Chad Reviews "On Your Feet: The Emilio And Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical"
The year was 1987, and I was a senior in high school who had just gone through a particularly bad break-up with my girlfriend. She was an alto and I was a bass/baritone in our choir ensemble, and when our next concert came around, she chose “Anything For You” by Gloria Estefan to do as a solo. Throughout the entire performance the night of the show, she stared daggers into my soul from across the riser, so it is easy to see why I have despised that song ever since. It would also taint my opinion of the entire catalog of Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine, so also imagine my incredible lack of enthusiasm when it was announced that the next musical coming to Fair Park Music Hall was the story of her life, career and marriage to her husband Emilio in “On Your Feet!”.
The production opens in 1990 as Gloria’s (Christian Prades) career is full speed ahead. She and husband Emilio (Mauricio Martinez) are backstage at a packed house when the story goes back the their early days as the couple met and the concept of their signature sound took shape. Beloved by her parents Jose (Jason Martinez) and Gloria (Nancy Ticotin) as well as doting a grandmother Consuelo (Debra Cardona) and little sister Rebecca (Claudia Yanez), Gloria begins to come into her own as a singer and performer after a shaky and awkward introduction to Emilio, whom immediately begins to develop feelings for her. From there, the story follows their path from club gigs to concert halls as they face unpredictable and sometimes practically insurmountable odds to become a musical powerhouse that would influence popular music for decades.
I am pleased to report that this production miraculously achieved the impossible by making fall in love with Gloria Estefan. I now have such a deeper appreciation for both what she accomplished and what she went through to do it. Prades encapsulates her fiery spirit and steely determination impeccably, and Martinez (although a bit cartoonish at times) has remarkable chemistry with her as her manager, support staff, and most importantly soul mate. Ticotin as the overbearing mother could have easily come off as clichéd, but works brilliantly here, and Cardona practically steals the show in every scene she is in. I simply can’t heap enough praise on this production, from wardrobe to lighting and stage design, everything coalesces remarkably. I strongly encourage each one of you to get off the couch and into the Music Hall, as this is only in Dallas through March 11th. It’s a top-notch production full of feel good moments that simply should not be missed.