January has properly arrived in Minnesota with frigid temperatures, but luckily for us we also live in a city filled with local and touring theatrical productions to transport us someplace warmer. One such show is the touring production of On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, currently playing at the Orpheum Theater through Sunday January 27th. It is a show filled with toe tapping music (that has been stuck in my head for days now), that will transport you to warm locations such as Miami and Cuba.
The show starts with one of Gloria Estefan's greatest hits "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" at a big concert well into the Miami Sound Machine's international fame. It puts the show's band front and center leaving no doubt in your mind of the roll that music will play in this show. The band is large, producing a rich latin sound that is too rare on the musical theater stage.
Soon the backdrop falls, transporting us from a Gloria Estefan concert in 1990 to Miami in 1967 and the start of Gloria Estefan's story. She sings to her neighbors and friends, clearly a star from a young age. The story moves on to her teenage years when she meets Emilio Estefan and the Miami Latin Boys become the Miami Sound Machine. The musical covers not only the band's rise to fame, often times through grit and hard work alone, but it also Gloria and Emilio's relationship. It also cover's their own families stories, as they both left Cuba as children. This is a lot of ground to cover, and the story is a great one, but it felt as though it only skimmed the surface. I'm sure the story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan would not only make a great musical but also a great mini series, to go deeper into the stories.
The cast of the show is fantastic and full of energy. Christine Prades plays Gloria Estefan, she has a great voice and portrays the conflict that Gloria felt between her music career and familial expectations extremely well. She also had great chemistry with Eddie Noel who played Emilio, who did a fantastic job portraying Emilio's belief in Gloria and his drive for success. Nancy Ticotin as Gloria's mother, Gloria Fajardo, was another stand out for me in possibly my favorite number Mi Tierro. Alma Cuervo as Gloria's abuela was also a joy to watch and you could feel the whole audience smiling when she was on stage.
I couldn't finish my review of On Your Feet! without mentioning the absolutely amazing choreography by Sergio Trujillo. It spanned different latin styles, Cha cha, Salsa, and a sort of tap dancing that was fascinating to watch that I had never seen before.
On Your Feet is playing at the Orpheum Theater until this Sunday, January 27th. It is a great show to see if you are a fan of Gloria Estefan's music or are looking for a way to warm up in this frigid weather. Click here for more information about the show and how to get tickets.
*Photo by Matthew Murphy