REVIEW: THE DRIFTERS GIRL @ THE GARRICK THEATRE
🎭 The Drifters Girl
📍 Garrick Theatre, 2 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0HH
🗓 Friday 26th August 2022
PERFECTION FROM START TO FINISH
Last night I returned to London's Garrick Theatre to see The Drifters Girl for the first time since Felicia Boswell has taken on the titular role of Faye Treadwell and once again this small company blew me away.
Boswell, who won an EMMY award for her role in NBC's Jesus Christ Superstar LIVE and who is making her West End debut, has taken on the role originated by Beverley Knight so had some big shoes to fill and an even bigger voice to compete with! She completely embodied the role and acted with passion and authoritativeness. She was likeable and her voice was outstanding. The way she builds up a song was incredible and at times her voice has a likeness to global superstar Tina Turner. Her performance of songs such as Harlem Child and Nobody Like Me were flawless and her rendition of Stand By Me was filled with raw emotion and had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end.
The Drifters Girl follows the story of Faye Treadwell, who alongside her husband George, managed the career of the group from their humble beginnings, through their many personnel changes and onto chart success. The story is told well and acted out with sensitivity and utter believability throughout.
It's somewhat unusual for a jukebox musical such as this to focus on the story of a manager rather than the group itself, but this somewhat unknown story is intriguing and exciting. Treadwell had a lot of obstacles in her path which were mainly due to the institutional sexism and racism that she faced.
With The Drifters there is a huge back catalogue of songs to choose from which meant that the songs chosen fit the story really well and there were hardy any lyric changes which sometimes occurs to fit the narrative.
There were over 60 members of the group over the years and all these parts and more were played by just four actors! The guys were sensational and with every role they played, their voices changed as well as their tone and physicality. Each of them fully committed to each part they were portraying and each separate character was easily distinguishable. I particularity admired the clever way they showed when there were multiple line up changes through the song Rat Race.
The ease of transition between the various roles is testament to just how talented these boys are.
Olivier award winning Adam J Bernard took on the role of George Treadwell (& others). His velvet tongued vocals were a delight to listen to and he was consistently strong throughout. He acted his parts with strong determination and really showed the love that George had for Faye.
Ethan Davis, making his West End debut, portrayed Johnny Moore, Gerhart Thrasher (& others). The dashing Davis exudes confidence as he gives a dazzling performance. His vocals are sensational and he is a real joy to watch on the stage. With talent like his, there's no doubt that he will have a great career.
Curtis Scott was Clive McPhatter, Lover Paterson (& others). Scott's smooth vocals shine throughout. His acting skills are great too and he is utterly convincing. He oozes sex appeal from the stage as McPhatter and his characters, although not always likeable, are engaging.
It is worth noting that both Davis and Scott are covers. Covers have been the heartbeat of the West End since theatres reopened last summer. When you have covers as talented as these boys, you know that your show is in safe hands. If you were unaware that they were covers you would have no idea. They were both note perfect throughout and never put a foot wrong.
Tosh Wanogho-Maud was absolutely breathtaking as Ben E. King, Rudy Lewis (& others). He perhaps showed the greatest versatility of all because each of his characters were so different. When he performed Stand By Me you could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium as the audience watched and listened in awe.
What I love about this show is that there is no stand out star. Each member of this hardworking cast have equal billing and are equally talented. The high octane performances had me dancing in my seat and singing along from the very start. I just smiled the whole way through watching this talented company gave a masterclass of professionalism and performance.
There is also a sixth member of the cast. Several young girls share the role of the Treadwell's daughter and at this performance the part was played by Tahlia Olarewaju.
The Drifters Girl is NOT TO BE MISSED. The show is playing at the Garrick Theatre until 15th October this year so book now and you won't be disappointed.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence.