Walking into the Marquis Theatre one is instantly aware you are about to get your latin groove on with the music of the iconic Gloria Estefan and The Miami Sound Machine, especially when the usher at the entrance reminds crowds to not forget to get your ‘Conga’ on. “On Your Feet” is the brand new musical which tells the story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, from their rise to the top against all odds, to their beautiful love story that endured a near fatal accident. Fans, and Americans in general, are aware of Gloria Estefan’s extensive music career that has expanded almost four decades making her one of the best selling music artists of all time.
Directed by Jerry Mitchell (“Kinky Boots), “On Your Feet” tells the story of a little girl who was forced to flee her native Cuba as a young girl, with her mother and sister due to Castro’s rise to Communist rule, leaving behind her father who was a soldier in the Cuban army. Gloria made a new life in Miami as someone who loved to sing, had talent, but was not encouraged by her mother to pursue this dream. Gloria meets Emilio and the story launches into high octane with many highs and enough lows to take the audience on this whirlwind rollercoaster.
Probably the most significant reason to make sure you see “On Your Feet” is the music. From the moment the show begins and the curtain rises the audience is treated to a full orchestrated band that fills the stage, complete with horns and percussion. The exhilarating ensemble are as much a part of the show as it’s stars which are not hidden away in a pit, but rather strategically move around the stage through the ever changing stage set. With a music catalogue as extensive as Gloria’s and the Miami Sound Machine it must not have been easy to curate through the artist’s repertoire, but songs are successfully chosen to tell the story with clever usage of Gloria’s Spanish tracks from later albums that are sung by other cast members. The audience is treated to a greatest hits concert of Gloria Estefan’s broad musical career which ranges from latin to pop to dance, while learning about the artist’s intriguing life that’s filled with equal parts triumphs, as it is with setbacks.
Many of those setbacks are part of the success of “On Your Feet” which reveals many of the obstacles Gloria faced throughout her life including taking care of her ailing father who suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, fighting a music industry that didn’t think the world was ready for a Latin crossover artist, as well as a near fatal car accident that changed her life forever.
Making her stage debut as Gloria is Ana Villafane who truly embodies the look and sound of Gloria throughout her career. Casting could not have been easy for this role to find a woman who resembles the icon, sounds like her and possesses a combination of strength, positivity, stage presence and down to earth sensibility. Josh Segarra plays Emilio Estefan with all the latter’s charm, confidence and good looks. Other standouts include Andrea Burns, who plays Gloria’s mother. Burns expertly conveys a mother’s struggle with her daughter, while showcasing her talent in a standout number about a career left behind. Alma Cuervo, who plays Gloria’s grandmother adds plenty of laughs, while showing her constant support of Gloria’s musical career.
“On Your Feet” is an inspirational story of the incredible impact the Estefan’s have had on the music industry and shaping American culture. Mrs. Estefan’s impact is showcased as being the first and most successful Latin artist to crossover to mainstream pop. Artists like JLO, Ricky Martin, Enrique Inglesius and more have the Estefan’s to thank for paving the way for their careers.
“On Your Feet” plays at the Marquis Theatre: 46th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue. Visit http://onyourfeetmusical.com/tickets for tickets.