Review: THE SIMON & GARFUNKEL STORY at Providence Performing Arts Center

Ran through March 11th, 2023.

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The Simon & Garfunkel Story-Providence Performing Art Center-March 11, 2023

The only sad part about this incredible performance was that it was only here for one night, gone like a phantom in the night yet leaving behind the songs and harmonies that filled the theatre long after the singing stopped.

As a big Simon & Garfunkel fan (my wife would have been a groupie if she was a little older), I didn't quite know what to expect from this one-shot performance, touring more than 50 cities across the country that started in February, but it certainly didn't take long to know we were in the right place. My wife even got emotional and introspective at times, where many of us felt like we were listeing to the real Simon & Garfunkel: it was just that good!

Brooklyn, New York native and singer, actor and songwriter Brendan Jacob Smith took the stage as the wild-haired Art Garfunkel while Jonah Bobo, also a musician and theatre artist from New York, grabbed his acoustic guitar and echoed to a T the quiet calmness and baritone voice of Paul Simon.

The story is told through the pair, commencing their musical career as Tom & Jerry and going throuugh their huge success in the 1960's leading to their breakup in 1970 and their monumental 1981 reunion concert in Central Park. Rock & Roll tends to make many good friends part ways and Simon & Garfunkel was no different. Starting with the "Sound of Silence", the pair talked of their troubles and triumphs through songs we all know and love including "Mrs. Robinson", "Cecilia" and "Homeward Bound". Like many artists singing popular songs, Bobo and Smith's voices worked far better for some songs then for others but Smith's rendition of "Bridge over Troubled Water" was truly incredible and haunting, as was Simon's crowd-pleaser "The Boxer". Several times during the two hour performance, I had wished I lived through that era and how cool that would have been.

But it's not just about the hits this night; many of the songs they featured weren't major hits at all but still ones that struck emotional cords with people and clearly still do today. "Richard Cory", "Patterns", "Somewhere they can't find me", "Wednesday morning, 3 a.m." and even their cover of their favorite band's classic, The Everly Brothers and "Wake Up Little Suzie"

The Simon & Garfunkel Story just had that special feel to it, like it touched your soul, brought back memories you hadn't thought about in yearsas well as create new ones. Most of us have heard their songs but their story, not so much. I forgot that Garfunkel got into acting, something Simon hated him for. Or that Simon, once "The Sound of Silence" broke free as a hit, had to decide whether he was going to continue his one-man-band touring and singing through England or come back to the states to continue to work with Garfunkel. What would have happened if he decided to stay put? Now that's haunting!

Bobo and Smith were perfectly cast for these roles, physically, emotionally and through their superior voices that brought us all back to a simpler time, even if many didn't consider it so back who lived through it. You'll have a blast with songs like "The 59th Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy", get emotional with "Kathy's Song" or want to dance with "A Hazy Shade of Winter". For those who lived through those times that certainly were "a-changin" to many who never heard them live, The Simon & Garfunkel Story is a tremendous walk through some incredible music that impact us still and likely always will.

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