BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET! THE EMILIO & GLORIA ESTEFAN MUSICAL at Bass Performance Hall
The rhythm definitely got me during ON YOUR FEET! and I left Bass Hall ready to dance my way home from Sundance Square. Watching the incredibly talented cast of ON YOUR FEET! THE EMILIO & Gloria Estefan MUSICAL tell such a beautiful and fast-paced story left me feeling exhilarated! ON YOUR FEET! perfectly chose Fort Worth to end their national tour and it was a welcome addition to the Broadway at the Bass 2018-2019 season at Bass Performance Hall.
Directed by two-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots), with choreography by Olivier Award winner Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys) and a book by Academy Award® winner Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman), ON YOUR FEET! features some of the most iconic songs of the past quarter-century, including "Rhythm is Gonna Get You," "Conga," "Get On Your Feet," "Don't Want To Lose You Now," "1-2-3" and "Coming Out of the Dark."
ON YOUR FEET! is the inspiring true story about heart, heritage and two people who believed in their talent-and each other-to become an international sensation: Gloria and Emilio Estefan. From the moment the first chord was struck and the orchestra started to play I was electrified by the concert-like lighting and funky Latin rhythms.
For a production as a whole this show was quite the feat. From the complex staging and choreography to the show-stopping performance from the orchestra you could easily color me impressed. Lighting design, by Kenneth Posner, and projection design, by Darrel Maloney, were two huge components in setting the tone for this production and they did not disappoint. The choice in combining these two aspects together made for stunning visual imagery and constant vibrancy on stage. Between the intimate kitchen scenes in Miami to the bright lights of being Miami Sound Machine being on tour Posner and Maloney did a fantastic job of illuminating us on the Emilio & Gloria Estefan story.
Scenic design by David Rockwell had me in awe. ON YOUR FEET! had more than its fair share of scene changes and Rockwall managed to make all of them look flawless with a twist of abstract reality. My favorite visual scenic design moment had to be when Gloria & Miami Sound Machine finally made it on tour and Gloria was performing to all of her adoring fans. The way the entire scene was orchestrated made me feel as if I was truly watching Gloria perform in concert.
Costume design by Emilio Sosa was authentic and colorful. Sosa wasted no rhinestone in creating Gloria's performance outfits and the results are dazzling. Music direction by Clay Ostwald and music coordination by Patrick Vaccariello was so crisp and perfectly orchestrated that it rocked the Bass. I had the hardest time not shimmying in my seat during the uptempo numbers and swaying to the ballads. The music had me enthralled the entire night. Choreography, by Sergio Trujillo, was entrancing from the opening number to bows. Watching the larger dance numbers was like watching fireworks burst on the 4th of July. Explosions of energy and crisp choreography made audience members ooh and ahh at the precision of it all.
The cast and crew of ON YOUR FEET! should be incredibly proud of the art they've created on national stages. There was an infectious buzz amongst audience members that can only be felt through the excitement of live theatre. ON YOUR FEET! is led by Eddie Noel who plays the talented, strong-willed musician Emilio Estefan. Noel's portrayal of Emilio was sincere, passionate and rational which perfectly paired with Christie Prades' Gloria Estefan. As a woman who has Caribbean music pumping through her veins I can say that I know Gloria Estefan. And Christie Prades IS Gloria Estefan. From the way Prades carries herself throughout her youth to the period of struggling through physical therapy, I was convinced I was watching Gloria grow up and age right before my very eyes. Prades' portrayal of Gloria was powerful and rebellious yet emotional and thoughtful. I fully expect to see more of Prades on Broadway stages in the near future!
In Latino families it's normal to have a set matriarchy and the Fajardos are no different. The women of the Fajardo family play an important role in ON YOUR FEET!. Without the women in her life Gloria wouldn't be the powerhouse that she is today. Consuelo, played by Debra Cardona, was a crowd favorite with her sly matriarchal ways and sassy, grandmotherly comebacks. Any time Cardona walked onstage the entire audience radiated with positive energy that only an Abuela can conjure up. Gloria Fajardo, played by Nancy Ticotin, was the stubborn, loving mother of Gloria and Ticotin was the perfect mami to Prades' Gloria. Together they had a fierce, headstrong relationship that emanated strength and vulnerability. It was a beautiful pairing!
Every single ensemble member in this show had me cheering for my life. It was like watching my very own Latin, musical theatre Super Bowl. The love of story-telling was evident with every movement and for that I thank: Anthony Alfaro, Jonathan Ariana, Skizzo Arnedillo, David Baida, Sam Cahn, Debra Cardona, Shadia Fairuz, Adriel Flete, Yesy Garcia, Devon Goffman, Ilda Mason, Alejandra Matos, Claudia Mulet, Eddie Noel, Marina Pires, Christie Prades, Jeremy Adam Rey, Gabriel Reyes, Joseph Rivera, Ana-Sofia Rodriguez, Maria Rodriguez, Jose Rosario Jr., Carmen Sanchez, Jeanpaul Medina Solano, Shani Talmor, Nancy Ticotin, Jordan Vergara, Claudia Yanez. ON YOUR FEET! truly proves that in Latin communities it takes a village to be successful and when we all lift each other up, we all rise. This representation on stages across America is pertinent now more than ever and this diverse cast has shown us what Americans truly look like.
Overall, I loved ON YOUR FEET! THE EMILIO & Gloria Estefan MUSICAL and was proud to purchase a show shirt afterwards. Dance don't walk to Bass Hall! The rhythm continues to beat through Bass Performance Hall until April 14 where the conga train officially stops for ON YOUR FEET! The Musical. Tickets and more information can be found at www.BassHall.com