London Theatre Review: On Your Feet!

Posted on 4 July 2019

On Your Feet! is a jukebox musical for die-hard fans of Gloria Estefan. It presents a brief biography of Gloria and Emilio Estefan using the greatest hits from Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine as references.  After success across South America and in the Latin American music market, Gloria Estefan became a cross-over artist, writing, singing and producing pop and dance music along with her husband Emilio and the Miami Sound Machine, enjoying worldwide success.

On Your Feet! dances around the timeline, with flashbacks to Gloria’s childhood and her parents’ life in pre-revolutionary Cuba. In the storytelling, there are a few hints at tensions between the ambitious taskmaster, Emilio and the determined, reserved and resilient Gloria. I would have liked the musical to explore their relationship more. It is evident that Gloria made sacrifices growing up, to keep her family afloat, which also set the foundation for her career as a singer-songwriter. We also learn of the difficulties Gloria Estefan had with her mother, who, initially, seems to have been envious of her daughter’s career, due to the disappointment with her own career as a professional singer.  

I question why the show ends at 1991 when Gloria returned to live performing at the American Music Awards only one year after her life-threatening and life-changing road traffic collision. Gloria and Emilio Estefan continued to enjoy more chart hits and even greater worldwide success throughout the 1990s, as well as having a daughter in 1994 in addition to their son. Amongst other achievements in the years after her comeback in 1991, Gloria won 3 Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. 

The 13-piece band in On Your Feet! are excellent and so too are the cast of dancers. I especially enjoyed their Latin dancing, including my favourites salsa and bachata. The set is minimal and the costumes are fun, in keeping with the decades, countries and neighbourhoods where Gloria and Emilio Estefan lived and worked. For me, there wasn’t quite enough character development. I was disappointed by the at-times pitchy vocals from the two actors playing Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Phillippa Stefani (who is the alternate Gloria Estefan) and George Ioannides respectively. Madelena Alberto as Gloria’s mother was consistently competent, especially in the scene when she was singing in a Cuban nightclub in the 1940s. Elia Lo Tauro as Gloria Estefan’s father revealed his vocal skills in the scene when Gloria was hallucinating about seeing her father as she lay in her hospital bed, struggling to survive from the car crash. Karen Mann as Consuelo was a scene-stealer; her character is funny, down to earth and very supportive of young Gloria. 

The finale of On Your Feet! is like a mini Gloria Estefan concert,  it does what it says on the tin: it gets the audience on their feet dancing and singing along!

Save up to £57 when you book On Your Feet! tickets!

On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan is only playing at the London Coliseum through the end of August, so be sure to take advantage of our amazing offer now and get tickets to this toe-tapping musical before it's too late!

🎟 Purchase On Your Feet! tickets now!

Tagged as
Sandra Howell

By Sandra Howell

Since I was a child and now as an adult, I have loved performing, as an amateur, in choirs and the theatre. As a theatre goer my tastes are broad, I relish musical theatre and dance.  I am passionate about plays by a huge range of writers. I am excited by the wide variety of contemporary plays which entertain, challenge and make me feel deeply.

10 years after a life-threatening road traffic collision left me disabled, I retired from working as a National Officer of a trade union. In recent years, I have been inspired to write short fiction after attending creative writing courses. In 2017, I began writing theatre reviews and I am thrilled by the opportunities to combine two of my loves: live theatre and writing.