On Your Feet! preview review

There are enough bios, magazine articles, and interviews for you to think you know all there is to know about Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García de Estefan, known professionally as Gloria Estefan, and Emilio Estefan, one of the original musicians in the Miami Latin Boys, a Miami-based band that played weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. But not until you see On Your Feet! do you get a true sense of their family support, extraordinary talent, dedication and genuine respect for one another. Only when you see this show do you really understand the sacrifices, struggles and passion that drove and continues to drive Emilio the “machine” and Gloria the “sound” to their well-deserved super-stardom.downloadestefan cast

Even before the curtain goes up (you hear amusing backstage banter between the real Gloria and Emilio regarding his cell phone – his is on vibrate when it should be turned off), you feel their mutually loving, and humor-filled dynamic. Then, the music of the Miami Sound Machine begins and before The Rhythm is Gonna Get you, you are “On Your Feet!”

on-your-feet-1The book for the show, written by Alexander Dinelaris, demonstrates the brilliant salesmanship of Emilio who recognized the power of the Miami club scene and the need for local fan support in order to move the Miami Sound Machine, initially thought of by the music industry as a Latin band with one huge hit “The Conga”, to the next level of crossover recognition.

The clever exchanges between Emilio and Gloria, the resonating mother-daughter conflicts, the initially strong influence of Gloria’s father (stricken by MS), the moral support of her sister Rebecca, and the kind encouragement of Gloria’s abuela (grandmother), give some background to this incredible tale of extraordinary success.

Ana Villafane who plays Gloria, is fantastic – her voice, dance movements, physical appearance and subtle nuances are so believable that you forget she is an actress portraying Gloria and is not Gloria herself. Josh Segarra who plays Emilio with laid back wit and sensitivity generates the charm, kindness and passion that Emilio genuinely exudes in person.

Everyone in the cast was remarkably talented and the choreography (Sergio Trujillo) is superb. And the music … well, The Miami Sound Machine … had us dancing in the aisles.

All I can do is rave about this inspirational, fun, poignant and absolutely wonderful show. If you see only one Broadway production in New York, let it be “On Your Feet!” at the Marquis Theatre.

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