Review of On Your Feet at The Palace Theatre, Manchester
We were invited along to review On Your Feet, a musical based on the love story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan at Manchester’s Palace Theatre. Here’s what we thought.
On Your Feet is a brand new musical, which has arrived in Manchester straight from a run in London. If previous reviews were anything to go by, I knew I would be in for a treat; but I have to be honest. I had to google Gloria Estefan before attending to find out which songs she was most famous for. Yes, I knew the name, but I wouldn’t have been able to name a single Gloria Estefan hit. Actually, it turns out I knew a lot of them – she’s responsible for a huge array of eighties dance hits, from The Rhythm is Gonna Get You and Conga to Don’t Want to Lose You Now and 1-2-3.
The musical charts the true life story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, as they make their way from Cuba, on to Miami and eventually to stardom. It opens with Gloria at the height of her career, before taking us back to her childhood, where she was already singing (when she should be doing chores). When Emilio invites Gloria to meet his band and sing a song she has written for them, everything changes and eventually it’s Gloria who becomes the frontwoman of the band.
The staging throughout is kept to a minimal, allowing the music and the dancing to take centre stage, along with a fantastic live band to keep the beats coming. Philippa Stefana is superb as Gloria Estefan, and by the end, I literally felt like I had watched Gloria, and not an actress, live through the ups and downs of stardom. I felt her highs and lows, watching her grow in confidence from a 17 year old hesitant singer to a full blown pop icon. Her voice was energetic and powerful, and she had a strong stage presence, whether she was performing in a crowd, or singing alone. George Ioannides is well cast as Gloria’s husband Emilio Estefan, playing a loving partner, who knows when he needs to be supportive and when he needs to push to help the band achieve success.
Madalena Alberto as Gloria’s mother, more than stepped upto the mark when it was her chance to take centre stage. I particularly enjoyed the duo between her and Emilio at the hospital. Karen Mann plays the Grandmother Consuelo that any woman would love to have down to a tea; encouraging Gloria from the sidelines, and taking time to have a boogie too.
On Your Feet is a show that is full of life, and on a cold, dark night in Manchester, the Cuban beats, bright costumes and exciting choreography were exactly what the doctor ordered. My only complaint would be that the story was a little sparce. After spending the first half of the show meeting Gloria’s family, and seeing the budding relationship between Gloria and Emilio, the second half seemed to jump ahead, with only vague references to the fact they were married and had a child. But in all honesty, this show is about the music….because I can promise you, whether you have already discovered Gloria Estefan or not, the rhythm is gonna get you!
If you’re after a little bit of escapism and dance-along-hits to brighten up the October nights, then this show is for you. I guarantee you will be “on your feet” by the end of the night, if not before. On Your Feet is on at The Palace Theatre, Manchester from now until 2nd November 2019. For more information and to book your tickets, see here.