Regional Reviews: Boston
On Your Feet!
The jukebox musical is based on the lives of the husband and wife team, from her humble beginnings in Little Havana in Miami. She lived with her mother Gloria (Nancy Ticotin), her maternal grandmother Consuelo (Debra Cardona), younger sister Rebecca (Claudia Yanez), and was a primary caretaker of her father José (Jason Martinez) who battled multiple sclerosis. Emilio invited Gloria to try out one of her songs with his band, Miami Latin Boys, and although she was reluctant to be in the spotlight, was fortified by her grandmother's encouragement. Mom is not on board, but Gloria takes to the music business and to Emilio, and he to her. Their romance and success blossom on parallel tracks, and they eventually launch a worldwide tour.
After 40 years in the public eye, most of the Estefan story is familiar, but the themes remain appealing. It is a beautiful love story that shows how Gloria and Emilio pursue their passion together, overcoming adversity when they had to stand up to their record company to be able to cross over from Latin pop, to win over Gloria's mother, and, perhaps most challenging of all, to come back from a devastating accident. The book chronicles all of this without going too deep, but enough to inform us, and move the story from point A to point B.
The real draw for On Your Feet! is the score, filled with iconic hits that are vibrantly played by ten musicians onstage, and Trujillo's exciting choreography, energetically and crisply danced by a talented ensemble. Prades is exceptional and charismatic in bringing Gloria to life, resembling her but not imitating her. She and Martínez have great chemistry on all fronts, singing beautifully together, as well as providing more than a little sizzle in their romance. Ticotin really rocks her vocals as Gloria's mother, who had also been a singer as a young woman. (Karmine Alers plays the role April 24-29) As for the rest of the family, Cardona is warm and earthy, and J. Martinez has a couple of soaring vocals.
I don't think anyone wowed the audience as much as Carlos Carreras, the youngster playing multiple roles (Estefan's son Nayib, a bar mitzvah boy, and young Emilio). His stage presence and rapid-fire dance moves must be seen to be believed. (Jordan Vergara alternates in the role). Ana-Sofia Rodriguez as Little Gloria (alternates with Carmen Sanchez) has gobs of talent and displays maturity beyond her years.
Scenic design by David Rockwell utilizes a lot of sliding panels and is augmented by Darrel Maloney's projection design and Kenneth Posner's lighting design. During concert scenes, there are large neon displays behind the band, on risers upstage (sometimes hidden from view), as well as sweeping swaths of light from colored spotlights surrounding the proscenium. SCK Sound Design makes all the music sound great (some of the dialogue sequences could use more volume). Costume designer Emilio Sosa captures a colorful look for the denizens of Little Havana, and creates wonderful fashions with Latin flavor for Gloria's performances.
On Your Feet! opened on Broadway on November 5, 2015, and played 780 performances before closing on August 20, 2017. The first national tour launched in September, 2017, and is scheduled to run for 80 weeks. It incorporates a variety of music and rhythms, from Cuban roots to dance, pop, and everything in between, but it's all joyful and filled with energy. This is a show for everyone who could use a little inspiration and a nudge to get off the couch. As the song says, "Get on Your Feet" and dance on over to the Boston Opera House. I can guarantee the "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You."
On Your Feet!, through April 29, 2018, at the Boston Opera House, 539 Washington Street, Boston MA. Part of the Lexus Broadway in Boston Season. Tickets available at Ticketmaster, by calling 800-982-2787, or at www.BroadwayInBoston.com. For more information on the tour, visit onyourfeetmusical.com/tour/.
Book by Alexander Dinelaris, Featuring Music Produced and Recorded by Emilio & Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine; Directed by Jerry Mitchell; Choreographed by Sergio Trujillo; Music Direction, Clay Ostwald; Scenic Design, David Rockwell; Costume Design, Emilio Sosa; Lighting Design, Kenneth Posner; Sound Design, SCK Sound Design; Projection Design, Darrel Maloney; Wig and Hair Design, Charles G. LaPointe; Production Stage Manager, Brian Bogin
Cast (in order of appearance): Mauricio Martínez, Carlos Carreras, Jordan Vergara, Christie Prades, Ana-Sofia Rodriguez, Carmen Sanchez, Jason Martinez, Nancy Ticotin, Karmine Alers, Debra Cardona, Claudia Yanez, Adriel Flete, Danny Burgos, Hector Maisonet, Devon Goffman, Jonathan Arana, Eddie Noel, Claudia Mulet; Ensemble: Michelle Alves, Marina Pires, Shadia Fairuz, Sam J. Cahn, Sarita Colon, Jeremy Adam Rey, Joseph Rivera, Maria Rodriguez, Shani Talmor