BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET! National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center
On Your Feet! tells the true story of how a record-making and groundbreaking couple who, in the face of adversity, found a way to make it happen. From their humble beginnings in Cuba, Emilio and Gloria Estefan came to America and broke through all barriers to become a crossover sensation at the very top of the pop music world.
After having its out-of-town tryout at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, On Your Feet! made its Broadway debut on November 5th, 2015. While that production recently closed on August 20th, 2017 after a run of 746 performances, the musical is currently enjoying its afterlife with the U.S. national tour and international production going on in the Netherlands.
Let me start by saying that a few minutes into the performance I was attending, there was a technical mishap with a set piece, so they had to pause the show for a few minutes to fix it. With all of that aside, I will say that the book penned by Alexander Dinelaris doesn't feel as dramatically engaging as other biographical musicals, which I'm not viewing as a criticism by any means. In fact, he seemed to have done a pretty good job by having Act I go through all the trials and tribulations that stood in Gloria & Emilio's way of making it in the music industry with some heartfelt musical performances to go with them. Though it's in the middle of Act II where we really start to see some drama when something tragic happens (anyone who's familiar with the Estefan's history knows what I'm talking about).
Under the slick direction of Jerry Mitchell, the production has a very talented cast dancing to Sergio Trujillo's incredible choreography while wearing Emilio Sosa's stylish costumes under Kenneth Posner's excellent lighting. Christie Prades was out sick at the performance I was at, so her understudy, Arianna Rosario, went on as Gloria Estefan. In any case, Rosario shines like a star up on stage, showing herself as a true triple threat. She's even got some great scenes opposite Mauricio Martinez as Emilio Estefan, who proves to be a perfect match for her. Other highlights include Nancy Ticotin as Gloria's overprotective mother, Gloria Fajardo, and Alma Cuervo as Gloria's encouraging grandmother, Consuelo Garcia. Not to mention some nice juvenile performances from Amaris Sanchez as Little Gloria and Jordan Vergara in the roles of Nayib, Young Emilio, and Jeremy.
Overall, On Your Feet! is wonderfully funny, entertaining, and heartfelt with a great message. There is nothing like the Conga to help ring in the New Year. This national touring production is currently playing at the Durham Performing Arts Center through January 7th.