Review - On Your Feet! (London Coliseum)

After an impressive run on Broadway and a lengthy US tour, director Jerry Mitchell's production of On Your Feet! has arrived at the London Coliseum, featuring a fantastic cast, lively band, and zazzy choreography by Sergio Trujillo.

The cast of On Your Feet!
Photo credit - Johan Persson
Following Cuban-American singer and former  Miami Sound Machine frontwoman Gloria Estefan and her musician turned producer husband Emilio as they come up against barriers in the form of Gloria's overprotective mother, as well as closed-minded record producers, before eventually beating the odds to become the international superstar power couple they are today, On Your Feet! is a hot new arrival which pulses with rhythm from start to finish. Featuring plenty of fantastic tunes including Dr. Beat, Rhythm Is Gonna Get You, and of course Conga, it's bound to have have audiences dancing in their seats. Especially with breakout stars Christie Prades and George Ioannides at the helm. The duo at the heart of the musical may not be as instantly recognisable to UK audiences as they are to those in the US, but that doesn't dampen the musical's vivaciousness, and neither does its admittedly shaky book, which utilises every trope in the musical biography toolkit. 

Christie Prades and George Ioannides in On Your Feet!
Photo credit - Johan Persson
Of course, Estefan's life story is an inspirational one without a doubt, and the musical does cover some surprising territory; exploring the after-effects of the Cuban revolution, and touching on the prejudices faced by immigrants in America. But the bare bones of the story too-closely resemble so many other biographical musicals which have hit the West End in the last couple of years. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and Sunny Afternoon did it first. And so, as strange as it is to say, although Estefan is easy to root for, On Your Feet! is at its best when the story melts away and the musical numbers take front and centre.

Estefan's eclectic songbook overflows with irresistible dance hits and pop ballads which are interspersed with lesser known numbers, and even one new song written specially for the show by Gloria and her daughter Emily Estefan. Conga is the big act 1 closer, and it does and excellent job of getting everyone up out of their seats, meanwhile act 2 culminates at the 1991 American Music Awards with heart-rending soul ballad with Coming Out Of the Dark. And of course, a finale megamix sends everyone home with a smile on their face. EsteFAN or not, sit back and enjoy the show, because the rhythm is going to get you either way!