For as long as director Jerry Mitchell and choreographer Sergio Trujillo can keep their new Broadway musical in motion, and they do so for nearly all of its wonderfully vivacious and entertaining first act, On Your Feet is a dazzling display of Latin-American musical culture, telling the professional and romantic story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan...Bookwriter Alexander Dinelaris'...cleverest move is to ignore chronology, letting the songs serve the situations...Ana Villafane makes an impressive Broadway debut as Gloria, growing from a shy teen to a confident professional...As Emilio, Josh Segarra is a strong and sympathetic presence...On Your Feet's second act suffers from a common trap when jukebox musicals turn dramatic; there are no songs that specifically address the issues at hand. With little to dance about, the show drags its heels to the plot's triumphant finish that immediately blasts into a boisterious finale, full of spangled costumes and energetic dance solos.
ON YOUR FEET Broadway Reviews
Reviews of On Your Feet on Broadway. See what all the critics had to say and see all the ratings for On Your Feet including the New York Times and More...
BWW Review: ON YOUR FEET - Gloria and Emilio Estefan Bio-Musical Is Vivacious and Entertaining When the Music and Dancers Sizzle
"On Your Feet!" is uneven and occasionally long-winded. It's also sometimes inspiring and uplifting. The two lead performers, Ana Villafañe and Josh Segarra, are charismatic, in different ways. Numerous jukebox musical tropes are at work in "On Your Feet!"...What the musical does best, though, is illustrate the sacrifices it took for the Estefans to succeed...Villafañe, also a Cuban immigrant from Miami, looks and sounds like Estefan...As Grammy-winning producer Emilio Estefan, Segarra ("Lysistrata Jones") sings in a subdued way. His acting is more engaging, and his entrance, in a pair of only-in-Miami shorts, is charming. Dinelaris's book does some unnecessary pandering..."On Your Feet!" isn't quite "Jersey Boys," but in places, the rhythm is gonna get you.
Broadway's latest greatest-hits album, "On Your Feet!: The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan," is what the subtitle promises...Alexander Dinelaris's book is heavy on the Hollywoodian clichés, but it has its charming moments, too, and every other aspect of the production, directed by Jerry Mitchell, is slick and satisfying, starting with the smoking-hot choreography of Sergio Trujillo and the tear-it-up onstage band. Not only does Broadway debutante Ana Villafañe look, sing and dance like Ms. Estefan, but she acts well enough to make me want to see her in more challenging fare. Yes, I know, it's just a jukebox musical, but I liked "On Your Feet!" In fact, I liked it a lot -- and I think you might, too.
As story-telling, On Your Feet! can be as clunkily generic as the title. But there's a deep well of life in the music that comes across powerfully in the staging - especially in that central supernova performance by a young actress I hope we'll be seeing a lot more of.
The infectious, earnest musical "On Your Feet!" initially stutters out the gate and ends somewhat awkwardly, but has a fun, percussive middle, even as it skates perilously close to melodrama. It's saved by its genuine heart - and a list of great tunes, ones that nicely make the transition from radio to stage.
Miserable affairs, angsty German teens and sad-sack British royals - in shows like "Thérèse Raquin," "Spring Awakening" and "King Charles III" - have made the season a dour one. Even the blockbuster "Hamilton" ends on a melancholy note. So it's a pleasure to welcome "On Your Feet!," the rare show that earns its exclamation mark. Inspired by the life and music of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, it literally gets the audience off its seats and into a conga line.
..the shrewd book writer Alexander Dinelaris finds conflict instead in the Estefans' insistence to the skeptical men in suits that the Sound Machine's signature hybrid of guitar, synthesizer and Latin rhythms...actually is the new sound of an America with a changed face...Dinelaris finds more tension in Gloria's long estrangement from her mother...You never doubt that all of these obstacles will be overcome by hard work and mutual affection...but one great asset of this show is that the struggles still feel emblematic of the greater immigrant struggle, which Broadway has charted as long as there has been a Broadway...In the lead role of Gloria, newcomer Ana Villafane has found her voice and emotional core since a more tentative Chicago debut. Villafane does not have the formidably rich Estefan lower register...but her interpretations of the Estefan hits are quite lovely because they feel rooted in the kind of warmth and sincerity that marks the reputation of their subject.
