Dave Woodhall talks to more than a Paul Simon impersonator.
Dean Elliott is playing the part of Paul Simon in the Simon & Garfunkel Story which appears at the Robin 2 on Sunday. He’s also been a few more things.
You’re not the Dean Elliott who wrote the music for the Tom & Jerry cartoons?
“No, he’s proably a bit older than me.
And neither are you the Dean Elliott who was sentenced to 32 months in prison for affray a couple of years ago, or the one who starred in Ninja Scrolls.
“Wow, no. You’ve made my life seem a bit dull there.”
But you are the one who’s a highly regarded actor with a penchant for playing musical legends, not least the award-winning West End hit Buddy.
“Ah, you’ve won me back with that accolade. Thank you.”
And it was an interesting route to taking the lead role, because you started out in the tour as a Cricket.
“That was a long time ago. Double bass was one of my first instruments and I landed that role in 2006. They needed an understudy for Buddy so I stepped up and then when my contract ended they asked me to take over. We ended up going to the West End, playing the Duchess Theatre for 18 months, which was rather nice.”
Playing a West End lead must be about as good as it gets.
“Had you asked me when I was graduating aged 23 that by the age of 27 I’d be a lead actor in the West End I would have laughed so hard I’d have fallen over but it all happened so quickly and I’m very grateful that it did It was great to be down there, meeting the guys from the other productions in the actors’ bars around the West End, chatting to the guys from Mamma Mia or to Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.”
But before that you trained at Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. Does that mean you might want to be a Beatle one day?
“I graduated from there 2003 and it was incredible, a good place to cut my teeth in acting. Later on I auditioned for the Let It Be musical and I got very close to getting the part of Paul, but of course had I got that I would still be doing it now and not the current show.”
You’re now playing Paul Simon in the Simon & Garfunkel Story, which is a lot more than just another tribute act.
“We do feel we offer a lot more to the audience than just doing a tribute. We wanted a rock’n’roll biography which told a story, and this tells the story of the sixties. There’s a screen showing film, we have a full band, musicians and singers and we tell the story through chronological order. We do play the songs but you get a lot more than that from the show.”
The Robin is the only concert venue on the tour.
“We’re used to playing in theatres but I think we’ve done two or three concert venues and there’s always a different vibe. The audience drinking possibly adds something to that, people are a little bit more up for it in the music venues but it’s still as exciting for us as for the audience. I played the Robin a few years ago in an Elvis show, we got a great reception there and it’ll be nice to go back.”
Not only do you star in the show, you’re also doing the PR and marketing.
“Yes, I’m the general dogsbody really. When I was doing Buddy it was incredible, one week I’d be on Richard and Judy, the next I was on Radio 2, then I’m being flown somewhere exotic and I was just in it as an actor, whereas here I’m a creative force as well as a performer. It’s exciting how I’m trying to see it all th way through to that sort of level of interest and to where Buddy is now.”
And the obvious question – who will you be paying next?
“I’ve done someone from the fifties, I’m now playing someone from the sixties so the logical step is from the seventies. What do you think? Maybe Noddy Holder?”
Nobody could caricature Slade as well as they did it themselves. How about Joe Strummer. That could be a good story – the diplomat’s son turned punk icon.
“I’d not thought about that. Maybe that’s the one to go for. There’s your exclusive.”
Dean Elliott stars in the Simon & Garfunkel Story at the Robin 2 on Sunday 14th September. www.therobin.co.uk