The Drifters Girl at The Bristol Hippodrome

Posted on: 2024-01-11

Our rating:

Don’t miss out, it really is a must see show!

I grew up listening, singing and dancing, to the harmonious vocals of ‘The Drifters‘. Every family party, every Christmas, my granddad would play his LP vinyl records, all the classics... “Come on over to my place”, “Hello, Happiness”, “Kissin’ in the back row of the movies”, “Saturday night at the movies”, “There goes my first love”, “Under the boardwalk”, “When my little girl is smiling”, “Save the last dance for me”, “You’re more than a number in my little red book”, and my absolute favourite “Stand by me” (famously sung by Ben. E. King). A smorgasbord of all these classic hits, and many more ’bangers’ were there in the show tonight to delight the audience.

The Drifters Girl at The Bristol Hippodrome

The musical depicted the struggles of Faye Treadwell, a black woman managing and promoting the American Doo-Wop, R&B, Soul vocal group ‘The Drifters’. Faye continuously fought to be heard, she was a black woman in a white man’s world. She was a fiercely independent force to be reckoned with. Faye doggedly fought against racism and sexism to become the only black female record promoter of the time. Faye and her husband George led, managed, and supported ‘The Drifters’  through three Golden Eras of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’, and into the Vocal Group’s and  Rock & Roll’s halls of Fame. 65 years on, ‘The Drifters’ are still going strong and are back on tour performing their classic hits from the last six decades. They have been listed among the top 100 greatest artists of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.

The show tells the story of the highs and lows, the unstable and constantly changing line up of the group (with 60 members drifting in and out of the group), contract and wage issues, the legal battles concerning the formation of other splinter ‘Drifters‘ groups and ownership of ‘The Drifters’ name. It tells the story of George’ vision for the group, and then Faye’s struggles and determination to continue with George’s vision, to do what she thought was best, whilst dealing with her heartache after George’s untimely death in 1967, how she pushed on through it all on her own, often sacrificing family life, to carry on George’s legacy, and as a role model for the sake of, and benefit to, their daughter Tina. Faye was an inspiration to women and black people and deserves to have her story sung out loudly and proudly. George and Faye’s daughter Tina has worked with producers to see that their story is told both in the West End and on Broadway.

The Drifters Girl at The Bristol Hippodrome
Carly Mercedes Dyer played the lead role of “The Drifter’s Girl”, Faye Treadwell. Carly wowed us with an amazing performance, strong, inspirational, witty, and sassy. She held the audience with her amazing rendition of “Stand by Me”, quite different from Ben. E. King’s version, but equally powerful and poignant. She is a powerhouse, a fantastic vocalist, and like Faye, a force to be reckoned with.


‘The Drifters’ male cast members had a challenging task, their performance calling for them to often play multiple character roles, in quick succession... and they smashed it! The dance routines were mesmerising and the vocals were outstanding, notable especially when they sang a cappella.  


I didn’t know how I was going to be able to control myself when I saw signs dotted around the Hippodrome asking for theatre goers to refrain from singing along or dancing.... I mean the music of the Drifters! How can you not?


This performance and its music stirred up personal memories for me of days gone by. Its transported me on a roller-coaster of emotions- I laughed, I cried, and more importantly it made me think. The story raises you up with its’ music, and just as quickly drops you with its sobering moments of anger due to the injustices of racism, and sadness with the deaths of Faye’s husband, George Treadwell, and ‘Drifter’ Rudy Lewis (a suspected drug overdose aged just 27). However, don’t miss out, it really is a must see show! I was sorry when the show ended with “You’re more than a number in my little red book” (this was the final musical number listed in the programme) as I knew the evening was sadly coming to an end. However, after the greatly deserved standing ovation at the end of the performance, we were rewarded with a medley of all the hits, a get-up-and-dance finale. The crowd were upstanding, and clapped, and sang, and danced their way out of the theatre!


The Drifters Girl continues at The Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 13 January 2024.


For all upcoming Bristol Hippodrome shows click here


Article by:

Colette Hand

Colette Hand, BA graduate of Bath Spa University and retired primary school teacher. Now an avid crafter for charity and volunteer shop assistant for SENSE charity. Enjoys time spent with twin grandchildren.