The Drifters Girl

These talented men combine flawless vocals with incredible energy

The Drifters Girl is heading out on its inaugural tour of The United Kingdom after premiering in London’s West End in 2021. Filled with classic songs including ‘Saturday Night At The Movies’ and ‘You’re More Than A Number In My Little Red Book’ the show is currently playing to audiences at Manchester’s Opera House.

In the ever growing list of Jukebox biopic musicals, The Drifters Girl provides a narrative focusing on telling the story of Faye Treadwell, manager of the The Drifters and one of the first African-American women to enter the music business. This is the true story of how she managed and sustained the success of one of the most influential soul groups of all time navigating them through the highs and lows of the industry.

Featuring a cast of only six actors, and several playing multiple parts, it has to be noted how hard this cast work. The Drifters famously have had over 60 members during their time together as a band and by playing multiple parts this is a lovely little nod to this unique piece of musical history. The cast seamlessly and effortlessly switch from character to character and whilst it is important to recognise the ever changing line up, the show settled into a steady pace when the established four members perform.

The Drifters Girl is filled with all the classic songs you’d expect to hear and whilst not all of them are as well known and instantly recognisable, the story relied too much on the hits and lacks thorough content. It does attempt to address complicated and challenging themes however these are covered briefly and are not as impactful as they could have been as they are shoe horned in to brief scenes. Whilst the script is fast paced and naturally skips a lot of the finer details of Treadwell’s story, it’s difficult to connect and resonate with the character as she relays her story to her younger daughter.

Due to the indisposition of Carly Mercedes Dyer, at this performance Loren Anderson was leading lady Faye Treadwell. Anderson lacked the emotion needed to lead this show and really connect the story with the audience. At pivotal moments which should have been hard hitting and gasp worthy fell flat and passed the audience by. The show stopping heartfelt emotional ballad ‘Harlem Child’ felt underwhelming and anticlimactic. At times it was difficult to hear Anderson’s vocal as the band were overpowering her but she was resilient and overcame these sound issues. It’s worth noting that the tour has recently opened and Anderson’s lack of time on stage in the role may be a factor in this performance lacking certain elements. Given time on this mammoth tour, Anderson will grow into the role and be impressing audiences up and down the country.

Playing parts including The Drifters are musical theatre stars Ashford Campbell, Miles Anthony Daley, Tarik Frimpong and X Factor Winner Dalton Harris. These talented men combine flawless vocals with incredible energy and acting, with sincerity and impeccable comic timing. The vocal group appeared to have been performing together almost as long as The Drifter’s themselves as the harmonies between them were impressive. Campbell in particular stood out for the right reasons with his emotive nuances and portrayal of his characters. Campbell’s vocal truly is the highlight of the show belting ‘Under The Boardwalk’ to the back rows. Jaydah Bell-Ricketts plays the role of ‘Girl’ and performs well with the limited material and time she is given on stage.

Modern and stylish set design by Anthony Ward is visually pleasing with a variety of locations and settings represented. Scenes at times become repetitive as there are minimal props and large open spaces, difficult to be filled by a cast of just six. The lightning design by Ben Cracknell is sublime and does what it can with the limited staging particularly impressing during the performance of ‘Stand By Me’. Slick choreography by Karen Bruce is reminiscent of the sixties and seventies and the cast deliver this with confidence.

The audience were a vast range of ages which demonstrates the broad appeal that not only theatre has but The Drifters in particular. Many of us grew up with our parents playing their iconic songs and now we get a chance to experience them live through this stage show.

‘Whatcha Gonna Do?’ Book a ticket for The Drifters Girl and see if you ‘Stand By Me’ and my review.

This show was reviewed on the 11th October 2023.  The Drifters Girl runs at the Manchester Opera House until the 14th October 2023.  Tickets available here: The Drifters Girl Tickets | Opera House Manchester in Manchester | ATG Tickets

Full tour details can be found here: The Drifters Girl

Review written by Jordan Potts

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Photo credit: The Other Richard

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