Star rating: *****
Gloria Estefan is the voice of my childhood and beyond, her sound way back from the Miami Sound Machine days never seems to date and the story of her rise to fame is a fantastic basis for a musical.
Based on the story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, the show charts the key moments in Gloria’s life. From a soulful, bright child who was always singing; following on through to her remarkable recovery from a coach accident in later adult life. The musical shows us all of the important relationships throughout her life to date too, notably as a granddaughter, daughter, sister, wife and mother. The knockbacks from the powers whom she and Emilio needed on side to catapult her music and talents to a mainstream audience also form a strong linear as the story gives us an insight into her musical successes and struggles.
Gloria’s superb back catalogue of hits are naturally used as the soundtrack, from ‘1-2-3’ to ‘Conga’, ‘Don’t Want To Lose You Now’ and of course, ‘Get On Your Feet’. The tracks are sung in spectacular fashion by Christine Prades as Gloria herself. She’s a wonder, it’s easy to see why she was cast and I could listen to her all night. Her chemistry with George Ioannides as Emilio was on point and together they were a force to be reckoned with. Madalena Alberto who’s long been a favourite of mine is outstanding as Gloria Fajardo, Gloria’s mother – she has a few moments to shine and makes the most of every one. Elia Lo Taura also puts in an impressive performance a Gloria’s father. He suffered from MS and it can have been no mean feat to have portrayed that on stage. Karen Mann stole the show as Consuelo, she really was the lynchpin of the family and her wondrous comic timing made the character marvellously engaging. Holly McDonagh was a delight as young Gloria and Alejandro Puentes Motato was equally entertaining as Nayib/Young Emilio/Jeremy.
The ensemble are also sensational and incredibly strong in vocal ability and in the dance numbers, in fact I’d go so far as to say that a more solid ensemble I’ve not seen in a long time. They wowed with the eye-catching choreography from Sergio Trujillo.
Jerry Mitchell has directed a masterpiece which deserves as wide an audience as possible. The tale is one of love, hope, tragedy and strength as well as an abundance of musical talent. If you love Gloria Estefan you will adore this show and if you’re not familiar with her or not necessarily a fan, go and see this and you son will be. Book your tickets here for the limited run at London Coliseum: https://www.londonboxoffice.co.uk/on-your-feet-tickets
Photo credits: Johan Persson