The names Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are synonymous with perfect harmony.
The duo, whose splendid blended voices helped them sell more than 100 million albums, win 10 Grammy Awards and become members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, has recorded some of the most famous music of all time, including “Mrs. Robinson,” “Cecilia,” “Homeward Bound” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
While the pair had a well-known troubled relationship over the years, prompting several breakups and their last performance together ever in 2010, fans can now get an idea of what attending a Simon & Garfunkel concert in person would be like thanks to “The Simon & Garfunkel Story,” a musical theatre experience playing at The National Theatre on Jan. 29 and 30.
Utilizing state-of-the-art video projection, photos and original film footage, the immersive concert-style theater show tells the history of the legendary duo, and also features a full live band performing all of their hits.
Taylor Bloom and Ben Cooley, who play Simon and Garfunkel respectively, look and sound amazingly close to their real-life counterparts and have both been involved in the show since 2017. In fact, the show played The National Theatre a month before the pandemic hit in 2020.
“We had a really fun time then and are excited to be back in D.C.,” Bloom says.
When he auditioned for the show, he admits that he didn’t know much about the music of Simon & Garfunkel outside of the major hits, but he felt he had a leg up in the audition because they were looking for a strong guitar player, and that’s something that was in his wheelhouse.
“I was lucky enough to get the role and it’s been a really lovely road to travel ever since,” Bloom says. “Of course, when I eventually was exposed to their music, it really appealed to me.”
One of his favorite things about the show is seeing and hearing the audience get so invested in the duo and the music.
“For many people who come out to see the show, this is kind of like the fabric of their childhood. A song like ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ especially has an ongoing legacy because it has such a deep meaning for so many. It’s a special thing to take the stage each night and bring these memories to them.”
On stage, Bloom and Cooley have a four-piece band behind them and they tell the story of Simon and Garfunkel in the third-person, from the time they met as kids in elementary school through their early days as Tom & Jerry, and culminates with the famous “The Concert in Central Park” reunion in 1981, which saw more than half a million fans in attendance.
“Audiences will hear, sort of in chronological order in the time they were released, some of their favorite Simon & Garfunkel songs, as well as see projections of what was happening in the world at the time these songs were coming out. So much of what was occurring influenced Paul Simon when writing these songs.”
While he doesn’t have a true favorite, Bloom does name a few that he enjoys playing night after night.
“My favorite songs to play move on a rotation, but one that comes up a lot is ‘America,’ I really love to play that song,” Bloom says, revealing that he has memories of listening to his older brother play the tune back when he was only 4. “I also enjoy ‘The Boxer,’ which comes at a point in our show when the audience is really excited about everything; It’s near the end, and it makes people want to get involved and sing along.”
Unlike Simon and Garfunkel, Bloom and Cooley enjoy a great relationship, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be parting ways anytime soon — especially with the strong reception the show gets in every city it stops.
“We have grown to be very good friends over the years of working together,” Bloom says. “The touring lifestyle is not for everybody and sometimes it’s not easy, but you end up with a shared experience and a lot of inside jokes, and you enjoy it together. We don’t share any of the animosity that Paul and Art have over the years.”
During the pandemic, while the show was on hiatus, Bloom used his time off to record his own music utilizing the band from the “Simon & Garfunkel Story.” But now, he’s happy to be back on the road touring with his friends and bringing these legendary singers to life.
“For anyone who is familiar with or a huge fan of Simon & Garfunkel, this is the best chance you have to hear their music produced in minute detail and performed live,” Bloom says. “For those less familiar with their music, this is a good opportunity to hear some amazing live music and really deepen your understanding of these two iconic folk musicians.”
“The Simon & Garfunkel Story” will be staged at The National Theatre at 7:30 p.m., Jan. 29 and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Jan. 30.
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