On Your Feet! at the London Coliseum
“This is what an American looks like! “exclaims Emilio Estefan (George Ioannides) as the crowd shrieks with applause. On Your Feet! tells the true story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan and how she rose from a shy young girl with a good voice to a multi-national superstar.
On Your Feet! Is a lively, upbeat and extremely colourful story about the rise to stardom in the face of sceptical musical moguls who do not believe Latin-sounding music could appeal to an audience. It also focuses on the relationship between Emilio and Gloria, who have been married for 40 years, and the strain that fame and touring the world put on the singer’s relationship with her family. The musical also shows how, in the face of sceptics, the Estefans and the Sound Machine worked to ensure people heard their music.
The stage is beautifully designed with changing backdrops to reflect Miami, Vietnam, an Italian wedding and, most impressively, a moving mini-tour of Las Vegas. The music is made up almost exclusively of the Miami Sound Machine and Gloria’s hits, including a lively rendition of Conga, the group’s first hit. Hoy is another strong single performed well by the cast.
The music is played by a very enthusiastic live band and the numbers are performed by twirling, leaping and sweeping dancers who really give it their all. Christie Prade has a strong, rich voice that sounds remarkably like the real Gloria. In terms of acing, Karen Mann steals the show as Gloria’s beloved Consuelo (grandmother) who is loud, cheeky and very supportive.
On Your Feet! Is high energy, a lot of fun to watch and has the audience dancing in front of their seats by the end. The story, however, could be a little deeper. We are repeatedly told that Gloria starts off as someone who is quite shy and doesn’t want the limelight, and we are frequently reminded that she is feeling drained and isn’t necessarily in love with her fame, but we are never really shown how she morphed from someone who avoided the limelight to the larger-than-life personality the real star became. The letters from fans are touching, but it would’ve been good to see a bit more of that side of the story.
Gloria and Emilio are clearly very much in love (they’ve been together for 40 years after all!) and there are several scenes that show how cute they are together – especially when Emilio asks for a kiss on his birthday on the 4th of July, before revealing he was born in March. He does come off, however, a little controlling and more focused on his wife’s career than her well-being.
On Your Feet! Will leave audiences smiling and humming all the way to the station, so whether a Gloria Estefan fan or not this new musical is well worth a watch.
Photos: Johan Persson
On Your Feet! is at the London Coliseum from 14th June until 31st August 2019 before continuing on its UK tour. For further information about venues and dates visit the show’s website here.