This week I am riding on the unbridled enthusiasm of my 83-year-old companion, who has the vitality and spirit of a ten-year-old and accompanied me to see On Your Feet! (London Coliseum), the story of Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine.
Themou bkion not another jukebox musical. No it’s far better than that and it had us all on our feet, including said escort who got so carried away by the rhythm – Rhythm Is Gonna Get You being one of their many hits – she was dancing, and falling, in the aisle. Her hip locked just as she tried to execute an exaggerated hip gyration. She was bitterly disappointed not to be chosen as partner for one of the salsa ensemble just before the interval. Those that did had a ball and this charming, entertaining show, which was a hit on Broadway, is the perfect party night out as long as you have sturdy ear drums, the sound is sometimes ear-shattering.
You’ll also need tissues for when husband Emilio sings Don’t Wanna Lose You, which comes at a time she is undergoing major surgery following a bus crash that almost killed her. She pulled through and made an emotionally charged return at an awards ceremony. The stuff of Hollywood movies. Yet despite all the hits, the song that really tugs on the heartstrings and has an understated lyrical beauty is If I Never Got to Tell You performed by Estefan’s mother and Emilio singing about the pain of trying to live without the diva.
The show has verve and vivacity. Sergio Trujillo’s scintillating choreography will sweep you away into that lascivious Latin sound, so suggestive of all things sensual. Christie Prades is terrific as Gloria, matched by George Ioannides as Emilio and Madalena Alberto is a volcanic presence as her mother. Jerry Mitchell’s direction gives it the feel of a pulsating gig with the onstage band playing as though their lives were at stake. Yes, it’s a cliché but the rhythm really will get you…even when you’re 83.
Meanwhile Suzie Doubleyou has such a laugh…
The energy and humour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe) will suck you in. The performances are strong and the characters loveable. Jocelyn Jee Esien steals the show as one of the most original Bottoms’ ever. There is definitely a pantomime feel with a surreal Latin American twist which may not be everyone’s style but it never pretends to be anything other than a fun evening and I rolled with every comic punch and frivolous twist. Jean Chan’s set design is colourful and the black and white of the lovers in the woodland scenes is gorgeous. This is a dream of a show with an eclectic mix of sound and visuals and a diverse cast that deserves plaudits and large audiences!
And Giovanni Bigelow is converted…
I have never been to The Proms. After attending the late-night Prom 16 I’ll be back. It featured the “Queen of African Music” Angélique Kidjo in a tribute to Celia Cruz, my queen of salsa, and she totally smashed it! With a brill eight-piece band the venue was soon rocking. Man if I can be like that when I am 60 bring it on because she has the energy and moves that me and my sister (companion) would die for and her outfit was a wicked mix of West African colour and style. The whole thing turned into a party and percussionist Magatte Sow milked every moment in an incredible finale of Tumba while Thierry Vaton banged out some serious sounds on the keyboard demonstrating an incredible ability to switch styles. The ‘Queen’ and her court of musicians gave us an amazing night…and The Proms has a new fan!
Finally, Rose Goodenough envies you lucky Londoners…
The Girl on the Train (Yvonne Arnaud) is so much better than the film and it is now enjoying a London run…you should go see it. Samantha Womack plays Rachel, an addictive, obsessive individual who makes her morning commute a journey of crazed preoccupation. But all is not what it seems and unsurprisingly the psychiatrist she turns too is equally unhinged. Its riveting stuff and Womack is a picture of drunken and out of control, for whom reality and fantasy have become one. There are a plethora of emotional and psychological layers to it all, the supporting cast are strong and the set design by James Cotterill is a revolving kaleidoscope of the various homes of the main protagonists, most apt for the themes running throughout. Gripping theatre.
On Your Feet! – 020 7845 9300
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – 020 7401 9919
BBC Proms – www.bbc.co.uk/proms
The Girl on the Train – 0844 871 7623