★★★ | On Your Feet, Sheffield
Tracing her rise from Cuban immigrant to global superstar, On Your Feet tells the story of Gloria Estafan and the Miami Sound Machine.
From humble beginnings, the group went on to sell over 100 million records, albeit not without struggling to bring their fusion of Latin beats and Pop to the charts. But the American dream turns sour when at the height of her fame, tragedy hits the family.
You might think that Gloria Estafan’s life was not really eventful enough to carry the narrative of a two-hour show, and, well, you may be right.
There is very little in this musical biopic that hasn’t been seen before. The show feels a little self-indulgent at times, only ever skimming the surface of Estafan’s life and there are no huge revelations. The story ambles along without really getting very far in act one; and despite the narrative thickening out a little during act two, it remains a rather superficial look at her life.
Narrative aside and despite a rather lacklustre set, this is a big production with a quality feel, an excellent lighting design taking us from the heat of the Cuban sun to packed out stadiums, some stunningly beautiful costumes, a stage full of actors and a superb live band on stage. Francesca Lara Gordon plays Gloria Estafan as a sassy, headstrong and determined woman, and had a voice enabling her to belt out the pop tunes and softly sing the slower numbers; and there was a tangible chemistry between her and George Ioannides as Emilio Estafan.
With a good mix of ballads, upbeat pop and Latin American music, the show bursts into life during the musical numbers which are filled with passion and energy. With infectious Latin rhythms and dance routines that positively sizzle, outstanding choreography and an ensemble cast as hot as the Miami sun, the show really does impress during these moments and proves to be utterly irresistible.
On Your Feet is a musical biopic with the emphasis firmly on the music rather than the biopic, and provides a couple of hours of foot-tapping, feel-good fun.