Mom Theatre Blogger: On Your Feet: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman

on your feetI’ve long been a fan of Gloria Estefan, for her music, strength and driving spirit.

All of that is well-depicted in the high-energy, funny, heartfelt, and feel good Broadway musical ON YOUR FEET! at the Marquis Theatre.

The musical is directed by two-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Hairspray) and choreographed by Olivier Award winner Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys, Memphis) with an original book by Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman, The Bodyguard Musical).

Over the years, Gloria won seven GRAMMY® awards and scored international superstardom, along with her husband her husband, 19-time GRAMMY® winning producer-musician-entrepreneur Emilio Estefan.  They have sold over 100 million records and played packed stadiums throughout the world, acquiring legions of fans.  For the devotees, and others who enjoy a lively night at theatre, this show hits its mark.

We meet a young Gloria and learn of her devotion to her family, with a particularly close relationship to her sister and grandmother whose support and wisdom she holds dear.  We see her as a shy teenager who ultimately finds her stage presence, musical path and the love of her life, as they connect as young artists and create a life that no doubt has surpassed anything they might have dreamed.  Gloria and her mother, herself a frustrated performer who gave it up back in Cuba,  experience tension, as Gloria endeavors to break out of the household where she has been responsible for helping care for her MS-sticken father.  There are no huge surprises here, especially given that the bus accident that nearly ended her life and career, and her subsequent recovery, were well-documented by the press. But, when the conga lines makes it way up the aisles, with audience members being plucked to join in, the rhythm sure is gonna get you, as she sings in one of her many crowd-pleasing songs.

The musical is set to Gloria’s chart-topping hits including “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” “Conga,” “1-2-3,” “Get On Your Feet,” “”Mi Tierra,” Don’t Want To Lose You Now,” and “Reach,” in addition to an original song written by Gloria and her daughter Emily Estefan.  The night I went, a woman behind me in the audience was singing along with some of the songs.  It’s that kind-of a show.

A lifelong fan of Gloria Estefan – who even attended the same Miami high school as the pop star – Cuban-American beauty, singer and actress Ana Villafañe, discovered during an opening casting call tor the show, nails the role of Gloria.  In her Broadway debut, she turns in an impressive star performance, and has chemistry with the likeable Josh Segarra, who is an gutsy, appealing, earnest Emilio. Alma Cuervo is a standout as Gloria’s beloved grandmother Consuelo, adding a does of levity and spunk when she appears.  Andrea Burns, as Gloria’s mother, captures the depth of emotion of a mother who feels rejected and has had to come to terms with dreams burst.

The talented cast also features Alexandria Suarez as Little Gloria, Eduardo Hernandez as Nayib/Young Emilio, Fabi Aguirre, Karmine Alers, Yassmin Alers, David Baida, Natalie Caruncho, Henry Gainza, Linedy Genao, Carlos E. Gonzalez, Nina Lafarga, Genny Lis Padilla, Omar Lopez-Cepero, Hector Maisonet, Marielys Molina, Felix Monge, Doreen Montalvo, Liz Ramos, Eliseo Roman, Luis Salgado, Marcos Santana, Martín Solá, Jennifer Sanchez, Brett Sturgis, Kevin Tellez, Eric Ulloa, Tanairi Vasquez and Lee Zarrett.

Completing the creative team are three-time Tony-nominated Scenic Designer David Rockwell (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde), Tony-nominated Costume Designer Emilio Sosa (Porgy & Bess), Tony Award-winning Lighting Designer Kenneth Posner (Wicked, Hairspray), Tony Award-winning Sound Designer Steve Kennedy (Lady Day, Guys and Dolls), Projections by Darrel Maloney, and Hair & Wig Designer Chuck LaPointe (Beautiful, Newsies). With Music Direction by Lon Hoyt (Hairspray), Orchestrations by Gloria Estefan and Emilio Estefan, Dance Arrangements and Dance Orchestrations by Oscar Hernandez (The Capeman), the ON YOUR FEET! Orchestra even includes members of Miami Sound Machine.

The Estefans embody a couple to be admired on many levels… their enduring love, devotion to family, and determination to not be limited by their  backgrounds and others beliefs.  These are all strong audience-takeaways, and if you weren’t already smitten by Gloria when you walked into the theatre, you will likely admire her all the more now.


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