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The Drifters Girl at the Garrick Theatre, London

The Drifters Girl – an all-around blast with Boswell giving a stand-out performance.

The Drifters Girl
THE DRIFTERS GIRL – Credit: Johan Persson

With a string of musical theatre features to her name (including Jesus Christ Superstar live on NBC, Motown The Musical, Memphis and Dreamgirls) and making her West End debut, the excitement to see Felicia Boswell tackle the role of powerhouse music manager Faye Treadwell was palpable in the theatre. Boswell is an Emmy Award winner and Grammy Award Nominee. She takes over from Beverley Knight.

Faye Treadwell the legendary manager of The Drifters, who, alongside her husband, fought for three decades to turn Atlantic Records’ hottest vocal group into a global phenomenon. Performing as a selection of the 60+ (!) members of The Drifters, and multi-rolling an endless number of smaller ensemble parts are Adam J Bernard, Tarinn Callender, Matt Henry and Tosh Wanogho-Maud, who were undeniably slick and charming, all given the opportunity to showcase their agile vocal abilities both in solo number and the ensemble tracks. Bravo to all four for a great performance.

The musical’s concept is to take us through the story of the 4-piece R&B/soul ‘boy’ band, The Drifters through the eyes of their manager, Faye Treadwell (Boswell) and her daughter. Covering all angles from their successes to their losses, highs and lows of both the long career of the band and Treadwell’s personal life this musical accurately showcases the trailblazing, no-nonsense attitude of Treadwell while highlighting the struggles of women and people of colour in 1970s America and Britain.

Tackling topics including war, sudden death and racism during the civil rights movement, The Drifter’s Girl successfully allows the audience to surrender to heartache at moments such as the deaths of George Treadwell (Adam J Bernard) and Rudy Lewis (Tosh Wanogho-Maud) but also feel uplifted in the hilarious ensemble moments such as Matt Henry’s skit as Mary (from Peter, Paul and Mary) and Tarinn Callender’s charming portrayal of lead vocalist Johnny Moore. The audience swayed back and forth as the Drifters glided us through the undeniably memorable and charismatic catalogue of this ever-changing group including the catchy, show-stopping numbers ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’, and ‘You’re More Than A Number In My Little Red Book’ that we all know and love. Boswell’s talents are indisputably solid and the audience can tell she is really fighting for Faye in a most powerful, exciting performance. She brings a fire and a strong vocal ability that pings to the back of the auditorium. The show has clearly settled into its rhythm, arguably relying a little heavily on the strong catalogue of songs to help steer the story along however Boswell and the supporting cast encourage the audience to really relax and enjoy the evening, with irresistible allure and charm that we come to associate with The Drifters.

To those who have seen The Drifters Girl before, I highly recommend revisiting to see Felicia Boswell’s interpretation as you will not be disappointed. The classic Drifters’ tunes speak for themselves and it is always worth a visit to the Garrick Theatre to hear them.

4 stars

Review by Kimberley Bourlet

Emmy award winner and Grammy nominated Broadway star Felicia Boswell (Motown, Memphis) stars in London’s hit musical, The Drifters Girl, with the sensational Adam J Bernard (Dreamgirls), Tarinn Callender (Hamilton), Matt Henry (Kinky Boots) and Tosh Wanogho – Maud (Showboat).

Featuring an unbelievable soundtrack packed full of show-stopping Drifters hits, including Save The Last Dance For Me, Under The Boardwalk, Kissin’ In The Back Row Of The Movies, Stand By Me, Come On Over To My Place and Saturday Night At The Movies.

Discover the remarkable story of The Drifters, one of the world’s greatest vocal groups, and the truth about the woman who made them. Faye Treadwell, the legendary manager of The Drifters, fought for three decades alongside her husband to turn Atlantic Records’ hottest vocal group into a global phenomenon.

From the highs of hit records and sell-out tours to the lows of legal battles and personal tragedy, The Drifters Girl charts the trailblazing efforts of the world’s first Africa n American, female music manager and how she refused to ever give up on the group she loved. Thirty years, and hundreds of hit songs later, there is no doubt that Faye Treadwell was and always will be, The Drifters Girl.

Garrick Theatre
2 Charing Cross Road London WC2H 0HH

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