First Nighter: The Gloria and Emilio Estefan Musical "On Your Feet!" Rhythm is Calculated to Get You
Let it immediately be said, audiences will certainly get their money's worth at On Your Feet! if they're enamored of the hot-hot music spread around the globe in tandem by Gloria (Ana Villafane, standing in for the real thing and with energy to spare) and hubby Emilio (Josh Segarra, soigné and sexy as hell in this incarnation). Director Jerry Mitchell helps deliver what's called for in jukebox endeavors like this one. Providing even more oomph is choreographer Sergio Trujillo, who brings on his dancers at the first high-decibel sound blast from the large band Lon Hoyt conducts. Then Trujillo carries on with great regularity from big start to even bigger finish and then right into the curtain call. He hardly stops sending his indefatigable terpers into routines characterized by much shoulder manipulation, hand-clapping and hip swiveling.
If the producers of "On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan" know what's good for them (odds are, they do), they're ad-bombing Spanish-language media outlets and pitching group sales 24/7. That's the way to go with a surefire audience pleaser like this jukebox musical built around the life and career of Cuban-American superstar Gloria Estefan. Newcomer Ana Villafane (who originated the role in the show's Chicago premiere) is a knockout in the leading role, the dazzling centerpiece of this flashy, splashy spectacle helmed by Jerry Mitchell.
As for the star, her seeming effortlessness is also a distinguishing quality of the perfectly cast Villafane. She's a natural, not only bearing a more-than-passing resemblance to the young Gloria Estefan, but also producing a fine facsimile of the original's vocal power. Balancing softness with a feisty side, she provides a captivating human center to this enjoyable show, helping to elevate it above the more workmanlike aspects of its assembly.
The recipe may be familiar, but the flavor is fresh in "On Your Feet!," the half-formulaic, half-original and undeniably crowd-pleasing musical about the lives of Emilio and Gloria Estefan that opened on Thursday at the Marquis Theater. To cite the most unusual element: Many a musical could be described as a car crash, but I can't think of any in which such a calamity figures as a dramatic turning point. Still, it's no spoiler to say that the show includes the accident that threatened Ms. Estefan's life and might have ended her career. Fans of hers will recall that 1990 incident, which darkens the second act and brings some gravity to this mostly flashy, salsa-splashed show.
"On Your Feet!," which had its official opening Thursday night, now takes its place in the upper echelons of the jukebox genre, a club that already admitted the Tony-winning "Jersey Boys" and the more recent Broadway hit "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical." None of these qualify as great art, although they make for polished commercial properties: the breakthrough of "Jersey Boys" was in demonstrating how a clever narrative mitigates some of the form's rampant cliches. Like these earlier entries, "On Your Feet!" is a vehicle for delivery of a vibrant songbook and yet another version of that familiar American music-business story - the rise from humble origins of an artist of extraordinary gifts, who faces formidable personal challenges but by dint of will and talent emerges triumphant.
Imagine a "Funny Girl" in which Nicky Arnstein is Fanny Brice's talented, hard-working manager-collaborator. That plot would pretty much sum up the love story and rise to fame of Emilio and Gloria Estefan in their new jukebox musical, "On Your Feet!," which opened Thursday at the Marquis Theatre.
What Broadway's newest entry in our unofficial personal-history-of-pop-music series has are lots of much-loved Grammy-winning songs by arguably America's most successful Latin crossover team. Significantly, the Estefans are a major producer of the show. There is also an excellent portrayal of Gloria by Ana Villafañe, complete with iconic toreador outfits and big luscious hair, and a really fine onstage orchestra driven by brass and Latin percussion.
