Doo wop and R’n’B band The Drifters get the jukebox musical treatment in this touring version of the Olivier Award nominated West End show.
The engaging story is focus less on the band themselves than on their managers – George and Faye Treadwell – with the story spanning some thirty years from the group’s formation in 1959 to their induction in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and a performance at the US White House.
In that time the band went through dozen of line up changes, with the talented quartet of Miles Anthony Daley, Ashford Campbell, Tarik Frimpong, and Dalton Harris embodying the ever-altering line up on stage. They are held together by George (Daley) and Faye (Carey Mercedes Dyer), who navigate a series of legal battles over the Drifters name and their own evolving relationship.
The challenge facing Faye of being an Afro-American woman managing a band in the 1960s are front and centre, and a comic montage deftly addresses the racism of 1970s Britain after the band begin recording and touring in England. Dyer also delivers plenty of sharp lines, with Ed Curtis’ well-written book only really lacking in not quite knowing what to do with the Treadwell’s daughter – directly addressing the audience rather than having her as a foil for the narrator may well have been neater.
But in essence The Drifters Girl is a fun ride through the Drifters songbook, with some great tunes including Come On Over To My Place, Saturday Night At The Movies, Under The Boardwalk, Sweets For My Sweet, You’re More Than A Number In My Little Red Book and quite a few more.
It is slickly produced, with Anthony Ward’s set and Andrzej Goulding’s video projections keeping things simple and stylish, and never slowing down or getting in the way of Jonathan Church’s direction.
The story is interesting and engaging, and you’ll leave with your toes tapping: hello, happiness.
- The Drifters Girl continues at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday 23 September 2023.