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On Your Feet at Birmingham Hippodrome - Review

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Rhythm is gonna get you in this Gloria Estefan musical
With an era of pop hits to choose from, the Gloria Estefan inspired musical On Your Feet was always going to be a lively affair but I didn't realise just how sentimental it would be too.

on your feet, gloria estefan musical, birmingham hippodrome
Cuban and Miami beats in On Your Feet


More than just their rise to fame, the storyline also looks more closely at their families' beginnings in Cuba before moving to Miami and the hardship they faced as ethnic minorities against record companies.

Following the musical's success in America and London, its first UK tour has reached Birmingham Hippodrome where it stays until September 7. The tour will return to the Midlands next year when it stops off at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from 17 to 21 March 2020.

Based on the true story of Gloria and Emilio's romance and the successful rise of Miami Sound Machine to dominate the charts in the 1980s, this musical is a nostalgic treat for those who loved their hits like Don't Want To Lose You Now and 1-2-3.

on your feet, gloria estefan musical, birmingham hippodrome
Lively dance and song routines are in the show


It's a good script with plenty of depth, but then it is written by Alexander Dinelaris, who later won the Academy Award for his work on film Birdman.

There another award winner involved too - the two-time Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell. He was responsible for Kinky Boots and Legally Blonde on stage and directs this show, keeping the action moving swiftly.

At the centre of it all is a live band, so important to what the Estefans advocated in their music. It makes those Cuban and Latino beats even more tempting to dance to when hearing classic hits like Rhythm Is Gonna Get You, Conga or Get On Your Feet.

It's nice to see that these songs accompany suitable parts of their lives and aren't just wedged into a flimsy plot. Dinelaris took two years talking to the Estefans to understand their lives, relationship and families to create a heartfelt story that resonates.

on your feet, gloria estefan musical, birmingham hippodrome
Inspired by the real life love story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan


The dance routines are slick and the most spectacular are Tradición and Conga. That's down to Olivier Award-winning choreographer Sergio Trujillo, who also worked on the acclaimed Jersey Boys.

The cast has been well-picked, especially Philippa Stefani and George Ioannides as a sizzlingly sexy Gloria and Emilio. Karen Mann as Gloria's dippy grandmother does some lovely character acting and steals the show and hearts of the audience though.

It's terribly romantic for most part but becomes more emotional and sentimental when it moves on to the bus crash that left Gloria with a broken back in hospital in 1990.

on your feet, gloria estefan musical, birmingham hippodrome
The musical is guaranteed to get you on your feet


The song at that point, If I Never Got To Tell You, is the only new song in the show and was written by Gloria with her daughter Emily. It's a heartwrenching piece that shows Gloria is a talent missed in recent years.

Interestingly, Gloria Estefan had said that she receives letters from many men who had seen the show saying that it made them cry with emotion and you can see why as she battles back to health with encouragement from her husband and letters from fans.

With a suitable uplifting finale at the American Music Awards and a medley mix of the liveliest hits, it's hard not to get on your feet, whether to dance or applaud this fun heartfelt and entertaining musical

RATING:


You can read an interview with Gloria Estefan about the show and her life on Weekend Notes here.
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Why? See musical with Gloria Estefan songs
When: In Birmingham until 7 September. On tour into 2020
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst Street, Birmingham, B5 4TB
Cost: From £25
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