Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine were one of the most enduring pop acts of the 1980s with many top selling albums and singles. So, a new musical, On Your Feet, celebrating the partnership of Gloria and her husband Emilio, is a welcome treat for 80s pop and musical theatre fans alike.
Not only is On Your Feet the inspiring love story of Emilio and Gloria, but also a celebration of everyone’s love affair with music. From Latin Jazz’s Cuban origins, via rhythmic pop on the streets of Miami, to international stardom challenging the heavyweights of rock, the musical charts Miami Sound Machine’s path to success.
As subtle staging with colourful lighting and projected backdrops add to the shows ever-increasing feelgood factor, the band under the direction of Danny Belton reignite hi-fidelity memories of classic hits such as Rhythm Is Gonna Get You, Conga, Get on Your Feet, and 1-2-3. Equally, the ensemble cast perform them with a deserved uplifting energy appropriate to a pop concert!
Philippa Stefani not only nails the hits pitch perfect, but makes a glorious Gloria, right down to the 80s stage costumes, and most importantly, the bubbly energetic delivery. There are some tender moments too, as she nurses and later duets with her sick father, Jose, played with conviction by Elia Lo Tauro. When Someone Comes Into Your Life is a particular highlight, in which both performers illustrate the love and respect between a father and a daughter.
George Ioannides brings the personality of Emilio to the forefront bringing romance, drive and warmth to the man who encouraged Gloria to step into the spotlight. It was certainly good to find out more about the man behind the music via a great performance!
Madalena Alberto as tough mum, Gloria Fajatdo, and Laura Friedrich Tejero as Gloria’s comical but encouraging grandmother, Consuelo also deliver magical performances. Miss Alberto particularly gets to shine in a flash back sequence performing Mi Tiera while Miss Tejero also recreates a live Conga scene on stage with Gloria as the ensemble cast dance with some of the audience.
On Your Feet’s ensemble cast really work hard on the dance sequences, bringing much in the way of co-ordination and fun to the performance. Two of the shows highlights for me were the moving ensemble performances of Wrapped and Reach. Both songs followed Gloria in the aftermath of her accident but really demonstrated an outpouring of love and affection to her.
On Your Feet certainly lives up to its name as the cast return to the stage for the hit-fuelled finale. Don’t miss this Estefan-tastic show!
On Your Feet continues at Wales Millennium Centre until October 26.