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Delightful Doo-wop Beats These Cool Difters on Saturday Night at the Movies: PATRICK MARMION Reviews


The Drifter’s Girl (Garrick Theatre, London)

Evaluation:

The Drifters were a good fix for a generation growing up in the fifties and sixties, thanks to toe-tapping tunes like Under The Boardwalk and Save The Last Dance For Me.

Now they’re back, in a musical tribute show starring Beverly Knight as Faye Treadwell, the brave young “girl” who took the title.

Treadwell ran The Drifters like a football club for nearly 50 years – first with husband George, then alone after his death – until her retirement in 2001.

The quartet, beloved for its illustrious harmony, has had nearly 40 members over the decades – most famously Ben E. King.

The Drifters were a good fix for a generation growing up in the fifties and sixties, thanks to toe-tapping tunes like Under The Boardwalk and Save The Last Dance For Me.  Now they are back in a musical tribute show at Garrick Theatre

The Drifters were a good fix for a generation growing up in the fifties and sixties, thanks to toe-tapping tunes like Under The Boardwalk and Save The Last Dance For Me. Now they are back in a musical tribute show at Garrick Theatre

Faye and George retained the hotly contested trademark rights, and fended off attempts by some of these many “Drifters” to establish rival teams.

Connecting her story here with her young daughter Tina, Faye describes how she made her way into the world of man’s music production, remembering her ten-year marriage to George and recounting the copyright controversies thereafter.

Delivered with its rich gospel song, Knight’s singles tell of Faye’s struggle as a country girl in Arkansas with an accent like the banjo she’s trying to cut into the Big Apple.

There are fertile variations in some of The Drifters’ lesser-known numbers, from the challenging opening follow Me and Harlem Child through Tina Turner’s treatment of Without You to the spiritual lamentation of Nobody but Me – linked to George’s death in 1967.

But as much as we sympathize with Treadwell’s trials as a woman of color in a racist misogynistic world, what really drives the house – if not Kissin’ In The Back Row – is the fun and hilarious Knight movie shared by the four Knight stars through The Songbook of Drifters.

The Honor Show stars Beverly Knight as Faye Treadwell, the brave girl who took the title.  Treadwell ran The Drifters like a football club for nearly 50 years - first with husband George, then alone after his death - until her retirement in 2001

The Honor Show stars Beverly Knight as Faye Treadwell, the brave girl who took the title. Treadwell ran The Drifters like a football club for nearly 50 years – first with husband George, then alone after his death – until her retirement in 2001

From the start, Adam J. Bernard, Taryn Callender, Matt Henry, Tosh and Wanugu-Maud have wowed us with blistering Come On Over To My Place hits and hits including Saturday Night At The Movies, Stand By Me and There Goes My Baby.

The four offers nice engraving as well; From Callender’s self-obsessed Nat King Cole (whom Faye quipped “needs a ladder to transcend himself”) to Wanogho-Maud’s awkward and lovable Rudy Lewis, who struggles with his homosexual life.

Bernard plays it cool as George’s husband, and there’s also “Good To See You, To See You Nice” from Henry as Bruce Forsyth, when the band hit London Palladium in the 1970s.

The serious mood sometimes rises every time men step into one of the big numbers in this elegant and elegant Jonathan Church production.

Right from the start, Adam J. Bernard, Taryn Callender, Matt Henry, Tosh and Wanugu-Maud have wowed us with blistering Come On Over To My Place hits and hits including Saturday Night At The Movies, Stand By Me and There Goes My Baby

Right from the start, Adam J. Bernard, Taryn Callender, Matt Henry, Tosh and Wanugu-Maud have wowed us with blistering Come On Over To My Place hits and hits including Saturday Night At The Movies, Stand By Me and There Goes My Baby

Immaculately etched, with Karen Bruce’s fast-paced choreography synchronized with signature harmonies, mixing percussion and brass.

And it looks sexy, too, thanks to all those smart, shiny suits—and styling by Anthony Ward.

His sliding panels with geometric patterns and neon light bars recreate the feel of the band’s album covers over the years.

So it may be hard to get emotionally involved in Fi’s budgets and litigation stories, but the silver heads bobbing in the stalls in rhythm to the beats are a poignant sight to see.

Forget Saturday night at the cinema – I expect Wednesday morning at Garrick’s to be her place.



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