The Simon and Garfunkel Story is a show that’s part tribute and part musical theatre piece, playing homage to one of popular music’s most celebrated acts. With the production hitting the stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Adelaide on the 9th and 10th July, we spoke with Joe Sterling, who takes on the role of Art Garfunkel.
“It’s a musical documentary,” Joe explains, “which is a very fitting way to describe it. We start off with their career way back when they were Tom and Jerry as a rock’n’roll duo in 1967, and we sort of narrate through their career with the help of our big projection screen showing images of their time throughout the sixties until their infamous split in 1970. And then the finale of the show is a recreation of their 1981 reunion concert in Central Park.”
Originating in the UK, the show has already enjoyed a successful run over a number of years.
“It was developed two and half years ago by a producer called Dean Elliott, who put the show together, and it’s been touring since then,” Joe says. “I joined a year ago, so the show was already up and running. I auditioned and was lucky enough to get the role, and started touring with the show last July.”
Joe, who has a background in both acting and musical performance, understands the importance of getting the role right.
“They’re very iconic roles and you want to make sure you get it as right as you can and to be true to them as people, but also put your own interpretation on it. So it’s not so much an impression as actors taking on these roles. But of course we’ve done research into physicality and voice and things like that to try and give an honest interpretation of those wonderful people.”
It’s not the first time Joe has undertaken a role like this one, having previously played the lead in Buddy Holly and the Cricketers, with some obvious parallels between the shows.
“It’s similar; of course it’s a very different style of music, but in terms of going into it it’s been much the same thing: we’ve watched a lot of mannerisms and listened to all of the work. You just look at that person and you think: how can you bring it to life in a true and honest interpretation of how they would have been?”
For The Simon and Garfunkel Show, Joe is very enthusiastic about the material he is working with.
“I just think they’re really fantastic songs to be honest, and people like to come to revisit maybe their youth or times they remember; their music seems to evoke a lot of memories for people. Certainly that’s what people say to us after the show. It brings up memories for them, a particular time in their life. And then we also introduce it to a new audience as well. I was brought up on Simon and Garfunkel as well by my mother, who was a very big fan. So it’s a show for all ages I think.
“We have a lot people of that era who remember it from the first time around or there’s people who are fans from the eighties from their reunion, or there’s families who bring along their children and have introduced it to them. It’s all ages really.”
Joe has also enjoyed how the show has connected with different audiences around the world.
“The audiences have responded really well. It’s been a really fantastic response. We’ve been all around the world with it; we’ve been to Holland, Denmark, Belgium, South Africa, and Portugal. It’s funny when you go to a country that’s quite far away, you’re never really sure how it’s going to go down. Like when we went to South Africa we weren’t sure how they were going to react to the music, but when we got there we saw that they were really very big over there as well; they knew all the songs.”
Like many audience members, Joe also feels a strong personal connection to the music.
“I used to drive to primary school and my mum would play them in the car, driving along to ‘Cecilia’ and all their hits as a boy,” he enthuses. “My favourite song in the show is probably ‘Richard Cory’, which is one of their very early works. But they’re brilliant, brilliant songs and I really love singing them.”
Joe is also enjoying the experience of working with the other performers who bring this music to life.
“We have a fantastic band,” he says. “We have Leon Camfield on the bass guitar, we have James Pritchard on the drums and Adam Smith on the keyboard and electric guitar, and of course Gregory Clarke plays Paul Simon. We all have a fantastic time together, it’s been really brilliant working with everybody. We get on really well and it’s a fantastic team of people, with fantastic musicians. So we are very excited to come to Australia.”
Joe is particularly enthusiastic about touring the show here in Australia, which is his first time in this part of the world.
“I’ve never been to Australia, so I’m very, very excited to come,” he says. “I’m really excited about bringing the show to another new audience, that will be fantastic, and of course just coming to Australia and doing it in New Zealand as well. I’ve always wanted to come to Australia, so I’m really excited to come and see all your wonderful cities and your wonderful theatres.”
The Simon and Garfunkel Story will be performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre on Sat 9th July at 8pm and Sun 10th July at 4pm and 7:30pm. Ticket details can be found here.
Written by Matthew Trainor