Despite its unenthralling dramatics, the show does have an underlying warmth, in showing the closeness and caring of a family across generations, and also a sympathetic, good-natured marital relationship. Its chief assets, though, are those musical routines, which, in addition to "Conga," include "Get on Your Feet," "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" and many other energized numbers, as well as several sweet ballads used as character songs. "On Your Feet!" is not going to revolutionize Broadway, but, alongside a bland story, it does offer some musical fireworks.
Is the rhythm going to get you? Very likely. But there are few other enticements in On Your Feet!...There's some dramatic conflict here -- a sick father, an ostensibly disapproving mother, a terrible accident and an arduous recovery -- though perhaps not quite enough to justify a conventional book musical...The opening, with its forceful sound and crisscrossing beams of laser lights, promises something a little different. The live band is front and center here. Then it is quickly secreted behind some scenery. Why? The music (even with some of the awful 80s guitars and keyboards intact) is easily the most compelling element...Ana Villafañe, making her Broadway debut as Gloria, is a terrific singer and perfectly adequate actress. Josh Segarra, undistinguished in a couple of earlier roles, is quite charismatic as Emilio...Andréa Burns, as Gloria's queenly mother, deserves better material.
I'm no fan of jukebox musicals. If they're the type that tell an invented tale, like Mamma Mia! or Rock of Ages, the book is generally rendered idiotic by the effort to accommodate the songs. If they're instead pop biographies, like Jersey Boys and Beautiful, the problem is even worse because the songs, too, are denatured, by the effort to accommodate a preexisting storyline. Furthermore, the structure of musicals in the second category can only lead to a bathetic climax: In the final scenes, the protagonists (Frankie Valli, Carole King) become exactly who we already knew them to be. That's more than ever the case with the new Gloria Estefan jukebox musical On Your Feet! because if you don't arrive at the Marquis Theatre knowing the billboard headlines of her story (Cuban immigrant becomes American pop star, gets hit by a truck, eventually returns in triumph) why are you there? The only real issues for me in approaching a show like this are the fun of the tunes and the ingenuity of the distraction. To say that On Your Feet! is better than most of its ilk is therefore faint praise; it means you might have almost as good a time as you would if it were merely a concert.
‘On Your Feet!’ review: Gloria and Emilio Estefan Broadway musical has a catchy beat and a corny story
A paint-by-numbers portrait can still be colorful - and a kick. Case in point: "On Your Feet!," a predictable but entertaining show about Gloria Estefan and her music-producer husband Emilio. The jukebox musical checks off all the usual-suspect plot points: humble roots, showbiz hurdles, tragedy, triumph, plus a gratuitous dance concert as a chaser.
Sadly, the broad, obvious strokes used by librettist Alexander Dinelaris, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Birdman, prove not so appealing. In crafting a book that tells the Estefans' back story, weaving in their songs, Dinelaris follows a template used before in jukebox musicals, perhaps most successfully in Jersey Boys. That enduring hit (also choreographed by Trujillo) follows the ups and downs of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons with a mostly light, deft touch, ensuring that the focus is on the songs as vehicles for the performers.
"On Your Feet!" has a whitewashed, corporate-approved texture, which makes Gloria and Emilio come off as utterly devoid of personality despite their accomplishments and personal drama. It's so self-congratulatory that one gets the impression that they personally vetted every line. The production (directed by Jerry Mitchell and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo) comes to life during upbeat production numbers, which have lively, salsa-flavored movement and a hot sound. But more often than not, it gets mired in flashbacks and other downbeat sequences in which the songs lack impact. It feels rather like a pop concert that is too often paused...Ana Villafañe...is a beauty with a bright presence. She receives solid support from Josh Segarra as the gentle Emilio and Andréa Burns as Gloria's stern mother.