Entertainment » Theatre

On Your Feet

by Will Demers
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Feb 2, 2018
Mauricio Martinez and Christie Prades in "On Your Feet." (photo: Matthew Murphy)
Mauricio Martinez and Christie Prades in "On Your Feet." (photo: Matthew Murphy)  

Listening to music gives pleasure to many; it's the soundtrack of our own lives. But the process of making music is never easy, or fluid. It takes time, money and lots of chances. Especially when you're trying to bring a new sound to a world that isn't ready to hear it. And if you're a woman, no matter how talented, there are barriers to be broken.

"On Your Feet! The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical" chronicles the life of one gutsy gal, and one very charming man, on their way to superstardom. Gloria Fajardo (Amaris Sanchez as the younger, Christie Prades as the adult) loved to sing to her father and family in Miami. Along with her sister Rebecca (Claudia Yanez,) Mother (Nancy Ticotin,) and Grandmother Consuelo (Alma Cuervo,) they are braving life's difficulties dealing with their ailing patriarch Jose (Jason Martinez).

Consuelo is the one to push young Gloria toward a musical career; sending her to audition with the Miami Latin Boys, headed by Emilio Estefan (Mauricio Martinez) a dreamy man who talent as a musician is quite evident. Gloria is a shy girl at first, not wishing to show off her talent but as time goes by, and she sings one of her original songs to the boys, her talent becomes evident to Emilio. But this is just the beginning, and this is standard jukebox musical theatre on the surface, but here it's the sweet retelling that sparks the magic.

Following a two-year stint on Broadway, last fall saw the kickoff of this national tour in Miami. Featuring several of the original cast members, this polished production starts off with a bang and never lets up. The band is absolutely electric, the dance numbers lively and fresh. Written by Alexander Dinelaris ("Birdman") and featuring the music of Gloria and Emilio Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, the songs fit the story like a glove, and includes one new number written for the show, "If I Never Got To Tell You" a sentimental ballad.

The cast is extremely well chosen, exhibiting some talent of their own. Supporting players Sanchez as little Gloria and Jordan Vergara who plays Nayib, Jeremy and young Emilio both shine. Ticotin as Gloria's mother delivers a powerhouse performance; when she reminisces about a missed musical career of her own, she struts her stuff to our delight. Jason Martinez has a grand singing voice; in flashback, we see his love for his children and family. Cuervo, who originated her role on Broadway, is delightful. The ensemble is filled with shining stars as well.

Both Mauricio Martinez and Christie Prades have exceptional chemistry between them. When Martinez struts up to Gloria for the first time, we're all hooked, and his accent is intoxicating. Prades plays Gloria with the right amount of fire and sweetness, and her voice is strong and echoes Gloria Estefan's enthusiasm. Never stalling, the second act can be quite emotional as the show explores some of the tragedies that shook the Estefan family, and when Gloria faces her own mortality "Wrapped" emotions are high, but never cloying. Stylish, vibrant, and filled with imaginative choreography, this show with literally have you "On Your Feet!" with no intention of sitting down.

"On Your Feet! The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical" is running through February 4th at The Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) 220 Weybosset Street, Providence, RI 02903. For information or tickets, call 401-421-2997 or visit www.ppacri.org.


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