Edinburgh Playhouse – 2nd June 2017. Reviewed by Linda McLaughlan
For one night only at Edinburgh Playhouse I enjoyed the production of Stand By Me – A Celebration of Ben E King and The Drifters. The evening got off to a great start with the audience clapping and singing along from the very first song – Stand By Me.
The show begins with the band , group and dancers together on stage as Gospel Choir singers which highlights for me the background talent of everyone. Michael Williams a member of the Drifters from 2005 to 2016 is forefront to telling the story of the Drifters from its origins through the use of songs, video clips and radio extracts’. As the story unfolds of the struggles of black segregation in the 1950’s, the fight for recognition in civil rights and the band leaving venues through back doors and the overwhelming threat of conscription into the army which impacted the line up of the group. Songs throughout the story had the audience singing and clapping included hits such as ‘Ruby Ruby’ ‘Up on The Roof.’ ‘On Broadway,’ ‘Sweet for My Sweet’ are just a few that were enjoyed.
The heartfelt tragedy from the death of Rudy Lewis 1964 was dedicated by the song “Dream the Impossible Dream’ as the background shows a clip of segregation of the time but the words are apt to say what one man can achieve in his life. The falsetto is incredible, a perfect end to Act 1.
The bands story continues in the 1960s after the death of Rudy Lewis with Johnny Moore joining the bands line up. The bands success goes on with “Under the Boardwalk” again with the audience joining in clapping and singing along The Drifters arrive in the UK in 65/66 and we look at historical events of the time as well as popular music being heard in Vietnam like The Beatles, Beachboy’s.
The death of George Treadwell brings a beautiful rendition of “I’ll never love this way again” which is well received by the audience.Into the 70s and the Drifters are dropped by their record label Atlantic which results in the group relocating to UK and signing with Bell Records. The Drifters are requested to appear on the Royal Variety Performance at this the audience are sent into overdrive with hit after hit of songs which were on Top of the Pops over the 70s and 80s an appearance at the London Palladium in 1987 with the Song ‘There goes my first love” is followed by another change in the Drifters Line up. This leads on to the induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and being invited to The White House to Sing for The President Of The United States.
The show finishes with “Come on Over” with every man, woman and child on their feet singing, clapping and dancing to a rapturous end to a fantastic production that has shown the history of one of Rock & Rolls premier groups who deserve all the accolades bestowed on them
I would recommend everyone takes the opportunity and spend the evening watching this fantastic production which takes you back to the time of Rock N Roll and no matter what generation you belong to, this is a feel good show for everyone