BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET! A Standing Ovation to Start CLO's Summer Season

BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET! A Standing Ovation to Start CLO's Summer Season

The rhythm is gonna get you when you attend the first musical of the CLO's 72nd season. On Your Feet!, the real-life story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, is crammed with dozens of Latin-infused hits spanning more than three decades. The biomusical is hip, glitzy, extravagant, and theatrical, all the while maintaining a consistent storyline that offers welcomed depth and insight to the show.

Like any American teenager, Gloria (Christie Prades) is torn between her family and her passion. She is a good child, taking care of her family while juggling her own interests, but it isn't until her abuela Consuelo (Debra Cardona) encourages her to join a band that she sees her calling, and future husband Emilio (Mauricio Martínez). To her mother's disapproval, Gloria plays gig after gig with the band, traveling across much of the South and maturing into a young and independent woman.

In addition to combative conversations with her mother, Gloria faces more pushback at the record label than most; being the descendants of Cuban immigrants, Gloria and Emilio battle the pressures of discriminatory pigeon holing into being just Latin artists.

Conga, the band's signature hit crossover, was their biggest challenge; the US market claimed the sound to be too Latin and the Latin market claimed the sound to be too American. The song's popularity grew with the passion and persistency of the Estefan's and reflected their will and determination to succeed.

The band would continue producing hit after hit for decades to come, and Gloria would eventually rekindle her relationship with her mother, oddly enough, thanks to a near death experience publicized around the world.

Chart topper and club hits fill the theatre in this show, but it is not a constant cacophonic barrage of horns and congas. Sure, there are portions when the entire theatre becomes engaged, clapping along and dancing in the aisles.

But it could be argued that the synchronized lighting cues and live, on-stage band juxtapose too harshly the duller, subtler moments of the show that develop characters and plot. These lack noticeable intensity and fervor compared to the riveting and captivating concert numbers that feature hot dancing, colorful costumes, and rhythmic sounds.

Speaking of dancing, kudos to choreographer Sergio Trujillo, whose impeccable vision received a Tony Award nomination when the CLO co-produced show originally appeared on Broadway a few years ago. The company does a stellar job to keep their feet and soul in tune with the music. The audience feeds off this energy, and it is reciprocated symbiotically.

This jukebox musical chronicles the Estefan's life in a way that would otherwise be forgotten or forever shielded from the public's eye. Their story is not unlike many in this country, but their moral standing is strong, and their songs are extremely catchy, to put it bluntly. On Your Feet! is a story about love and triumph, overcoming adversities and determined resolution. This party will leave you exhilarated and ready to head to the discoteca!

To see or not to see score: 7/9; Recommended Show

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

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From This Author Dylan Shaffer

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