‘On Your Feet!’ Celebrates Music, Love and Life

‘On Your Feet!’ Celebrates Music, Love and Life

It should come as no surprise that On Your Feet! is super uplifting. This musical, based on the lives of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, brings all their hits to the stage with the added benefit of compelling backstory. The Estefans’ epic love of music and each other makes this one of the most inspiring and romantic shows in recent Broadway history.

Both Emilio and Gloria are bonkers talented at what they do. They first meet in the late 1970s when Emilio asks Gloria to jam with his band. She proves to be a great songwriter, he proves to be a fantastic bandleader and producer and together (with the Miami Sound Machine), they start recording and releasing albums. Their fusion of Latino dance music with American pop ballads caught on with fans, leading to multiple Billboard hits. By the late 80s, Gloria becomes a solo artist. Then in March of 1990, her tour bus is involved in an accident and she has some serious surgery to repair a spinal injury. A lot of hard work, determination and support from family, friends and fans helps Gloria get back to performing. Her comeback at the 1991 American Music Awards is as moving as it is iconic.

I am blown away by Ana Villafañe. In her Broadway debut, Villafañe is spot-on as Gloria. She’s fierce, compassionate and someone you are totally rooting for as she takes an actual journey (hello, world tour!) trying to find that balance of having a family and career. And Villafañe sounds like Gloria so much that I legitimately felt like I was being transported back to my childhood. (Yes, Gloria’s music in the 1980s-90s was jammed to by yours truly because even little girls in the Midwest knew all the words to “1-2-3” and “Rhythm is Gonna Get You.”) Josh Segarra’s Emilio is equal parts authoritative and vulnerable. It’s easy to see why Gloria would be attracted to this guy; he’s got a goofy side, but he’s very protective and so, so smart. Sure, you can’t understand what he says some of the time (to be fair, some characters don’t either), but you cheer them on because that’s true love. You can feel it in their music and you can see it on that stage—heart eyes for a lifetime, friends.

But in all seriousness, the entire cast puts on an amazing show. Andréa Burns’ performance as Gloria’s mother is heartbreaking. Eduardo Hernandez makes me smile so hard every time he comes out on stage. (You have some serious moves, young man!) The dancing is so high energy and full of life, thanks to choreographer Sergio Trujillo.

On Your Feet! has you moving in your seat from note one. That blast of brass, guitars (you know, “with the syncopated rhythm with the scratch, scratch, scratch…”) and drums make you want to dance, too. But, like a good audience member, you keep las nalgas in your seat until the finale, at which point you can “get up and make it happen.”

So “come on, shake your body baby, do the conga” on over to the Marquis Theatre at W. 46th Street and Broadway. “Don't you fight it 'til you tried it;” go see On Your Feet!

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

Comments

Another great article by Katie Labovitz! I can't wait for this show to come to Chicago

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