the purity of the voices to shine through.

After a while, though, it is a bit like being with old friends who have lost their sparkle. Admittedly this is a tribute act, and nobody is pretending that the charisma and the chemistry of the original could, or should, be replicated. That is not the point. Yet there is a distinct lack of theatricality to the show. The highs and lows of their compelling story are flattened by a monotone, and mainly humourless, delivery of facts between the musical numbers.

The second act does step up a gear, providing many uplifting moments culminating in the iconic ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. Blyth begins with a whispering falsetto, and later soars, effectively mirroring Art Garfunkel’s performance, while Warson watches from the wings as Paul Simon would have done. It is often the case that artists produce their most heart-stirring material at the height of their turbulence. Simon would come to regret insisting that Garfunkel provide the vocals for that particular song. “Many times on a stage” he once said, “when I’d be sitting off to the side and Artie would be singing Bridge, people would stomp and cheer when it was over, and I would think, ‘That’s my song, man’”

The audience did stomp and cheer, deservedly so; but for me, I just wish that we could have seen some of those troubled waters in the performances.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Betty Zapata


The Simon & Garfunkel Story

Lyric Theatre and touring



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