‘The Simon & Garfunkel Story’ delves into musical memories


All it takes is a bar or two of their songs – “Mrs. Robinson”, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “Scarborough Fair” – and memories are evoked.

The national tour of The Simon & Garfunkel story stopped at DC’s National Theater for two shows last weekend. If you were there, you didn’t see the originals, but you did experience their music and its timeline – a concert-style presentation by two young singers, who look and sound a lot like Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. At the performance I saw on Saturday night, they were George Clements as Simon and Brendan Smith as Garfunkel.

Benjamin Cooley (as Art Garfunkel) and Taylor Bloom (as Paul Simon) in “The Simon & Garfunkel Story”. Photo by Lane Peters.

Despite the production’s deference to acclaimed musicians, it lacked things that might have left you wanting: no shots of album covers, no images or photographs of the original artists. I admit it took me a few moments to let go of my own expectations of “seeing a Simon and Garfunkel concert” without “seeing Simon and Garfunkel”. However, what you see, if you’re willing to give up the disbelief, are silhouettes of New York’s Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge, images of Vietnam, Woodstock, the Civil Rights Movement and more 1960s and 1970s events. using video projection and lighting, and a fantastic live band with accomplished singers. You can’t help but be immersed in the memories sparked by the music and story of the two guys from New York who went on to become one of the world’s most successful music duos of all time.

George Clements’ guitar playing is impeccable and, like Simon, he plays guitar most of the time. Brendan Smith looks suspiciously like Art Garfunkel: curly blond hair and hands in his pockets as he stands at the microphone. Although his voice is not an exact replica, he does honor to Garfunkel’s character with a high, smooth, clear voice and great harmonies. The musicians behind them do a fabulous job with the arrangements and do not disappoint. All the “biggies” are there: “Mrs. Robinson”, “Feelin’ Groovy”, “Sounds of Silence”, “Cecilia”, “Homeward Bound”, “The Boxer”. It was wonderful to hear the chorus “Li la li” coming from the whole audience in a live theater hall in these days of COVID. And you could literally hear the audience breathing and longing as the faces of Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft flashed across the screen with the music kicking in and the familiar words captioned “Mrs. Robinson, you try to seduce me.

The singers deliver some of the biographical bits and facts about the duo’s accomplishments, and some are projected onto the screen behind them. It’s worth noting, however, that there aren’t many mentions of the infamous strife and discord between the two, except for the one line, “as the performers have grown professionally , they parted ways personally,” and of course, their ultimate breakup in 1970. But murky relationship or not, no one can deny the recognizable harmonies and masterful lyrics of the singer-songwriters in this musical tribute.

Benjamin Cooley (as Art Garfunkel) and Taylor Bloom (as Paul Simon) in “The Simon & Garfunkel Story”. Photo by Lane Peters.

Duration: Approximately 2h15 including 1 intermission of 20 minutes.

The Simon & Garfunkel story performed February 29-30, 2022 at the National Theater, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004. Upcoming US tour dates are here.

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