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Carly Mercedes Dyer (The Drifters Girl)

Having thrilled audiences at the Garrick Theatre in London's West End, The Drifters Girl is now embarking on a UK tour until May 2024. With a book by Ed Curtis and directed by Jonathan Church, and co-created by Beverly Knight, Adam J Bernard, Tarinn Callender, Matt Henry and Tosh Wanogho-Maud. Featuring some of The Drifters biggest hits including Save the Last Dance for Me, Stand by Me and Saturday Night at The Movies, The Drifters Girl follows the highs of hit records and sell-out tours, to the lows of legal battles and personal tragedies, and the woman who made them - Faye Treadwell, the first African American female music manager who refused to ever give up on the group that she loved. We took the opportunity to speak to Carly Mercedes Dyer, currently playing the role of Faye Treadwell on The Drifters Girl UK tour, to tell us more about this show.


Q) What hooked you in about The Drifters Girl?

I saw the show in London because I knew most of the cast. I thought it was such a slick show. I knew the vocals would be amazing, because you know what your friends can do, but they absolutely blew me away. They showed me so much more than I already knew that they could do. I also thought that Faye Treadwell would be a great part to play because her story is so interesting.


Q) How would you describe Faye and her role in the story?

She's tenacious, groundbreaking, hugely intelligent and resilient. If there wasn't a Faye Treadwell

there wouldn't really be The Drifters because they would be a new iteration. They'd be some sort of

tribute band but she persevered and kept everything going. She kept them at the top of their game

AND fresh. The show is about this woman who took on an industry which didn't have women in

managerial positions and because she was the first African-American female manager, she was

constantly overlooked and undermined. That's crazy when you consider all the things she did. Why

would you keep undermining her and overlooking her?


Q) Can you relate to her in any way?

One hundred percent. In our industry sometimes people go "oh okay, that's what you do" and they

want to keep you in a specific box. But I like to do things that scare me and push me out of my comfort zone. I never just rest on my laurels.


Q) What challenges does the role present for you?

Following in the footsteps of Beverley Knight is a pretty big challenge. It's really overwhelming but

at the same time she been a really good friend since I was in Memphis with her. So I thought "At

least you've got her on your side" and also I'm a completely different person. I'm not Beverly

Knight, I'm not Felicia Boswell (who took over from Knight in the West End), I am Carly Mercedes

Dyer and I'm gonna give you my spin on it. That's the challenge. Plus, it's also one of those shows

where you don't really leave the stage and if you are offstage, you're getting changed and hoping

that there's a swig of water for you somewhere!


cast on stage performing

Q) Were you already familiar with the true story that inspired the show?

No, I just knew the songs and often I didn't realise it was The Drifters singing them. Seeing the

show really opened my eyes, and made me realise "oh my word, this woman was the backbone of The Drifters." She made them who they were and created a legacy both for herself and for the group.


Q) Do you think she was ahead of her time?

Absolutely. As an African-American woman in the record business she was groundbreaking and to

persevere when people always keep telling you no and shutting down your ideas takes a lot of

resilience. She really was ahead of her time because she could have easily just given up and gone

home.


Q) Do you have a favourite number in the show?

I really enjoy Save the Last Dance For Me because you can tell the boys really enjoy it when they're

dancing. You can see that they're having a great time and you're thinking that you're in the club with them. And with the opening medley I think "wow what a way to start the show!" My own solo

numbers are a big challenge vocally, but I especially enjoy performing Harlem Child because it is

so emotive. The music in this show is amazing and it's all about nostalgia. When people come and see it, they "oh my goodness, I remember hearing this." There's a feel-good quality to it as well as moments where you think "I'm having one of those days where I need a good old cry." There's something for everyone.


Q) What first lead you into performing?

My friend went to dance classes when we were in nursery school so I wanted to go too. I was

painfully shy, so dance and drama were about the social aspect of it and having an emotional outlet. I really caught the bug from doing am-dram - the dressing up and being able to express myself through different characters. One of my first jobs was High School Musical at Hammersmith

Apollo. It was insane because it was more like an arena than a theatre, but it was amazing.


Q) What have been your musical theatre highlights so far?

I can pick a few because I feel like I've been really spoiled. I think one of my proudest jobs was

definitely Memphis because it was such an ensemble piece. The skillset and the talent in that show

was unreal. Chicago was my first West End job and that was incredible, getting to work with such a vast group of talented people. When I did the concert version of Gypsy, I felt like I'd won a

competition because we had seven Mama Roses and to be in a room with such formidable women and learn from them was unreal. Then obviously doing Anything Goes was also a huge highlight because it got such a great response from the audience. To get an Olivier nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical was amazing.


Q) What are you most looking forward to about touring the country with The Drifters Girl?

I'm looking forward to seeing how each city responds. I know they are going to be blown away by the magnitude of the talent of the company because our Drifters are something else. I just don't

know how they find these people that have the vocal range and the acting ability to put on so many different hats. The cast are incredible and the buzz from the audience is going to be electric. They're in for a great time. I also hope they come away knowing more about who the backbone behind The Drifters was and how much tenacity went into keeping them going. Faye has such a great heart, such great commitment and resilience.


Q) Are there any stops on the tour that are dear to your heart?

I haven't been back to Sheffield performing since I did panto there when I was in second year at

drama school. I'm excited to go back there for their vintage shops but also to see the theatre again. I cannot wait to get back to Leicester because I’ve always loved working at the Curve, which I adore, so that's another place that it'll be great to go back to. I absolutely adore Edinburgh because it's just beautiful and I remember going there for the first time and thinking "I could definitely live here." I'm excited to go back to Dublin again. I was there with Anything Goes and we had a great time. But I don't mind where the tour takes me. It's always nice going back to places you love and it's also just as nice discovering new places.


The next stop of The Drifters Girl UK tour is Venue Cymru, Llandudno in which it runs from the 23rd until 27th January. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.

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