by Marialena Rago
Spring has sprung at the Academy of Music with On Your Feet, the musical created by and based on the life and career of Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio. Together they built an international music empire and have won over 20 Grammy Awards. This musical will have you dancing in your seat, literally, with the catchy Cuban-fusion pop songs that made Estefan famous like “Conga”, “The Rhythm is Gonna Get You” and “1-2-3”.
When we meet Gloria, played by Christie Prades, she is a young psychology student who is balancing taking care of her father who suffers from MS, an overbearing mother and younger sister. She loves to write and sing music, but it isn’t until her future husband shows up (played by the charming Mauricio Martinez) that she sees a future in the industry. We see her go from a shy, rhythm less songwriter to a full-blown superstar. The most intriguing part of the musical is the love story between Emilio and Gloria; unfortunately the audience only gets one scene where they are shown just how in love these two were and still are today. It’s evident that their love and determination are driving forces behind their continued success.
The second act gets on its feet better than the first when we really see some of the trials that the Estefans had to go through; specifically, the 1990 accident that almost left her paralyzed. Here we also get music that was written just for the show. Though the new music is appreciated, Gloria Estefan has such an amazing catalog of songs that original content wasn’t needed for this overall jukebox musical.
On Your Feet left me wanting more of the Estefans’ story. Fans of Gloria and Emilio Estefan will enjoy hearing and seeing their music performed on stage and everyone will appreciate the salsa dancing and catchy tunes. Still, the story of the Estefans is so inspiring and powerful, there’s so much more to be told after the show ends.
Catch the rhythm yourself this weekend at the Academy of Music. Tickets are available here. Also be sure to check out our interview with Debra Cardona who portrays Gloria’s grandmother- a hero in this show.