Theatre Interview: Dean Elliott, The Simon And Garfunkel Story, Empire Theatre, Liverpool

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Dean Elliott (Image Source:
The Simon and
Garfunkel Story)

Written By: Mark Armstrong

The work of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel created some unforgettable songs which remain favourites amongst an older generation to this very day. And a modern audience will receive the opportunity to appreciate these tunes and more in the brand new theatre show The Simon and Garfunkel Story, which comes to the Liverpool Empire Theatre this Friday.

We caught up with Dean Elliott, who will play a vital role both on the stage and behind the curtain for this show, on the significance of this show and why, in many ways, it is an ideal production for him to work on …

First of all, The Simon and Garfunkel Story comes to the Liverpool Empire Theatre this Friday. Tell us about the inspiration behind a show celebrating the music of Simon & Garfunkel.

I was playing Buddy Holly in Buddy: The Musical in the West End, and I was toying with the idea of doing a show similar to Buddy, which would be like a rock ‘n’ roll biopic. But I wanted to find something that hadn’t been done before, a story that hadn’t been told. So, I went to my CD collection, and I had all the CDs for Simon and Garfunkel, so I thought that (a show about these two) would be fascinating. And then a guy who I was sharing a dressing room with at the time said to me “I love their music, but didn’t they fall out? What was their story?” Then it suddenly hit me; I thought “that’s exactly why this is a show that needs to be made”. Those were unanswered questions of rock ‘n’ roll history, so we aim to answer it with this show.

So, this is a show where you are both a performer and a key figure behind the scenes?

Yeah. I’m currently playing Paul Simon in the show, but I am also one of the writers on the creative team, which is exciting. I’ve only ever been able to do this a handful of times, and never on this level. Being part of the creative team – it’s really exciting.

You mentioned your previous role as Buddy Holly; what else makes up your background in theatre?

Well, I trained at Paul McCartney’s school LIPA in Liverpool, and lived in Liverpool for four years. And every year, the people of LIPA kind of migrate down the M6 towards London, so I spent many years trying out the craft down in London. Then, luckily, I landed the lead role of Buddy Holly in Buddy, which was a massive breakthrough for me obviously, and now I’m very fortunate to be in a position to create theatre of this quality.

I understand that you also perform as the lead singer and a guitarist in The Domino Band. Can you tell us more about this?

Yes. I don’t do a great deal of that, sadly. I wish I did because it’s a lot of fun. Because of the theatre shows, I am very busy. But generally how that works is that we’re a wedding and functions band, and we play a variety of songs from throughout the years. It’s great because we get to play the Beatles, we get to play the Rolling Stones, we get to play modern music, we get to play rock ‘n’ roll, we get to play funk, we get to play soul, we get to play jazz etc. And actually as a musician, it’s nice to be able to test yourself with lots of different styles.

Can you tell us more about the rest of the cast in The Simon and Garfunkel Story?

Well, we’ve got four cast members who are West End actors or musicians, all of which are extraordinary characters in their own right, and playing the part of Art Garfunkel is Joe Sterling, who’s just magnificent. Hearing him sing Bridge Over Troubled Water at the end of the show is worth the ticket price alone. It’s just extraordinary.

And then we have what we call the sixth member of the team which is our video projector, which displays right onto the back wall. It goes through all the ages such as the sixties, it tells their story, and it tells the story of the sixties as well. It’s a real trip down memory lane and a nostalgic look at the things that shaped the music of Simon and Garfunkel.

Are the cast looking forward to performing in Liverpool?

I think so, nobody more than me. It was always my dream to play the Liverpool Empire, and I did it with Buddy: The Musical in 2006. Now, I was like “Oh, I’d love to bring a show of mine to the Liverpool Empire”, and that will happen on Friday. So, yes, I’m really excited about that. On a personal note, having lived there for so long, with Liverpool being my favourite city in the world, I’m just really excited about playing this show.

And finally, which is your personal favourite Simon and Garfunkel song?

I won’t say that it’s unknown because if you were a fan you’d know it, but it’s called The Dangling Conversation. The reason why I think it’s brilliant is because when you get to look through the body of work of Paul Simon like I have with a microscope, you get to really understand its significance. The story goes that Paul walked into the rehearsal room with Art Garfunkel and he said: “Art has written the masterpiece, the one that’s gonna make us”. It never was, and I have no idea why, but I just think that the song is a masterpiece. And it’s definitely part of the show as I make sure of it! (laughs)

The Simon and Garfunkel Story plays the Liverpool Empire on Friday January 8. To book your tickets, click here.

For more information about The Simon and Garfunkel Story, visit www.thesimonandgarfunkelstory.com/.