Words by Simon Button
It takes a big show to fill the majestic but cavernous London Coliseum but On Your Feet! is more than up to the task. The script falls flat in places but the performances are terrific and the music has such exuberance there are times you worry the roof might fly off.
This is the story of songstress extraordinaire Gloria Estefan, from her humble roots in Cuba to her early Spanish-language successes and eventually her world-conquering crossover into the infectious Latin pop of such huge hits as ‘Dr Beat’, ‘1-2-3’ and ‘Rhythm Is Gonna Get You’.
It’s also the story of Gloria’s courtship and marriage to Emilio Estefan. They’re still together 40-plus years later and they’ve had no public bust-ups, so it’s a love story that’s all hearts and flowers and doesn’t offer much dramatic meat.
Drama comes instead in the form of Glo’s disapproving mother and, of course, the 1990 bus crash that saw her hospitalised with a fractured spine that could have ended her career.
Estefan’s a fighter, though, and it’s her fighting spirit that direct-from-Broadway star Christie Prades captures so well.
Prades is also a great singer and a fine dancer and she sparkles at the centre of the show’s big musical numbers, which under the choreography of Sergio Trujillo sizzle with Latin hotness.
George Ioannides is a handsome, charming Emilio, Madalena Alberto is perfect as Gloria’s unhappy mum and Karen Mann is very funny as her pushy grandma.
The latter is a bit of a cartoon character in a show that could do with a bit more depth but it’s great fun and ends with a megamix that has everyone on their feet.
Get down to the Coliseum because, to pinch the subtitle from Gloria’s 1996 hit ‘You’ll Be Mine’, it’s party time.
On Your Feet! The Story Of Emilio And Gloria Estefan is at the London Coliseum until August 31st, before a UK tour from September 3rd. For great deals on tickets and shows click here.