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On Your Feet star on the magic and music of the Estefans

PUBLISHED: 11:17 18 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:17 18 November 2019

On Your Feet, Philippa Stefani as Gloria Estefan and company Credit: Johan Persson

On Your Feet, Philippa Stefani as Gloria Estefan and company Credit: Johan Persson

Archant

The rhythm is definitely going to get you this winter at Norwich Theatre Royal as a taste of Cuban sunshine and Latin rhythm invades Norfolk.

Madalena Alberto stars as Gloria Fajardo in On Your Feet at Norwich Theatre Royal Credit: Chris MannMadalena Alberto stars as Gloria Fajardo in On Your Feet at Norwich Theatre Royal Credit: Chris Mann

On Your Feet tells the story of Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio through the music that made her a star.

And Madalena Alberto, one of the stars of the show, tells John Bultitude it is a show packed with passion, heart and humour.

If you love the music of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, you will love On Your Feet - a musical packed with some of the couple's biggest hits including Rhythm Is Gonna Get You, Conga, Dr Beat and 1-2-3 is certain to banish the winter blues.

But it is about a lot more than that as the couple's compositions are woven into their life story which starts in their native Cuba, moves to the streets of Miami and ends in international superstardom.

And it is this strong story packed with themes about love, passion and performance which attracted top West End star Madalena Alberto to the show. She admits: "When I first heard about it, I assumed it was just another jukebox musical so when I read the show, I was so surprised as it is about the people who wrote the songs.

"It is about family, about belonging and overcoming obstacles in life, and it is a really heart-warming story."

For Madalena, one of the other big attractions was the chance to take on one of the major character roles of Gloria Fajardo, Gloria Estefan's mother.

She laughed: "I know what people will say. I am not old enough to play the mother. I went up for the role of Gloria and the producers came back to me and said 'you are wonderful but we want you to play her mother'.

"My ego resisted it at first until I read the script properly. It is the most incredible part and I am having the best time with it.

On Your Feet, Philippa Stefani as Gloria Estefan and company Credit: Johan PerssonOn Your Feet, Philippa Stefani as Gloria Estefan and company Credit: Johan Persson

"It is very meaty and a very big acting role. It is very satisfying. It is also so far away from who I am because I am quite shy and I do not like confrontation, so it has been a beautiful character to work on."

As Madalena explains, she is a feisty character who is also the matriarch in the family and wants to resist Gloria entering the music business while also having intense love for her daughter and wanting the best for her despite an early life steeped in hardship.

One of the big responsibilities for her was portraying a real person.

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She recalled: "We got to meet Gloria who was with us for three weeks of the rehearsal process and she auditioned us and we were very close to the story.

"Her mother passed away a couple of years ago so it was a huge responsibility to honour her presence and her story."

Madalena is also no stranger to those major character roles with previous credits including Giulietta in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Aspects Of Love, Carrie in Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds, the title role in Piaf, Fantine in Les Misérables, and the title role in Evita in the West End and on tour which also marked her last visit to Norwich.

Eva Peron was a very different character to Gloria but one that Madalena loved getting inside the skin of.

She explained: "I obviously never met and also the accounts of her are so biased and so one-sided. People loved her and people hated her. I got to learn so much and explore so much."

On Your Feet, Philippa Stefani as Gloria Estefan and company Credit: Johan PerssonOn Your Feet, Philippa Stefani as Gloria Estefan and company Credit: Johan Persson

Whatever the character though, Madalena has always consistently been passionate about making sure she gives 100 per cent to whatever role she plays. "When you play big parts like Evita it is hard to top them but I have also learned that you are constantly on stage.

"You don't rest and your mind is not off the show. It is great to have these roles but it is also a huge commitment and responsibility."

But with that responsibility comes great fun and excitement particularly on a show like On Your Feet.

"The show is hard work but I actually think this is one of the most enjoyable jobs I have done as a whole. The company is a very different company from one I have worked with before.

"In London, there were 13 different nationalities in the cast and there are about ten on the tour.

"There is also a beautiful energy and On Your Feet also shows that everyone has a story to tell wherever they come from. It is also so wonderful to see the audience standing at the end. You just don't get that every day."

So get ready for an exciting celebration of a musical icon and the return to Norwich of one of UK theatreland's brightest stars.

On Your Feet runs from Tuesday, November 19 to Saturday, November 23 at Norwich Theatre Royal at 7.30pm, with 2.30pm matinees on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Tickets cost from £10 to £47 and to book, log onto theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 630000.

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