BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET at DCPA
Icon. A word of only four letters, and yet it holds so much weight for many people. It is not hard to think of musical icons: Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, even Britney Spears. Among the elite is also Gloria Estefan, whose own personal life is on full display in the latest show to come to DCPA, On Your Feet!
Inspired by the life of the artist who brought the world such classics as Congo, Turn the Beat Around, and the title song, Get on Your Feet, this musical brings music and dance to life. An intimate look into the early life of the musical legend, we meet Gloria first as a little girl and soon after as a young woman who seems to have the same issues as many other artists: To take a chance at life or take the job with a higher chance of success. With the support of her grandmother, Gloria meets Emilio Estefan who inspires her to dream bigger than she even knew she could.
Overall, this show provides a party atmosphere to its audience through classic ballroom dance numbers, top notch vocals, and a live, on-stage band that could make the stiffest foot begin to tap. Many of the issues I had lay with the book, written by Alexander Dinelaris. The beginning of the show is not as tight as the latter portion and because of that, it took some time to settle in to the story. Gloria's sister is also portrayed in the show, played by Claudia Yanez, however the role itself is something of an issue. There are moments in which I would have loved to have seen more of the relationship between Gloria and her sister, but although Rebecca was on stage in most scenes, she had hardly any lines. There was an opportunity to make Rebecca more than just an ancillary character that was not fulfilled. I also found some of the blocking choices to be rather elementary for a national touring production.
From the first moment, you could tell that every member of the cast was happy to be on that stage. The energy they gave to their performances both as an individual and a unit was very refreshing. Namely, ensemble member Jeremy Adam Rey was clearly living his best life any time he stepped foot on that stage. As Gloria's mother, Gloria Fajardo, Nancy Ticotin is one of my favorite characters. She gives the perfect portrayal of a mother who has sacrificed her own dreams because she had no other choice. A fantastic singer, Ticotin also showed off her incredible dancing flair. As the grandmother, Consuelo, Debra Cardona is the perfect abuela. With plenty of comedic timing, Cardona had plenty to work with in the role and filled the shoes with pride.
Playing Emilio Estefan, Ektor Rivera is a strong male lead. A strong actor with an able voice, Rivera's charm echoed throughout the theater. As the titular Gloria, Christie Prades was everything she needed to be in the role. It truly felt like she lead the charge towards a great performance. Without her, it would have been a different show, truly.
The dancing and music were the best part of the show. I grew up listening to Estefan's music and I can remember vividly being a youngster and blasting Turn the Beat Around over and over again to my heart's content.
On Your Feet runs at DCPA August 8 - 19, 2018. For tickets, visit https://www.denvercenter.org/tickets-events/on-your-feet or call (303) 893-4100, open 10:00AM - 8:00PM.
Photo by DCPA Press