The story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan is not one so well known in the UK and USA and Latin America, but it’s one worth telling. The husband and wife performing powerhouse went from rags to riches, and in the process sold millions, opening up new audiences to their Cuban rhythms.
Jerry Mitchell’s original production On Your Feet!, accompanied by the book by Birdman-screenwriter Alexander Dinelaris, ran for two years on Broadway from 2015, with over 750 performances and a Tony nod for its choreography. The show is now at The Marlowe in Canterbury, as part of its UK tour, having wowed audiences in London.
Gloria and Emilio want to be successful, but face prejudiced promoters and DJs who are stuck in their ways and unwilling to take a punt on their hybrid music. We follow their trajectory from smalltown Cuba to bigtime hits. It’s vibrant and full of vitality, with excellent dancing infused by energy, choregraphed by Olivier recipient Sergio Trujillo.
Philippa Stefani’s strong voice and brilliant moves made her an excellent audience, whilst George Ioannides was a bright and bold Emilio. Supported by a strong ensemble, they made the show full of vivacity and life.
I went to the show unconvinced that I knew many songs, but soon found myself tapping and even singing along to hits such as Dr Beat, 1-2-3, and Don’t Wanna Lose You. By the end of the night, audiences were on their feet, as the title of the show promised.