THE SIMPLE, TIMELESS lyrics of Simon and Garfunkel are the kinds of conjoined words and ideas that may have slipped so quietly into your sensibilities that you may not remember how well you know them, until you’re sitting in the audience of the revue of the Simon and Garfunkel songbook, tears of nostalgia running down your cheeks. It’s a quirky and lovely show which makes you think a more down-at-heel environment may have been more appropriate: you kind of yearn to be sitting on bales of hay, singing along to these contemporary troubadours.
And that’s the edge and the nub of this production. While on the whole, the cherries of the song repertoire have been picked and shone here, and you see performances of glorious chestnuts such as Mrs Robinson, The Boxer, Kathy’s Song, Scarborough Fair and many more, the arrangements are the vehicle for the magic and personality of the eight young performers on stage, effectively nudging this show well beyond the colour-by-numbers idea of a tribute show.
While these arrangements are fresh and creative, involving instruments from pan pipes to a ukulele, a cello to an upright piano, as well as harmonies that will set up goosebumps instantaneously, they’re not always successful. Some of the songs don’t hang together smoothly and there are gaps in the musicality which strip them of a sense of songful victory and occasionally, coherence.
Having said that it is here, where you experience Josh Ansley crafting his heart and his voice around some of the gentler lyrics, or the lovely Phindy Dube taking notes and riffs and putting her name on them, or the kickass Ashleigh Butcher getting her own way with these iconic tunes. You are in awe of Sanli Jooste’s fine voice and Hanna So’s presence, to say nothing of Daniel Geddes’s sense of authority. But at the same time, you wish to see these young performers strutting their original sounds. They do fair justice to Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon, their songs, their achingly beautiful words, their collaboration and their history, but there’s a spark of something that’s local that feels like it needs igniting.
While the lighting tends to be a little too harsh and a tad too focused on the faces of audience members at time, the charm factor of this show is pumped and will leave you remembering songs and how they intertwined with events in your life. But hopefully this show and its success (it’s back on Montecasino stages in this season by popular demand) will trigger these eight fine young musicians to bring their own music to the fore.
- Here’s to you: The Simon and Garfunkel songbook is directed by Timothy Le Roux and features design input by Timothy Le Roux (musical staging), Wessel Odendaal (musical direction), Fried Wilsenach (sound), Oliver Hauser (lighting), Lynn Driver (wardrobe), Nadine Minnaar (set) and Bryan Schimmel, Wessel Odendaal, Matthew Vlok, Daniel Keith Geddes, Jaco van Rensburg (arrangements). It is performed by Josh Ansley, Ashleigh Butcher, Phindy Dube, Daniel Keith Geddes, Sanli Jooste, Wessel Odendaal, Hanna So and Justin Swartz in the Pieter Toerien Theatre, Montecasino theatre complex in Fourways, until March 8. Call 011 511 1988.