On Your Feet **** (4 stars)
The story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan has come to the stage with an electric performance in On Your Feet all this week. What a journey it was too from Cuba to Miami to the world as the struggles with family and record companies got in the way before worldwide crossover to mainstream and the acclaim they richly deserved.
Directed by two-time Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell the show firstly is the love story of Emilio and Gloria and the family with her controlling mother played by Laura Friedrich Tejero and sister Rebecca (Francesca Lara Gordon). Gloria then convinces Emilio that her talents need to be in his boy band and so forming the Miami Sound Machine. Philippa Stefani as Gloria was wonderful throughout with some challenging vocals and complex choreography by Olivier Award winning Sergio Trujillo. When she was centre stage all eyes were on her and ably supported by her Emilio played by George Ionnides in Act One and Sharif Afifi in Act Two.
So, would Gloria leave her home to tour with the band and would the audiences accept a Latino Cuban beat to the world of disco and dance? The music played live with an on stage eight-piece band were bang on form led by MD Danny Belton with extreme
trumpet & flugelhorn from Matt Yardley bringing an authentic beat to these well-known hits. Dr. Beat was amazing, Rhythm Is Gonna Get You so memorable and Conga was sensational getting the audience on their feet and partying with the cast in the stalls.
Lighting was of the highest standard making the old theatre into a club and even after her tragic traffic accident becoming a sobering moment she bounced back to the American Music Awards on the invite of Dick Clark before a rousing finale that included Everlasting Love and Turn The Beat Around among a medley of hits.
Gloria & Emilio sold over 100 million records in her time and gathered 26 Grammy Awards and what an insight by them to bring their story to the Edinburgh stage for us all to relive the story and the magical music.
Edinburgh Festival Theatre till October 12th