You don’t need to go to Madison Square Garden to hear great music this fall. Just head over to the Marquis Theatre and hear the amazing music of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, woven together with an incredible heartfelt story.
The plot of On Your Feet! is explained right in its subtitle: it’s “the story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan.” Stylistically, it’s as if Beautiful and In the Heights had a baby who was raised surrounded by a lot of glitter. There’s the biographical element of singing the songs of the show’s main character while the singer is performing, a la Beautiful and Jersey Boys. But some songs follow the more traditional musical theatre element of just telling the story with a popular song like Mamma Mia or All Shook Up. On Your Feet shines because it brings in the heartwarming aspect with an emphasis on family and following your dreams.
Ana Villafañe makes her Broadway debut as Gloria, and even though she’s only 19, she packs a lot of punch. Her voice is absolutely incredible and she does a wonderful job approaching the role as an actress just playing a person instead of just giving a great Gloria Estefan impression. She’s full of fire and love and passion and you can’t help but smile when she sings. The one downside of her youth is that visually it was sometimes hard to see her as an older woman, just because she looks so fresh faced. She seems stuck at the same age, even though Gloria ages a fair amount in the show. Josh Segarra is a much more subtle creature as Emilio, with a rough and soft-spoken vocal quality that was a wonderful constrast to Villafañe. Their chemistry together was white-hot and really helped sell the relationship.
As great as Villafañe and Segarra were – and they were excellent – Andréa Burns playing Gloria Fajardo walked away with the show. Every time she was onstage, I couldn’t pay attention to anyone else. She is a force to be reckoned with. Commanding, sarcastic, heartbreaking, she can do no wrong. Alma Cuervo as Consuelo also brings a lot of fun and warmth to her role as Gloria’s bombastic grandmother Consuelo.
The music of the show supported by the choreography by Sergio Trujillo is vibrant and fun. It is very much like going to a concert with the energy of the performers and bright lights on the stage that frequently go out and over the audience. The orchestra performs visibly onstage much of the time, and since many members of the orchestra were original members of the Miami Sound Machine (Gloria Estefan’s band) there’s an extra element of passion and adrenaline that accompanies any moment they are onstage.
Director Jerry Mitchell deftly helmed the production, keeping with the bright colors and sequins grounded with the heart-warming aspect of the importance of family. The audience was with the story every step of the way. Every laugh landed, lines got applause in the middle of the show, and there was plenty of cheering throughout. You could particularly see the joy in the Act I finale of “Conga” when the audience got directly pulled into the action, literally.In short, On Your Feet! is a bombastic, feel god story with an amazing cast and fantastic music pulling everyone along for the ride. Do not miss out! On Your Feet! is playing at the Marquis Theatre for an open ended run.
Review By: Chrissy Cody
Photos By: Matthew Murphy