For those of us who grew up listening to Simon & Garfunkel, then the place to be this weekend is at Chrysler Hall and enjoy this incredible National Tour of this critically acclaimed concert-style theater show.
For tickets and info go to
https://www.sevenvenues.com/events/detail/the-simon-garfunkel-story With us today is Brendan Jacob Smith who is Art Garfunkel.
Yiorgo: Why should people come to this show, what will they experience?
Brendan Jacob Smith: If you are a big fan of Simon and Garfunkel this would be an incredible show to see not just for the music but to also get a full picture of what their life was like while they were performing and what it was like to be Simon and Garfunkel and their relationship with each other.
Even if you are not a fan of Simon and Garfunkel, this is really really a good show to escape from everything that is going on in the world. To have two hours with some really nice harmony and a really great time at the theater. During this time, it's nice to just forget your troubles, listen to great music and hear a cool story and have a fun time at the theater.
Y: How long has the show been on the road?
BS: I have been on the road for about five months but the show has been on the road for close to six years. It started in the UK and it had a very successful run there and in the West End. It came over in the United States and it has been here for a couple of years.
Y: Can you describe the show? Is it a bio, a musical medley?
BJ: It’s kinda like a concert style musical. What we are basically doing is going from the beginning of their career, what it was like when they were kids, growing up and going through album by album with their songs and telling stories, what the world was like during that time. It’s a concert that features the story of their lives until they eventually broke up. We have a four person band behind us, we also have a production screen that adds cool visuals to the show. When we do a song, there is visual content to what is going on in the world as these songs were written. Our set if you will is visually shown on the screen. It’s actually a really very well done aspect of the show. The crew really does an excellent job making the show sound and looking good and something that I am really proud to be a part of.
Y: What was the audition process like?
BJ: What is super interesting about this particular show is that I actually auditioned right before the pandemic. I got it in January of 2020, expecting to do it in June of 2020. I got a text from a good friend of mine who told me about the show. He knew how much of a fan I was of this music. I was going to try to get an audition but I did not have an agent yet coming out of college. I messaged a good friend of mine who has an agent and asked him if his agent could get me in the room and I got into the room via my friend’s agent, managed to get the audition, it was a couple of call backs. It was an interesting experience being in a room with about 20 people who kinda looked like Art Gunfunkel. It was crazy to get the job and not get to do it until two years later.
Y: What was rehearsal like before you went on the road?
BS: A big portion of rehearsing is learning the music and the lyrics so what I did was make myself a playlist, learn all the lyrics and get all the phrasing equate. We then went to Little Rock, Arkansas where we had rehearsals for a week and that weekend they put me in the show. It was quick and pretty wild.
Y: Any funny anecdotes of working in live theater?
BS: That's my favorite part of live theater. Whatever happens happens and you leave it all on the stage. We were in Anaheim, California and there was an audience member that was intoxicated and was very loud. You just never know what will happen. I’ve had a mic stop working, lights not working. That’s why you come to live theater, to see something live. Whatever you experience that night, you will never experience again.
Y: Where in Brooklyn did you grow up and what made you fall in love with music and musical theater?
BS: I grew up in Brooklyn Heights then we moved to Dumbo in Brooklyn. I love Brooklyn so much. Both of my parents are journalists and huge music people. We always listened to all types of music and my parents signed me up to an afterschool program called The School of Rock where we explored all types of rock music. Starting in High school I was invested in musical theater. I played the Teen Angel in Grease the Musical while in High School and that’s when I fell in love with it. I grew up harmonizing to their music and now to be playing Garfunkel it's a pretty full circle moment. I went to college and studied theater and music and ever since I’ve had this deep love for live performances.
Y: Can you talk about your group T3 and your AGT experience?
BS: It was a pretty wild experience. T3 was formulated because I was in a touring all male acapella group in Cape Cod, Massachusetts for two summers. These two other guys had done it and I had seen their YouTube videos singing. They were not in the group with me but I was really inspired by their incredible voices and performances and on a whim I sent them a message on Instagram saying that I would love to sing with them. We sang one song in my parent’s stairwell, we put it on the internet and people really liked it. It blew up on social media and AGT reached out to us to come out and audition for them and we agreed to do it.
Y: How was it there?
BS: It was pretty wild to be on a show that is not devoted to just singing. We would be waiting in the back and we would see people doing gymnastics, dogs jumping through hoops, it was like being at the circus almost. And because we were invited we made it through the screening process. What we ended up doing is once we made it through the screening process they asked for an audition tape of what we would perform on that show. We made a full version of Into the Unknown and they were like ok great, we will fly you out to LA. It was pretty crazy. We flew out in January 2021, the pandemic was still happening. We wore double masks and were tested all the time. It was a very intense experience because of COVID. They were very strict and we could not interact with anyone. They had no audience, they CGI’d an audience in. They made it look like there was one there even though there wasn't one. They had us change our song because somebody else was doing it and it took one of the main producers of the show, saw us singing another song and said, my daughter follows them on TikTok why are they not singing Into the Unknown? And thx to her, they changed us back, we performed it and got four yeses. And the rest as they say is history.
Y: Can you share a pinch me moment or two?
BS: We got to perform for the National Anthem for the first time when the NY Rangers came back to play a game in Madison Square Garden. People were screaming, it was insane, it was wild.
My second pinch me moment was when The Simon and Garfunkel Story, the play that I am doing now, we performed at the Dolby Theater where AGT is filmed. So the first time there I was a contestant and a few months later I went back as a headliner.
Yiorgo is an arts, entertainment and sports writer. A stage, TV and movie actor, he is also a sports entertainer, educator, motivational speaker, writer, storyteller and columnist.