Another pre-Broadway show in Chicago. It must be our audiences that turn on the producers of new shows. Chicago audiences are amazingly knowledgeable about theater and show their appreciation better than any others. The current production, strutting its stuff at The Oriental Theatre is “On Your Feet!”, a biographical musical that tells the story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan. The show has been running for several weeks as they make the changes needed to prepare the final production. Many have told me , prior to my seeing the show, how amazing it was.
While I agree that the energy of this cast exceeded my expectations, and the story was nice (if all is factual) I am thinking that this show will probably survive on Broadway because of the music of Gloria Estefan. Songs like “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You”, “Conga”, “1-2-3”, “Mi Tierra”, “Don’t Want To Lose You Now”, and of course “On Your Feet”. With a book by Alexander Dinelaris and the music of Emilio and Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine, the producers have assembled the best of Broadway to make this show the gem that it is. A great idea, as these people know what audiences want.
Directed by Jerry Mitchell ( he was here with “Kinky Boots”- a success!) and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo ( “Jersey Boys”) and a technical group that have mantels filled with awards, this show is high energy with two hours of great story telling. The ensemble changes roles and costumes rapidly, never missing a beat. Ana Villafane is amazing as Gloria Estefan. In fact, except for her height, she is the spitting image, her voice capturing the soul of the woman. Josh Segarra brings a taller image to Emilio, but we can see the chemistry that brought these two together for their rise to superstardom. In the story we meet her family and learn about the losses the family faced as they left their beloved Cuba to start anew in the United States.
The story is not one that is unusual. Two people who share a dream and are dedicated to each other live through the ups and downs of life. This story is told through the energy of the music and the performance of some amazing talents. Alexandrai Suarez plays young Gloria and the amazing Andrea Burns, her Mama. Grandma, Consuelo ,the very comical Alma Cuervo and young Eduardo Hernandez will take your breath away with his amazing dance movement ( he is truly a star on the rise).
A production such as this relies heavily on the strength of the ensemble. These are the talented people who become all the other characters that tell the story, often in moments. Karmine Alers, Yassmin Alers, David Baida, Natalie Caruncho, Olivia Coronel, Henry Gainza, Linedy Genao, Carlos E. Gonzalez, Nina LaFarga, Omar Lopez-Cepero, Hector Maisonet, Marielys Molina, Felix Monge, Doreen Montalvo, Genny Lis Padilla, Liz Ramos, Eliseo Roman, Luis Salgado, Marcos Santana, Martin Sola, Brett Sturgis, Eric Ulloa, Tanairi Sade Vazquez and Lee Zarrett. All solid performers, who truly make this show what it is!
The music is what started the story and the orchestra is onstage for the entire production. Lon Hoyt is the music director and has assembled some dynamite players including several members of The Miami Sound Machine, making this story of even greater heart and soul. They were there! They knew the love story, the pain and sorrow of the accident that almost destroyed this great American Dream,and the comeback that brings us to today, and soon to New York and Broadway!
“On Your Feet!” will remain here only until July 5th and then move on to the Marquis Theatre for an opening on November 5th ( my birthday, thank you), Try to catch it while it is here at the Oriental Theatre located at 24 West Randolph Street. Tickets range from $33- $100 (very affordable) and can be purchased at any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, by calling the Broadway In Chicago Ticketline at 800-775-2000, at all Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com, where you can also purchase discounted parking.
More info- www.OnYourFeetMusical.com. I assure you that by the end of this musical entertainment , you will be “On Your Feet!”
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “On Your Feet!”.