The story of the unstoppable music duo, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, has been lovingly captured in the biopic musical, On Your Feet! Every once in a while, a show comes along where you’re forced to ignore your critical thoughts and enjoy it for the entertaining experience that it is, and that’s exactly what happened with this musical. It’s fun, energetic with fantastic choreography and many of Gloria and the Miami Sound Machine’s greatest hits. In other words, if you succumb to its mystic qualities, the Rhythm is Going to Get You.
Since the Broadway run of On Your Feet (2016 review here), the show has toured the US and has now arrived on the West End at the London Coliseum for a limited run. The message of the show is simple, get on your feet and make things happen. From humble beginnings in Miami, Gloria and Emilio boldly embarked on a music career where they faced resistance from record labels who initially deemed their music as ‘too latin’ for the American charts. But through persistence and determination, they became one of the first recording artists to successfully cross over from the Latin to the US charts and later reach international stardom.
If you’d like to be critical there’s lots that you could focus on. For example, the musical bursts into song often, and at times feels disruptive rather than a carefully placed fit. But I was eventually won over with the introduction of each well-loved number including ‘Wrapped’, ‘Conga’, ‘Rhythm is Gonna Get You’ , ‘1-2-3’ and ‘On Your Feet’. The show is truly set alight during the breakout dance numbers thanks to choreographer Sergio Trujillo and the electrifying band. Our central characters are energetically performed by Christie Prades as Gloria and George Ioannides as Emilio and Karen Mann as Gloria’s Abuela is hilarious.
Biopic musicals are becoming unique vehicles which can cement the legacy of artists, and On Your Feet does just this. The Estefans should be proud that through this creation, their story will live on in such a lively and enjoyable show. British audiences may be too reserved to get on their feet by the end, but I can say that I certainly did.
On Your Feet! is playing at the London Colosieum Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centreand runs until 31 August at the time of writing.