The cure for this week’s winter blues has arrived in the form of the wonderfully feel-good regional premiere of 2015’s “On Your Feet! The Emilio and Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical,” continuing at the Schuster Center through Sunday, March 10, as part of the Victoria Theatre Association’s Premier Health Broadway Series.
Energetic, poignant and uplifting, “On Your Feet!” features over 25 songs from Gloria’s signature repertoire as lead singer of the Miami Sound Machine and as a solo artist. As the musical chronicles Emilio and Gloria’s rise from humble beginnings in Miami to the top of the pop charts, the duo’s career/relationship becomes a testament to the power of commitment, determination, faith, family, music, and the pursuit of the American Dream.
Here are five reasons why you should see this entertaining show, which will often make you feel you’re seeing Gloria in concert.
AN INSPIRING LEGACY
As the daughter of a talented singer/actress and a supportive father who developed multiple sclerosis following his service in Vietnam, Gloria craved music as a child, performing for her community with guitar in hand. Her gifts as a singer/songwriter blossomed with guidance from Emilio, who invited her to join his band (The Miami Latin Boys) and whom she married in 1978. As the show evolves, Academy Award-winning librettist Alexander Dinelaris (“Birdman”) effectively pinpoints the struggles the Cuban-American couple faced professionally (racism within the music industry) and personally (Gloria’s near-fatal 1990 tour bus accident and aspects of her grueling recovery which tested their marriage). Adversity never stopped the couple from achieving, which is certainly an inspiring legacy considering both received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. Gloria also became the first Cuban-American to receive the Kennedy Center Honors in 2017.
A TERRIFIC CAST
Christie Prades (attractively clothed in numerous outfits replicated from Estefan’s career by costumer Emilio Sosa of “Project Runway” fame) is a delightful Gloria, capturing her spirit and vocal tone with appealing finesse especially in the pretty ballads “Anything for You” and “Here We Are.” Prades notably covered the role of Gloria in the original Broadway cast so her natural confidence and charisma is a huge asset. Handsome Eddie Noel, a great dancer, is equally excellent as devoted, humorous Emilio. Also noteworthy among a fine ensemble are Nancy Ticotin as Gloria’s strict mother (her fiery rendition of “Mi Tierra” is an Act 1 highlight), Debra Cardona as Gloria’s playful grandmother, and Jose Rosario, Jr. as Gloria’s father (offering a gently soothing delivery of “When Someone Comes Into Your Life,” which joins the list of Estefan’s most gorgeous compositions).
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A CULTURAL CONNECTION
Director Jerry Mitchell (“Kinky Boots”) and Tony-nominated choreographer Sergio Trujillo (the upcoming, fantastic “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations”) fill the show with a marvelous Latin vibe, providing a lively cultural connection that allows audiences to better feel and understand how Emilio and Gloria’s roots influenced their work. Songs such as “Cuando Salí de Cuba,” “Cuba Libre” and “Oye Mi Canto” are a portal into a world that may be unfamiliar to most but are strong examples of the beauty, fire and spirit of Latin heritage.
Gloria has sold over 115 million records worldwide and all her greatest hits are here including “1-2-3,” “Conga,” “Coming Out of the Dark,” “Don’t Wanna Lose You,” “Get On Your Feet,” “Live for Loving You,” “Reach,” and “Rhythm is Gonna Get You” among others.
Added bonus: the musical director leading an outstanding on stage band is Clay Ostwald, original member of Miami Sound Machine. Without question, this show signifies the timelessness of Gloria’s music.
DO THE CONGA!
“On Your Feet!” is the kind of show that makes you want to get up and move. Case in point: “Conga,” the infectious Act 1 finale that will send you into intermission with a big smile, especially after seeing youngster Jeanpaul Medina Solano salsa like there’s no tomorrow. Don’t hesitate to join him and the entire company dancing in the aisles to one of the most iconic pop tunes ever written.
Reach this contributing writer at firstname.lastname@example.org
WANT TO GO?
What: “On Your Feet!: The Emilio and Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical”
Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton
When: Through March 10; 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: Call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or visit ticketcenterstage.com