top of page

The Drifters Girl | New Victoria Theatre

The Drifters Girl tells the story of Faye Treadwell as she defies all odds to manage this group of men to the rock 'n' roll hall of fame. The Drifters are a group with a rich history – since forming the group in 1953, the band has featured 60 different vocalists and has gone on to sell more than 100 million album and 200 million singles worldwide. But before the musical itself came along, very little was known about the global phenomenon and how it came to be. And shockingly, even less was known about Faye and her husband George, who made the band what it is.

The whole show centres around Faye telling her story with the group to a young girl (Jaydah Bell Ricketts), alongside which there are frequent appearances of the group singing their top hits as though they were performing them on a live stage or in a recording studio. Despite being thoroughly enjoyable to the audience, having so many songs included in the show meant that the storytelling lacked the emotion that one would expect from such a touching story. The scenes between the songs were often kept quite brief, which meant that the story itself was difficult to follow, especially to an audience who does not know anything about the Drifters or their history.

Faye Treadwell went on to become one of the first African American women to enter into the music management business, and she did so with determination and razor-sharp wit. Carly Mercedes Dyer, who took on the role of Faye, is a powerhouse of a performer. Every time she enters the stage, all eyes go to her, and with great reason as her vocals are nothing short of sensational. Unfortunately, we learn very little about her life before The Drifters, as the story begins when she takes on the job given by the group’s manager George Treadwell (played by Miles Anthony Daley). This left much to be desired as even a little more backstory would have helped to appreciate the genius business mind of Faye in the institutionally racist and sexist 1950s American world. Further, it could have helped to establish a more emotional connection between Faye and the audience, which was sadly somewhat lacking in this production.

The Drifters themselves were played by Ashford Campbell, Tarik Frimpong, Daniel Haswell, and Miles Anthony Daley. Together, they formed the famous quartet, belting out perfect renditions of classic Drifters songs including ‘Under the Boardwalk’, ‘Save the Last Dance for Me’ and ‘Sweets for My Sweet.’ Their performances were a reminder of why the group’s vocal legacy lives on, 70 years after the original group was formed. However, each cast member took on the role of several Drifters members, sometimes within minutes of each other, which made it difficult to follow. Understandably, having 4 cast members cover so many characters can lead to confusion, however this could have been helped by longer scenes in between songs.

The production of the show itself, most notably the orchestra (led by Dustin Conrad) and the lighting (Matt Condon), was simply incredible. With a show that features songs which the audience most invariably knows, and are impatient to hear, the role of the orchestra is made so much more important, and boy does it not disappoint. From the very first note, you could feel the music transport you back to the 50s and immerse you completely into the Drifters’ world. It created a fun balance between a concert-like performance when the Drifters were singing, bringing together the audience as they tapped their feet and clapped their hands alongside the band, and a classic musical when Faye was alone on stage singing beautiful and powerful ballads. This was also effortlessly reflected in the lighting, which varied between bright colourful spotlights during the Drifters’ songs, and dark blue tones for the more solemn moments of the show.

Overall, the show’s musical performance is extremely strong and leaves the audience enjoying every single minute of it. However, the script lacked the emotion that was needed to convey such a touching story fully, which also meant that forming any form of attachment to the characters was made harder, especially to those previously unfamiliar with the Drifters.

The Drifters Girl is currently on tour across the UK and Ireland, this week making a stop at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review


bottom of page