Gloria Estefan is the next singing sensation to have their story turned into a musical. The star has been heavily involved in the show that first opened on Broadway in 2015 and, although it doesn’t reinvent the ‘jukebox’ wheel, it still gives the audience a night of pure entertainment.
Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s smash-hit musical comes to London direct from Broadway for a strictly limited season. ON YOUR FEET! is the inspiring true love story of Emilio and Gloria and charts their journey from its origins in Cuba, onto the streets of Miami and finally to international superstardom.
For someone my age this is definitely a show where you constantly think ‘I didn’t know song that was Gloria’s’, but for everyone of all generations the music is the highlight. There’s a lovely mix of the softer, emotional songs and the Latin disco hits that make you want to dance in your seat. So many people do! And that’s before the cast gets you out of your seat to boogie in the aisles during the act one finale. The band are part of the action too, hidden behind the set during the scenes and brought out for the big production numbers to ramp up the sound and create the real gig feeling!
Second only to the music is the choreography. The show has a sizzling selection of routines and plenty of Latin American moves brilliantly performed by the ensemble. Complete with impressive lifts, great technical finesse and more skirt-shaking than you can shake a stick at, Sergio Trujillo’s choreography is perfect for the show’s vibe.
The musical needs a powerful lead and it has that in droves with alternate Gloria, Philippa Stefani. She gives an excellent performance as the singer, oozing star quality and hitting some stunning notes. She draws you into her story with ease and encourages empathy from the audience through all of Gloria’s ups and downs.
A mention must also go to Karen Mann as Gloria’s grandmother, Consuelo. By far the funniest character on the stage, her gags are hilarious and she nails them in every way with great comic timing and delivery.
Despite the great packaging, there’s still the issue of fatigue, and sadly On Your Feet has the echoes of so many biopic musicals before it – the struggle to get their music heard, the concerned family member against the music career and the inevitable death of a loved one all have hints of Tina and Beautiful before it. It even has the sliding doors in the set! It just feels like the same story with a different celebrity. That’s not to tarnish what they’ve achieved here, a great show with rhythm and heart, but how long is it going to be before audiences get bored of the same format? Doing something different would make this show stand out from the crowd while still making money from avid fans.
Putting that aside, it’s without doubt that if this had been the first of its kind made then it would still be hailed as a good show. The party atmosphere goes from start to finish and I went home humming Conga while shaking my hips. That’s the least you’d expect from a jukebox musical about the loves of Gloria and Emilio Estefan.
On Your Feet is showing at the London Coliseum for a limited season until 31 August before touring into 2020. Buy tickets for both online.
Photography by Johan Persson
With thanks to London Box Office who gifted tickets to the show in exchange for a review. Views are completely my own.