The rhythm certainly gets you with new musical On Your Feet! - the story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan.
The show, currently enjoying its first UK and Ireland tour after a successful stint on Broadway and in the West End, plays at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until Saturday 2nd November.
Directed by Jerry Mitchell, the man behind Kinky Boots and the current US smash Pretty Woman, On Your Feet was destined to be a hit with audiences whether you are a fan of Ms Estefan or not.
It’s the perfect night out for anyone who grew up in the 80s as it spans the rise to fame of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, from their meeting on the streets on Cuba to forming the Miami Sound Machine and eventually achieving world-wide fame.
Phillipa Stefani takes on the gigantic role of Gloria and proves to be truly mesmerising throughout. Stefani belts out some fantastic vocals as she recreates the unmistakable sound of Gloria and her vibrant outlook on life.
She manages to embody the essence of Estefan with perfection, proving and the casting by Natalie Gallacher is spot on.
I defy anyone not to fall in love with George Ioannides who plays the determined and driven musician Emilio, with a true sweetness and passion. Ioannides oozes undeniable Latino charm, plus he’s very easy on the eye! The onscreen connection between him Stefani is electric and very believable, leaving the audience swooning at their partnership.
Elsewhere the supporting cast is nothing short of fabulous with Madalena Alberto as Gloria’s strong-willed mother and Karen Mann providing lots of laughs as the pushy but well-intentioned Grandma Consuelo.
On Your Feet! is based on the real-life story of Gloria and Emilio and as the musical progresses we witness the highs and lows of their plight to break Latino music into a mainstream audience, which of course brings with it a plethora of performances of the hits we all know and love. The rhythmic Dr. Beat and the beautiful ballad Anything For You prove to be the real audience pleasers of the night.
It’s not just the songs that are on fire in this production, Sergi Trujillo’s choreography sizzles too, as he has the dancers salsa their socks off and turn up the heat with their hips.
The show isn’t afraid to pause the party mood though which is apparent as we move into Act Two and relive Gloria’s horrific crash which left her almost paralysed. It’s in these truly touching scenes the show’s original music takes centre stage and both the new songs and sensitive acting from the cast tugs at your heart strings.
The end of the production leaves you with the smile back on your face though as Gloria makes a miraculous recovery and of course, it’s only fitting that you are ‘on your feet’ dancing in the aisles as she takes to the stage for her comeback.
Whilst some may call this a jukebox musical, I feel that moniker is detrimental as this musical is worth so much more; it’s slick, full of heart, packed with talented performers and keeps you entertained throughout.
On Your Feet! will make you feel like you are at one big party which you never want to leave, plus have you searching for Gloria’s hits on Spotify before you can say ‘1-2-3’!
Runs at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until Saturday 2nd November
On Your Feet!
Venue: Palace Theatre
Date: Until Saturday 2nd November
Cost: Tickets start from £17