BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET! Is a Happy Musical Treat at the Hollywood Pantages

BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET! Is a Happy Musical Treat at the Hollywood Pantages

On Your Feet!/The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical/book by Alexander Dinelaris/featuring music produced and recorded by Emilio & Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine/directed by Jerry Mitchell/choreographed by Sergio Trujillo/Hollywood Pantages Theatre/through July 29

Called a Jukebox Musical, On Your Feet! is so much more. It is the true story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan. At 17 in 1970s Miami, Gloria Fajardo met record producer and musician extraordinaire Emilio and they fell in love at first sight. Estefan recognized Gloria's supreme singing artistry and chose her as the female vocalist in his all male Latino boy group that later grew into the Miami Sound Machine. This story, via Emilio and Gloria's music, tells a rich nd passionate story of how two unknown Cubans made it to the top, but not without tragedy and sorrow. Currently onstage at the Hollywood Pantages through July 29 only, this national touring production consists of a dynamic ensemble under the outstanding direction of Jerry Mitchell.

BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET! Is a Happy Musical Treat at the Hollywood Pantages

Christie Prades as Gloria and Mauricio Martinez as Emilio are triple threat performers who really let emotions soar throughout the show. Gloria's grandma or abuelita Consuelo (Debra Cardona) who had to leave Cuba and put her past behind her pushed young Gloria to choose a career that she truly loved. Gloria's mother, also Gloria (Nancy Ticotin) had been a promising singer in Havana and was chosen to go to Hollywood to do the Spanish voice-over for Shirley Temple, but it never worked out and she was forced to leave Cuba as well. Her husband, Gloria's father, Jose (Jason Martinez) was an officer of the Castro regime and could not leave. He eventually got sick with MS and was sent back to Miami to live with his wife and two daughters. Rebecca (Claudia Yanez) is Gloria's sister. Gloria adored and took care of her father until his death and stayed close to her mother, but there was friction between them, as Gloria Sr. objected to her daughter's relationship with Emilio. In the late 80s when Gloria became a huge success with the Miami Sound Machine, because of Emilio's hardnosed control, a bus accident injured her spine nd threatened to leave her with permanent paralysis. After recuperative surgery, through the love of Emilio, Rebecca, her mother and son Young Emilio (Carlos Carreras), she reluctantly agreed to accept Dick Clark's invitation to sing at the American Music Awards and resume her career.

BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET! Is a Happy Musical Treat at the Hollywood Pantages

This show is blessed with a strong cast who carry off Mitchell's slick direction and Sergio Trujillo's sizzling choreography to the max. Prades as Gloria sings her heart out and is completely invested in Gloria's life and love for her family. Martinez as Emilio is a theatrical treasure with a magnificent voice and an unrelenting drive and fervor. He makes us realize just how great a producer Emilio really was and still is. When a record company refused to allow them to perform one song in English as crossover artists, he took a firm stand, "This is what an American looks like." Martinez's performance is nothing short of astounding. Ticotin and Cardona are both marvelous, and the child actor playing Young Emilio (Carreras shares the role with Jordan Vergara) steals every scene he's in with his dynamite dancing ability. Praise to the entire ensemble, and to David Rockwell for his lovely pastel colors in the scenic design, to Emilio Sosa for colorful costuming, and to Darrel Maloney for wonderful projection design,. Kudos as well to Kenneth Posner for fab lighting and to SCK Sound Design, that blows the roof off the Pantages. And to music director Clay Ostwald and his beautiful live orchestra!

One example of the tremendous humor peppered throughout Alexander Dinelaris' script is the "Conga" number at the end of Act One. Emilio was not content to simply play amongst his own, but took the tune to bar mitzvahs, Italian weddings and into Vegas, where it became the musical rage for every American. What a great sense of community really having fun!

BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET! Is a Happy Musical Treat at the Hollywood Pantages

Don't miss On Your Feet! It's a joyously entertaining evening. You will revel in Gloria Estefan's beautiful songs, one "If I Never Got to Tell You" written with her daughter Emily, and exult in Emilio's tenacity and love. These crossover artists have truly merited our adoration.

www.hollywoodpantages.com

(photo credit: Matthew Murphy)

BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET! Is a Happy Musical Treat at the Hollywood Pantages



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