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The Drifters Girl - Theatre Royal Nottingham Review

Reviewed by Mark Johnson
Tickets were gifted in return for an honest review

The highs and lows of The Drifters and the woman behind the talent play out alongside an amazing array of songs from the group in The Drifters Girl.

Carly Mercedes Dyers as Faye Treadwell and the company of The Drifters Girl. Photo by The Other Richard

The musical was nominated for Best New Musical at the 2022 Olivier Awards and attracts a wide range of audience members at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal where it plays this week as part of its current UK and Ireland tour.

The Drifters Girl does what the title suggests and focuses on Faye Treadwell, a fantastic Carly Mercedes Dyer, the unshakeable manager behind the group. She is left to manage on her own after her husband George tragically passes away. This was in the 60s at the time of racial prejudice and when women were less respected than they may be today. Carly navigates the role with ease and a heart that is powerful to watch unfold. 

The group and its rotating lineup of members are portrayed by four actors who multi-role effortlessly. Miles Anthony Daley has a gorgeous voice and matches well with Carly as husband George. He has a couple of striking solos that really hit emotionally. Ashford Campbell, Tarik Frimpong and Daniel Haswell all could be superstar vocalists on their own bringing tight harmonies and soulful solos that elevate hit after hit in the show. Their acting is faultless too.

Jaydah Bell-Ricketts completes the cast as Girl, the daughter of Faye and George, and that lends some beautifully emotive moments of connection that grounds Faye. The story is told through Faye to Girl with reflections up to that point and a trial looming over the rights of The Drifters name which culminates the story.

The music is obviously a huge selling point to the show and the soundtrack features 25 songs including ‘Kissin’ in the Back Row of the Movies’, ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’, ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’ and my personal favourite ‘You’re More Than A Number In My Little Red Book’. A great-sounding band under the musical direction of Dustin Conrad breathes new life into these songs. Songs are often interspersed with the dialogue and at times some of the spoken words are lost.

Miles Anthony Daley, Tarik Frimpong, Tré Copeland-Williams, Ashford Campbell, as The Drifters. Photo by The Other Richard.

Anthony Ward’s largely bare set combines with Ben Cracknell’s excellent lighting and Andrzej Goulding’s video design to transport us to a variety of locations, from recording studio, to hotel receptions and even to The London Palladium. At times it feels like you’re at a real concert, others it all reveals cleverly for visuals that land with great impact.

Ed Curtis’ book doesn’t shy away from the racism that Faye and the group faced and this masks still to the 2024 that we find ourselves in today. As the band begins a UK tour, Faye is constantly belittled at hotel receptions who simply dismiss their presence by saying they don’t have the rooms available. These themes must sit alongside the music. Hopefully, it can educate audiences as well as entertain them. 

The fast-paced show plays out over an hour each act and the brisk pace can make it difficult to keep up with who is who at times and as mentioned already the dialogue could be lost at times. 

Whether you’re a fan of the group or their music or this is your first encounter The Drifters Girl delivers epic music and soulful performances. The story of Faye Treadwell, a black woman whose name is rightly etched into history, and long may this show celebrate her. 


The Drifters Girl plays at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal until Saturday 24th February 2024. Tickets are available from The tour then continues until 11th May 2024. You can find full dates and venues at

The Company of The Drifters Girl. Photo by The Other Richard

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