Reviewed by Emily March
21st October 2019
On Your Feet is currently sweeping the nation on its UK tour and this week, it’s Cardiffs turn. After seeing the show in London over the summer, I knew I would have to make a return visit to see this fierce, high-energy show. Although I went in knowing that is it is not a theatrical masterpiece by any means, I was excited once again for the incredible music, superb dancing and inspirational storyline. This touring production did not disappoint and once again, the rhythm got me good.
Philippa Stefani shines as Gloria. Her effortless vocals soar, her acting is captivating and natural and quite honestly, a true star is born in this role. What stood out to me most was her rendition of the emotional ‘Coming Out Of The Dark’, showing the soul and versatility in her voice. Stefani’s performance was one to remember.
Madalena Alberto was another stand out with her portrayal of Gloria’s bitter mother. Her shining moment ‘Mi Tierra’ was filled with passion and proved that Alberto is a seasoned professional with a stunning voice and moves to match.
At Monday’s performance, Consuelo was understudied by Laura Friedrich Tejero who acted well beyond her years and made the audience fall in love with her in seconds. She brought both heart and humour to the role. George Ioannides is a fantastic Emilio, with both his sexy confidence and natural talent. He was supported by a fantastic ensemble of passionate performers who danced the authentic choreography with so much strength and energy.
The production was exactly how I remember it from London, however one key component that was lack of child actors that the previous production was lucky to have. Understandably touring with children has it’s restrictions/difficulties but they bring another dimension to the piece, and add the cute factor that the audiences love.
Some classic musical theatre moments where the characters burst into song felt a little awkward at times, even provoking some giggles from the audience because of how cheesy they were. Although these songs were sung beautifully, they broke the realism and weren’t a necessary part of the story telling. Despite that, the majority of the evening felt like a real Gloria Estefan concert.
My favourite moment was, of course, Conga, which got the audience up dancing in the aisles at the end of Act 1. I didn’t stop smiling. I also loved how the talented band were showcased on the stage. The loud music and bright lights set the scene and brought us right into the story. We were treated to a spellbinding mega-mix at the end of the show that got everyone quite literally on their feet and all round it was a super fun night.
The story of Gloria and Emilio is truly inspiring and their fierce approach to the music industry is incredible, and many elements of their story are totally relevant today. I would highly recommend seeing this show if you get the chance.
On Your Feet plays at the Wales Millennium Centre until Saturday 26th October.