Tuesday, April 23

The Drifters Girl – Liverpool Empire

The Drifters Girl is the story of the R&B vocal group The Drifters, and the remarkable woman behind their success. The story follows the ever-changing line up of lead singers, backing singers, promoters, writers, and producers, with the one constant being the group’s robust manager, Faye Treadwell. It narrates how so many tried to cash in on The Drifters name, yet there can only ever really be one true ‘The Drifters.’

If, like me, you love going to the theatre to listen to great music, sang by quality singers, supported by a superb live band, with glamourous lighting and costumes, then this show is perfect for you. The singing was great throughout, and the inclusion of all of our favourite Drifters hits such as ‘Save the last dance for me’, ‘Saturday night at the moves’, and ‘Under the boardwalk’ made the show a phenomenal watch.

The Drifters, played by Miles Anthony Daley, Ashford Campbell, Tarik Frimpong, and Daniel Haswell, put in a showstopping, ultra-rehearsed performance. The vocals were stunning and the amount of quick changes (of both costume and character) could be likened to some of the great clown performances in theatre. ‘Come on over to my place’ was particularly well done, despite the fact that the dark undertones were lost on the audience slightly. It would be impossible to pick out one actor, as the four of them were superb, but the performances as Johnny Moore, George Treadwell, Clyde McPhatter, and Rudy Lewis were especially outstanding.

Without doubt, the performance of the evening was that of Carly Mercedes Dyer in the role of Faye Treadwell. A poignant and powerful performance both dramatically and vocally, Dyer is the glue that holds the production together. I was not especially enraptured by the arrangement of ‘Stand by me’ that ended Act 1, but the powerhouse delivery of it by Dyer was truly something to behold. In truth, Dyer’s performance alone would be well worth any ticket price to witness. Dyer embodied what it was to be a black woman working in management in the music industry (or any industry) throughout the middle of the 20th century. This part of the story should not be overlooked, as Treadwell’s plight and determination are exactly what made The Drifters what they are.

The choreography was very Drifter-like, and there was real joy in watching The Drifters age and develop as time went on. The costume designer has done a fabulous job in supporting this – the costumes were as perfect placed as in any professional production there has been.

The lighting was of a superb quality, and much of the show rested on this. The colours and shapes created by the lighting designer added a dimension to the show that just could not have been achieved in any other way. When a show is using minimal furniture/moveable set, the ownness is truly on the lighting designer to make the show move, and that it did.

Like any jukebox musical, if you enjoy the music of The Drifters this show would be the perfect watch for you. In truth the story is told without any real detail so that the songs can be the focal point, but this made for even a midweek audience having the time of their lives. The packed audience sang and danced all night, and the show is truly a resounding success.

Congratulations to all involved with The Drifters Girl tour.  This show deserves to be seen around the world.

The Drifters Girl runs at Liverpool Empire Theatre until 2nd March, then continues on its UK tour. https://www.atgtickets.com/venues/liverpool-empire/

Reviewer: Andrew Lee

Reviewed: 28th February 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.