REVIEW: On Your Feet (London Coliseum)

Mummy has spent the last few nights sleeping in a shepherd’s hut in West Wales. This picturesque land of poets sounds like the perfect place for writing. And it probably would be if Mummy were accustomed to writing with quill by candlelight. Unfortunately, it turns out that a lack of electricity, let alone wifi, is not conducive to writing reviews. And thus Mummy’s blog backlog has had to wait until she returned to civilisation. Mummy is not convinced that this necessarily how she would describe a stopover at her in-laws but is aware that Mrs Mummy will be reading this. So Mummy is begrudgingly declaring Chez Nan and Gramps to be civilized, even if their wifi is distinctly dodgy.   Mummy thinks longingly of London and its plentiful internet signal, and then remembers that this was supposed to be a review rather than a rant.  So she takes herself back to last weekend’s family trip to On Your Feet! at the London Coliseum.

Mummy and Mrs Mummy have seen many a musical. Those of the jukebox variety tend not to result in a spontaneous standing ovation (despite often being engineered to have the audience dancing at the end). On the other hand, Mummy remembers repeatedly watching an advert for On Your Feet! in a queue for rush seats in New York a few years back. The munchkins enjoyed Strictly Ballroom last year and are massive fans of Strictly Come Dancing. Crotchet is also partial to a conga and considers ‘The Shimmy’ to be the greatest dance move known to mankind. So Mummy couldn’t help herself when she came across an offer for On Your Feet! tickets and discovered that the front row was  available. But did it live up to its name?

On Your Feet! tells the true story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, set to the soundtrack of their successful music careers. It’s full of crowd-pleasing favourites like ‘Rhythm is Gonna Get You’, ‘1-2-3’, ‘Dr Beat‘ and ‘Conga‘, all performed by a talented and energetic cast. Mummy was pleasantly surprised to discover that said cast included Madalena Alberto, with whom she had fallen in love during Aspects of Love at the Southwark Playhouse earlier this year. By the end of On Your Feet! Mummy was also rather enamoured by charismatic Cuban Christie Prades and had made a mental note to remember the name Emily Perra. This trio of triple threats play Gloria Fajardo (Gloria Estefan’s Mum) and Gloria Estefan herself (in adult and child form respectively). And each of them is capable of holding the audience captive, whether singing on stage alone or shimmying in the middle of a salsatastic ensemble.

Despite being seasoned theatregoers, the munchkins were both somehow still terrified when the house lights went down and the room exploded with bright lights and loud music. But as soon as the curtain lifted to reveal the live band and a stage full of drummers and salsa dancers, the rhythm got them and they were transfixed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they preferred the upbeat numbers to the quieter moments. The book provides an interesting insight into the impact of the Estefans on the music industry but is not always enthralling for younger audiences. Focusing predominantly on the music rather than their relationship, it is at its best in the scenes which emulate live performances.  There is a real gig feel to these performances, particularly in the second act, with the enthusiastic audience feeding off the energy of Prades. So were we on our feet by the end? Suffice to say, it’s impossible to stay in your seat for the Megamix.

RATING: Raindrops, Whiskers, Kettles and a Solitary Mitten (aka 3.5 out of 5 of my favourite things)

On your Feet plays at the London Coliseum until 31 August 2019.