REVIEW - Drifters Girl at Birmingham’s Hippodrome had promising premise but did not fulfill its potential - The Solihull Observer

REVIEW - Drifters Girl at Birmingham’s Hippodrome had promising premise but did not fulfill its potential

Solihull Editorial 17th Apr, 2024   0

I spent my teenage years and beyond playing in a band during the 60/70s where we appeared on the same bill as many of the worlds top artists and groups. When I mentioned to my dear friend and fellow old rocker, Nigel Wright that I was off to review this new musical ‘The Drifters Girl’ at the Hippodrome, he reminded me that we played with them four times and on each occasion The Drifters in the dressing room were different.

 

Having seen the show, now I know why! – Like a football team, the players change, but the name remains the same. Of course, all groups have personnel changes but it seems The Drifters did it more than the guards at Buckingham Palace.

Cards on the table – I love all of The Drifters songs – they are some of the best from an era of exciting music.  I wasn’t expecting much plot-wise – a simple jukebox musical with a paper-thin storyline. Something along the lines of what the late, great impresario Bill Kenwright and his partner Laurie Mansfield perfected – boy meets girl in first act – split up at interval and get back together end of Act two. This tale wedged between a mighty period songbook.

Well, the period song book is there alright – but despite the ‘Girl’ in the title this is no jolly love tale but rather a complicated and repetitive account, narrated to the girl (Jaydah Bell-Ricketts) by her mother Faye Treadwell (Carly Mercedes Dyer) – The Drifters owner/manager and all things in-between

In addition to Ricketts and Dyer there are just four other cast members who juggle a multitude of roles – so fast I found it impossible to keep track of who’s who and why.




That’s to take nothing away from the undoubted singing, dancing and acting talents of Miles Anthony Daley, Ashford Campbell, Tarik Frimpong and Daniel Haswell – all are skilled performers who give of their best from the get-go to the finale.

Ms Mercedes Dyer also has a fabulous belting voice too and her solo numbers were some of the shows highlights.


On the technical side, Ben Cracknell’s lighting design is original and clever with its moving neon bars framing the scenes and bringing a kaleidoscopic feel to the show.

This story of a black woman’s struggles to overcome misogynists and racists to become a respected businesswoman in the music industry should be explosive. Sadly, any rockets never get off the launch pad – the book is textually dry – the narrative lacks lustre and is too often spoken in lists – not dialogue.

The best bit of the show was the walkdown where a traditional singalong at the end had me on my feet along with everyone else – not really in praise, but in celebration of being ‘Under The Boardwalk’ once again.

The Drifters’ Girl runs at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, April 20. Click here for times, tickets and more information.

 

***

Review by Euan Rose

Euan Rose Reviews

 

 

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