On Your Feet!

ON YOUR FEET! Josh Segarra and Ana Villafañe as Emilio and Gloria Estefan Photo by Matthew Murphy

ON YOUR FEET! Josh Segarra and Ana Villafañe as Emilio and Gloria Estefan Photo by Matthew Murphy

by Tulis McCall

You won’t have a lot of choice in the matter.  You will do as the title tells you and be On Your Feet because this dazzling and delightful musical will left you up like nobody’s business.  Biographies in the theatre are rarely done well because the authors are more in love with the facts than the story.  Here the authors (Alexander Dinelaris and Gloria and Emilio Estefan) have let the music do the talking and the story follow in its footsteps.  The result is a perfect 10.  Fun, tears, greats songs and dancing.

Those of you who remember the 1980s may remember Ms. Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine (whose leader Emilio Estefan she married in 1978).  And if you are not familiar, once this rocking’s orchestra and magnificent cast get done with you – you will remember.  Just like you WILL be on your feet.

Through a series of flashbacks we see Gloria as a girl (Alexandria Suarez) in Cuba, singing and dancing because that was in her spirit and heart.  Her family fled to Miami as Batista was overthrown.  As part of that departure, gloria’s mother – also Gloria (Andrea Burns) – lost her dream of performing.  As Gloria (Ana Villafañe) turned into an adult with her own songs to sing, the her mother was the last one on the support train.  Rather is was her grandmother Consuelo (Alma Cuervo) who pushed and encouraged.  Eventually Gloria caught the eye of a certain Emilio Estefan (Josh Segarra) – leader of Miami Sound Machine – who became Gloria’s first and only love.

As their music evolved so did their relationship, and the two became and remain a formidable team.  Originally relegated to Spanish speaking venues and radio stations, the two of them planned and negotiated to rebrand – as we say today.  Their journey was not paved with gold and they played every gig they could scrounge – weddings, barmitzvahs and more until the powers that be finally came to the music and felt what was happening.  Eventually the walks came ambling down and Estefan became a chart topping success.

The success brought problems of its own – exhaustion and living out of a suitcase.  And there was that horrific accident that landed her in the hospital with the possibility that she would never walk again.  But she survived and thrived with a breathtaking comeback 18 moths later on the American Music Awards.

The warp and woof of story and music blend to make an evening that does justice to Estefan’s tale.  This show dose not pretend to be anything other than what it is: a story of the delicate web of family (Eliseo Roman as as Gloria’s father Jose and Ms. Burns are featured brilliantly and prominently as the lynchpins to this story.) friends, fame and fortune.  There are no guarantees in life.  The road is paved with disappointments that are experienced on your own, because it only seats one between your ears, but that can be witnessed and shared with family into which you are born and family you create.  This is a story of immigrants who make good.  This is a story of passion and determination.  This is a story of an American dream by way of Cuba.

For some reason the list of songs is placed deep into the program after the Who’s Who.  I give them to you here because very likely this will be one of the first things you research when you leave the theatre, so that you can download the entire collection.  On Your Feet  will make you understand on a visceral level that Estefan is a national treasure.  Beginning with Ana Villafañe, whose voice is as magnificent as her spirit and who is rarely off stage, this cast is exquisite.  Jerry Mitchell’s direction is light and to the point.  Sergio Trujillo’s choreography makes you feel like you could get up there and conga with the best of them.

In other words this is a fantasy tale of a reality experience that pulls you in, get’s your hips swinging and hauls you to your feet.  Brava!

MUSICAL NUMBERS
“Rhythm Is Gonna Get You”
“Cuando Salí de Cuba”
“Tradicíon”
“Anything for You”
“1-2-3”
“I See Your Smile”
“Mi Tierra”
“Con los Años Que Me Quedan”
“Here We Are”
“Dr. Beat”
“When Someone Comes Into Your Life”
“Conga”
“Get on Your Feet”
“Live for Loving You”
“Party Time”
“Oye Mi Canto”
“Cuba Libre”
“Famous”
“If I Never Got to Tell You”
“Wrapped”
“Don’t Wanna Lose You”
“Reach”
“Coming Out of the Dark”
“Mega Mix” (“Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” /  “Oye” /  “Turn the Beat Around” / “Get On Your Feet!” / “Everlasting Love”)

 ON YOUR FEET – Book by Alexander Dinelaris, Music and Lyrics by and Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Directed by Jerry Mitchell.

WITH Ana Villafañe, Josh Segarra, Alma Cuervo Alexandria Suarez Eduardo Hernandea, Andrea Burns, Fabi Aguirre Karmine Alers David Baida Natalie Caruncho, Henry Gainza Linedy Genao Carlos E. Gonzalez Nina Lafarga Omar Lopez-Cepero Hector Maisonet Marielys Molina Doreen Montalvo Genny Lis Padilla, Liz Ramos Eliseo Roman Luis Salgado Jennifer Sanchez Marcos Santana Martin Sola Brett Sturgis Kevin Tellez Eric Ulloa Tanairi Sade Vazquez Lee ZarrettLighting Design Kenneth Posner, Scenic Design David Rockwell, Costume Design ESosa, Sound Design SCK Sound Design, Choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, Music Coordinator Patrick Vaccariello

marquis Theatre; Tickets.

Tulis McCall

Author: Tulis McCall

For my money, the theatre is up there in the ten top reasons to be human. I leave my home and go sit in a dark room with complete strangers and watch actors do their stuff because I want to be inspired. I’m asking to be involved. I’m volunteering to be led down any old path they choose as long as they don’t let go of my hand. And if I see a show, and it is NOT so very good – I will try to divert you, because I don’t want you to come to the temple when the preaching isn’t up to snuff. I will bar the door, I will swing from rafters, I will yell FIRE just to set your feet on a path that does not lead to disappointment. Do something different with your evening I will say. Save your money for dinner with a friend you haven’t seen in months because you are too frigging busy. Go take a walk with your dog or your child or your significant other. Go to bed early, I will say. Don’t come to the theatre when it is less than it can be. I’m an usher snob, and that’s all there is to it.

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