The Simon & Garfunkel Story is more about the songs than the stories | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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The Simon & Garfunkel Story is more about the songs than the stories

The biography is prosaic, but this touring bio musical captures the dark harmonies of the folk-rock superstars.


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Even when it's as jubilant as the pots-and-pans percussion backing "Cecilia," the music of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel is razored with sorrow. Their multiplatinum folk-rock albums capture the sound of (to quote the magnificent "America") "feeling empty and aching and I don't know why."

"The Sounds of Silence," "Bookends," "The Boxer"—this is music that evokes those fleeting, interstitial moments when a lifetime of adventure is all ahead of you, luminous with possibility. Yet embedded in every chord of shimmering, youthful promise is the inevitable B side: "Preserve your memories. They're all that's left you."

The Simon & Garfunkel Story is essentially a concert of S&G hits interspersed with prosaic biological bullet points, backed by largely uninspired projections. Never mind all that. Taylor Bloom (Simon) and Benjamin Cooley (Garfunkel) nail the brilliant darkness and exquisite harmonies that made the duo integral to the score of the 1960s and '70s. The opening notes of "The Sounds of Silence" tell you all you need to know. Musically, Simon & Garfunkel is worthy of its subjects.

Director Dean Elliott's show is basically a license to print money, courtesy of boomers increasingly aware that 70 doesn't look as "terribly strange" as it did during the Summer of Love. The script has the performers pitching their own CDs, for chrissakes. Still, even that's forgivable when the music starts. There's glory in Cooley's soaring "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and reverence in Bloom's renditions of S&G's intricate acoustic guitar licks. And keep an eye on Marc Encabo (bass) and Joshua Vasquez (guitar)—their high-powered jubilation will leave you joy struck.  v

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