I have been a fan of Gloria Estefan’s music since childhood, listening to cassettes in the car and at home! When I first heard there was a musical about her life with husband Emilio, her career and family I had to get a ticket! When I was in New York a few years ago I was lucky enough to see On Your Feet! and I was blown away. Ana Villafañe played Gloria and the similarities were spot on! The show provided the energy and compassion that Gloria has put into her Live shows over the years in her amazing career.
I always said to people that I hoped it would come to the UK as unlike other Jukebox musicals this one has real passion, drama, a story line and some fabulous Estefan tunes! Currently on at London’s Coliseum for the summer before heading out on tour it’s fabulous to see the UK embracing the musical and getting up on their feet and doing the conga like they did in New York!
In On Your Feet! we get to hear about Gloria growing up and how she met Emilia Estefan of the Miami Latin Boys and helped forge her career in music but also how they fell in love.
Alexander Dinelaris’s book tells the story as we follow the schoolgirl Gloria to her first meeting with Emilio, a major fall-out with her mother, a move from Cuba to Miami and their battles with their American record label to break out of the Latin music market and cross-over to the English language one.
It’s interesting how the music is put into scenes and touching how rearrangements have been done for such songs as “Wrapped” and “Don’t want to lose you”. For me a highlight has always been the number “If I never got to tell you” a number written especially for the musical by Gloria and her daughter Emily. Here we are situated in hospital after Gloria’s tragic bus accident in the 90s and the scenes between Gloria’s mother (Madalena Alberto) and Gloria’s husband Emilio (George Ioannides) are beautiful to watch and I have to admit I shed a tear…or two!
Christie Prades played the role of Gloria Estefan in On Your Feet! on Broadway and also played the same role on the US tour of the show. Christie’s other credits include Vanessa in In the Heights and West Side Story. Here in London she grabs the crowd with her amazing vocals and gets you feeling the emotional rollercoaster Gloria rode from a teen to the American Musical Awards in the 90s.
George Ioannides plays Emilio and has appeared in the West End productions of Annie and Mamma Mia! and was most recently seen as Eduardo Cortez in An Officer and a Gentleman – The Musical at Curve, Leicester and on national tour. George Comes on stage in some shorts you won’t forget but leaves with the real heart and soul of Emilio. The stand out moment for George is the number in the second act with son in law singing alongside his mother in law.
The show is a night of uplifting Latino-pop that follows the two Cuban-Americans as they fall in love as youngsters in ‘70s Miami and go on to storm the charts as Miami Sound Machine and via Gloria’s successful solo career. Don’t expect a heavyweight plot, but if you like the songs and rhythms of Cuba then by all accounts they’re done justice via Sergio Trujillo’s kinetic choreography and a large, well-drilled band.
The cast is energetically led by Christie Prades as a fiery Gloria and a handsome George Ioannides as a suitably dreamy Emilio. But the real acting honours go to Madelena Alberto as Gloria’s estranged mother and José Fajardo played by Elia Lo Tauro (with a stunning performance of “When Someone Comes Into Your Life”) and Karen Mann as her grandmother who received a rapturous applause!
‘Are you ready to party?’, we’re asked just before the inevitable megamix finale, and the audience is more than ready to dance along as Kenneth Posner’s stadium lighting scans the stalls. Here the audience at On Your Feet! is on their feet to party and conga the night away!
On Your Feet! is at the London Coliseum until 31st August 2019 for tickets see online.