The Drifters Girl welcomes a new cast at Garrick Theatre
Faye Treadwell’s life is the genuinely inspiring story of a woman of colour fighting against the odds in a business and era entirely dominated by men. The Drifters Girl – a jukebox musical centred around her life as the manager of the Drifters – features an outstanding cast with a lovely production, but it sadly still sells the story too short.
Of course, the music by the Drifters is full of one earworm after another, and impersonators Adam J Bernard, Tarinn Callender, Matt Henry and Tosh Wanogho-Maud are all outstanding performers and musically flawless. Felicia Boswell – delivering her West End debut as Treadwell herself – has enormous stage presence and plenty of character to go along with it. If the show were just about the music it would genuinely be good – There Goes my Baby and Stand by Me are fantastic numbers, performed to perfection.
However, the plot lacks the emotional and narrative depth required for the audience to truly experience Treadwell’s struggles. Sure, the music is the heart of the show, but when it leaves no room for any genuine character development, it makes the musical feel empty, like it’s all just a shell. Personal tragedies in Treadwell’s life aren’t built up to and we don’t really get insight into her thinking – instead, we get individual sad songs telling us how to feel at certain points. This may partly be due to the nature of jukebox musicals, but it’s also a result of having a cast of merely five central performers, only one of whom is an actual character – the other four play a whole range of characters, including the historically volatile Drifters crew, making it difficult to connect beyond anyone but the protagonist.
Nevertheless, despite these issues, The Drifters Girl is a highly engaging musical, if just for the musical numbers, and may genuinely encourage a greater look into the life of Faye Treadwell. There’s a reason the Drifters were as successful as they were at the time, and director Maisey Bawden’s production, with a stunning set by Anthony Ward, certainly does the music justice. It’s perhaps not the musical Treadwell deserves, but it’s great for an evening of superb music.
The Drifters Girl welcomes a new cast is at Garrick Theatre until 12th February 2023. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the production here: