BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET! THE EMILIO & GLORIA ESTEFAN BROADWAY MUSICAL at the Hippodrome Theatre - It Literally Has Audiences OFF Their Feet!

BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET! THE EMILIO & GLORIA ESTEFAN BROADWAY MUSICAL at the Hippodrome Theatre - It Literally Has Audiences OFF Their Feet!

What a thrill it was after my wife and I saw ON YOUR FEET on Broadway two years ago to go backstage and meet both Emilio and Gloria Estefan. They were incredibly gracious.

I'm here to report the tour version has not missed a beat and Director Jerry Mitchell is responsible.

Thankfully the Estefans are producers and auditioned the leads and they succeeded choosing Christie Prades (a Cuban-American as Gloria) and Mauricio Martinez (a Mexican as Emilio). They are both superlative. Reprising her role on Broadway as Gloria' mother is Doreen Montalvo (Gloria Fajardo). Every time Debra Cardona (Consuelo, Gloria's grandmother) is on stage she steals the show.

ON YOUR FEET is a bio-musical about the life and times of Gloria Estefan who migrated to the Unites States from Cuba and later fell in love with musician Emilio Estefan who auditioned Gloria at a young age and knew quickly about her talent.

The musical follows the lives of the two Estefans and the difficulty Emilio faces and getting his music played on the radio. Another musical also faced this issue at Baltimore Center Stage, the world premiere of SOUL: THE STAX MUSICAL which addressed the difficulty the Memphis record company had getting its soul/blues performers on the radio.

Book writer Alexander Dinelaris (Academy Award winner for "Birdland") has done a masterful job bring this stirring tale to the stage. His best line is spoke by Emilio who is getting the door shut in his face by record companies who can't see how his music would translate to an American audience. Emilio is told by a record producer that his music is "too Cuban for Americans and too American for Cubans". He tells the record producer, "This is what an American looks like!" The entire audience cheered. I was reminded me of a similar line in HAMILTON: "Immigrants, we get the job done."

The book also includes the tragic bus crash which put Gloria out of commission and the show ends with her return to perform at Dick Clark's "The American Music Awards". The audience went nuts.

So, the Estefans took the distribution work in their own hands. They visited DJ's. They got work where ever they could and that included performing at Bar Mitzvahs, Italian weddings, and a Shriners convention. It took a while, but they succeeded with their many hit songs. How many? They sold more than 100 million records and won 26 Grammy Awards.

A great deal of its success lies with Sergio Trujillo, Choreographer, who is responsible for the intricate and spectacular salsa and tangos. I must mention a dance move never seen before. Two dancers go into a crouch, squat, and kick extending a leg, they bend their other leg under them at the knee, slowly rotating and they then toss their hats onto their outstretched toes. Simple astounding. Trujillo locally was responsible for the hit musical CARMEN; AN AFRO-CUBAN MUSICAL at Olney Theatre Company and FREAKY FRIDAY at the Signature Theatre. Both shows may have Broadway in their future.

The entire ensemble gave it their all and one could see the sweat coming of their bodies.

Don't hesitate to join the conga line as the cast dances into the orchestra at the end of Act I.

This musical ran on Broadway for 750 performances yet did not get a Tony nomination in 2016 even though for the first time five shows were nominated. They were BRIGHT STAR, WAITRESS, SCHOOL OF ROCK, SHUFFLE ALONG, and HAMILTON. Once again, I think the Tony committee made a mistake. (Let's see what happens at this year's Tony Awards Sunday night, June 10 at 8 p.m. on CBS. I'm rooting for THE BAND'S VISIT.)

But Gloria did receive a Kennedy Center Honor in December 2017.

Kudos to the onstage band, many of whom were members of the original group The Miami Sound Machine.

David Rockwell did the clever Set Design, Emilio Sosa did the period technicolor costumes, and there was terrific lighting by Kenneth Posner. At times I had trouble with the sound by SCK Sound Design. This could have been I was sitting on the extreme side of the theater.

The musical numbers are listed in alphabetical order (also done in MAMMA MIA!). But they are all in there: "1-2-3", "Conga"," Rhythm Is Gonna Get You", "Turn the Beat Around", and of course, "Get on Your Feet".

So, go for the music, the performances, the poignant story and have a blast.

ON YOUR FEET runs until Sunday night at the Hippodrome, June 10, 2018. For tickets, call 800-982-2787 or visit ticketmaster.com.

cgshbuow@broadwayworld.com

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From This Author Charles Shubow

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