We use cookies on this website to improve how it works and how it’s used. For more information on our cookie policy please read our Privacy Policy

Accept & Continue

Fresh from success on Broadway and in the West End, The Drifters Girl is currently playing Birmingham Hippodrome as part of a major UK & Ireland tour. 

Nominated for best new musical at the 2022 Olivier Awards, it tells the powerful story of the ‘girl’ of the title, Faye Treadwell, the woman who - following the untimely death of husband George - took sole responsibility for managing legendary singing group The Drifters.

Formed in 1953, The Drifters became well known for their super-smooth harmonies, initially finding success in the US R&B charts and enjoying a string of memorable hits, including There Goes My First Love, Saturday Night At The Movies, Save The Last Dance For Me and Under The Boardwalk. The show presents their story, as well as the story of how George and Faye managed them.

Miles Anthony Daley and Carly Mercedes Dyer do a great job of conveying the chemistry between the couple. Along with the show’s other male actors, Daley is required to play multiple roles, often in quick succession with super-quick costume changes. The whole cast consists of only six performers, who don’t always have time to fully develop their characters on stage - a fact which may occasionally leave you finding the story difficult to follow if you’re not already familiar with The Drifters’ history.

Dyer as Faye delivers a stand-out performance, making a big impact with her powerful voice. The first-ever African American female music manager, Faye faced misogyny, prejudice and systemic racism as she fought hard to coordinate the group’s success following George’s death in 1967. Her resilience, determination, bravery and unwavering commitment to the cause is beautifully conveyed by the 37-year-old actress. 

The story of The Drifters is also the story of Faye’s relationship with her daughter, Tina (Jaydah Bells-Ricketts), which is played out through conversations they have with one another. In fact, Tina’s input has played a significant part in bringing The Drifters Girl to the stage.

Simple but effective sets - digital images are used as backdrops, signifying locations such as TV and recording studios - help bring the story to life. Bright and colourful costumes, including dapper suits and an enviable and stylish wardrobe of clothes belonging to Faye, also play their part in establishing the era for the audience, while well-choreographed dance routines and a live band ensure the energy level remains impressively high.

There are some thought-provoking moments, too, exploring difficulties encountered by The Drifters as their career developed, not least among which was abuse from others in the music industry and undisguised racism whilst touring their show. But while The Drifters Girl doesn’t step away from addressing such hard-hitting material, it is first and foremost a feelgood theatrical experience; a celebration of a pioneering woman who broke down barriers in a white- and male-dominated industry, and whose determination and robust approach to business helped power the group to phenomenal success.

Last night’s performance was greatly enjoyed by an appreciative audience, who required precious little encouragement from the cast to stand, dance, clap and sing along to the finale medley. I’m happy to say that I left the theatre not only having thoroughly enjoyed myself but also with some of The Drifters’ biggest and best hits rattling around in my head on the car journey home.     

4 Stars

The Drifters Girl was reviewed by Sue Hull on Tuesday 16 April at Birmingham Hippodrome, where it shows until Saturday 20 April