Lee Lessack and Johnny Rogers are bringing Simon and Garfunkel's iconic concert to Milford Milford. The harmonious duo will stay true to the concert in an acoustic performance at the Historic Milford Theatre on July 28. The Greater Pike Foundation is a partner in bringing the tribute to the borough.
Johnny Rogers (left) and Lee Lessack (Photo provided)
By Pamela Chergotis
Do you remember where you were during Simon and Garfunkel's iconic 1981 reunion concert in Central Park? Neither do I. I wasn't there — but I sure did hear about it. I've been suffering FOMO panic ever since. The good news is we all get a do-over when “Simon and Garfunkel Live in Central Park: Revisited” comes to the Historic Milford Theatre on July 28. It won't feature the famous duo, but you won't be disappointed by the heavenly harmonies of recording artists Lee Lessack and Johnny Rogers, who, for the past four years, have been recreating the concert for audiences all around the country. Take a listen at leelessack.com/recordings. Lessack said he'd received an email "out of the blue" from Mark Isom, who in recent months has been bringing fabulous entertainment, including singer Lorna Luft and comedian Judy Gold, to the Milford Theatre. Isom says his goal is make the theater "a terrific community asset." Lessack is totally on board with that. Besides being a supremely talented singer, he manages some very celebrated entertainers, including Chita Rivera of "West Side Story" fame. Who, by the way, was Isom's first choice. In your dreams! Lessack laughed as he recalled the conversation. "I loved his spirit," he said. But, he told Isom, he and Rogers were available at a quarter of the price — if, that is, they could make it work. It took some finagling and a lot of luck, including a gig in New Jersey that Lessack, who lives in California, already had lined up for that week. Lessack really wanted to make it happen. "I know what it takes to build a venue and create a following," he said. He understands the importance of community theater in developing an enduring audience for the great music he and Rogers have to offer. The show they're bringing to Milford will be true to the 1981 concert. Lessack said his voice is closer to Art Garfunkel's, so he primarily does those parts, while Rogers mostly sings the Paul Simon parts. But don't expect Lessack to show up in an Art Garkfunkel fright wig. "This is not an impersonation," he said. Still, he knows that fans love, love, love Simon & Garfunkel songs to the point where they'll complain about the most minor changes they make to the music. "There's a line in 'Kodachrome' that goes 'Everything looks worse in black and white,'" Lessack said. But, in the 1981 concert, Simon and Garfunkel sang "everybody" instead of "everything," so that's the way they do it. The Milford venue will be more intimate than many of the theaters in which Lessack and Rogers perform. They will be doing their show acoustically, with Rogers playing the piano. This is another way of bringing down the cost of the act, which is usually done with a band. The duo already performed five shows in London with just vocals and piano. "It worked great," Lessack said. A philanthropic element Isom said the upcoming performance will bolster the borough in a number of ways. "This show is part of our on going effort to bring premium live entertainment to the Milford Theatre, and make it a true destination," said. "We also want each of these shows to have a philanthropic element that gives back to the community. We are really honored that Greater Pike Community Foundation has agreed to partner with us." He said the mayor, Sean Strub, the owner of the Hotel Fauchère, is a "huge booster" of the theater. "He is supporting us as a sponsor by offering specially priced meals to all ticket holders at all the Hotel Fauchère restaurants and 403 Broad," Isom said. "He has also supported us by encouraging local merchants to help us by displaying our show posters and postcards." Here's what's ahead: on Aug. 24, John Lloyd Young’s Jukebox Hero is coming to the Milford Theatre. Young won the Tony for playing Frankie Valli in the Broadway musical "Jersey Boys" and also re-created the role in Clint Eastwood’s movie version of the musical. "We’re looking to do something in September, we just haven’t figured out the act yet," said Isom. "We also want to bring another holiday concert in." Editor's note: This article has been updated from the original to correct the misspelling in Mark Isom's name. The Courier regrets the error.