A SHOW which was 18 months in the planning is heading to Burnley Mechanics on Saturday and one of its stars believes the scale of it will take the audience by surprise.

The Simon and Garfunkel Story features a full band, a huge projection screen and performers from the West End.

“It’s not just two people stood on stage with guitars,” said Dean Elliott, who plays Paul Simon and was one of the driving forces behind the show.

“Most of us involved in the production met when we were doing Buddy in London’s West End — Dean himself played the lead role of Buddy Holly — and we all wanted to do a musical production but didn’t want it just to be a tribute show.

“We have used out experience and background in the theatre to put together something that is just so much more.”

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were one of the biggest-selling acts of all time. Their Bridge Over Troubled Water album was at one time the biggest-selling album in history.

“Because they were together throughout the Sixties we use the projection screen to capture some of the key moments from what was a momentous decade,” said Dean.

“At its simplest this is a show about two people, with a lot of heart to it. There is a narrator who tells their story and of course we sing all their hits.

“People don’t realise just how many Simon and Garfunkel songs they know until they start to hear them all. We’ve also put one or two more obscure songs in there and cover some of their solo work.

“The final 20 minutes of the show covers their reunion concert in Central Park in 1981.”

For Dean to go from playing Buddy Holly to Paul Simon was easier than you might think.

“There are more similarities between their voices than you realise,” he said. “Paul Simon grew up in the Fifties loving rock and roll and that influence stayed with him.

“The main thing I had to do was to lose Buddy Holly’s Texan drawl as Paul Simon in very clearly a New Yorker.

“When you spend as much time listening to the lyrics and the way he moves a melody as I have you soon realise that Paul Simon is a songwriting genius.”

With such distinctive vocals, preparation for the show was crucial.

“We added an additional three months into the contract for the performer playing Art Garfunkel so that we could work together.

“I’d read that Simon and Garfunkel would spend hours a day facing each other and learning to match each other vocals and inflections perfectly and that’s exactly what we did. To many people Simon and Garfunkel are just a duo singing to a guitar but a lot of their material has real power and with the full band behind us we get to show that off.”

Such attention to detail has led to the show receiving rave reviews. It is currently on a 100-date tour of the UK and Europe will follow next year.

“I’d love to think that the show would go into the West End,” said Dean. “I don’t know when but it’s certainly good enough. I have been around the business long enough to have an awareness of a show and the quality is certainly there.”

The Simon and Garfunkel Story, Burnley Mechanics, Saturday, May 17. Details from 01282 664400.