Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Review of On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called On Your Feet! The book was written by Alexander Dinelaris and the music was by Emilio and Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine. It was choreographed by Sergio Trujillo and directed by Jerry Mitchell. It was about Gloria (Ana Villafañe) and Emilio (Josh Segarra) Estefan's life, the good times and the hard times, their families and how they expressed themselves through music. This was a very fun and heartbreaking show. It had some very funny moments but it was also bittersweet. I loved the music and I loved the dancing and singing too. I thought this was a very very fun show. I loved it so much and I think it most definitely should make it on Broadway!

One of the very first scenes took place in the neighborhood in Miami where Gloria grew up. The younger version of Gloria (Olivia Coronel) starting singing this song and everyone started singing along with her and this big awesome dance number started. The dancing was so crazy and everyone seemed to be so flexible! It was so fun and I loved the song and the dancing. And then suddenly when she went behind some of the people's laundry she came out as the grown-up Gloria. And it was a really cool change: the little Gloria was gone and grown-up Gloria was standing in her place wearing the same dress. I loved it! I felt like this song was a traditional song and dance so it showed how the Cuban traditions would always live on in her music.

I loved the part where Emilio first came to Gloria's house and couldn't really talk to anybody. Gloria Fajardo (Andréa Burns) is Gloria's mom and they have same name. And that confuses Emilio, and he says, "You can't be Gloria. You are too old." And grandma Consuelo (Alma Cuervo) says, "This is her mother," and he realizes the big mistake that he just made. He makes it so funny by the look on his face that is like, "Oh no! I didn't mean it!"

I thought that her audition for The Miami Latin Boys was really beautiful. I thought it was super cool how her sister Becky (Genny Lis Padilla) sang "Anything for You" with her because Gloria needed help because she was shy a lot of the time. She made a very big leap from being the shy one to being one of the most famous people on the planet! If you were watching Emilio you could see him realizing what a beautiful voice she had and he was kind of falling in love, but not as much as later. I thought that her mom was starting to get slightly scared that Gloria would grow up too fast. I think her mom wants her daughter to be happy, but she is doing the same thing to Gloria as her own dad did to her when he told her that she couldn't be the Spanish-speaking Shirley Temple. Her mom was very talented, as you see when she sings in the night club in a flashback, but she wasn't allowed to show it. Gloria's abuelita Consuelo was very supportive of her granddaughter. I thought the grandmother was really sweet and nice and she was also very funny. She reminded me of my grandmother because she is also very supportive. In this scene you find out how much her grandmother supports her and is ok with her hanging out with a bunch of boys, but her mother is not. And I thought the song was really beautiful, and I liked that she got the idea from her grandmother.

After Gloria joins the group they change their name to Miami Sound Machine because now there is a girl in there. I guess they could have been The Miami Latin Humans, but that isn't as cool as Miami Sound Machine, which makes them sound like awesome robots--robots of pop! They are very successful in the Latin department but no one thinks that they can cross over to be pop stars. Then they write this song called "Conga" and they take it to like a Bar Mitzvah, and Italian wedding, and then they finally go to Vegas. The little boy who played the person who was having his bar mitzvah (Felix Monge) was a great dancer--I mean he was unbelievable! In the Italian wedding they were wearing these long bridesmaids dresses and then when they went to Vegas they ripped the skirts off and threw them off stage and then they started dancing really vigorously! I loved the part where Gloria was singing "Conga" and then she started a big Conga line where she would invite people from the audience to join the conga line with her. I thought it was so cool!

There is a scene that happens in the hospital that is so sweet and made everybody in the audience that has parents (which everyone does) want to cry. And if you are a parent it probably hurts even more! What happens in the scene is that the mother sings about how she doesn't want to lose her daughter and then she makes up with Emilio and she says "I'm sorry I yelled at you all these times," because she didn't like him that much even after they got married. But now she sees how much he loves Gloria. I liked how the mother and Emilio sing the song together. That shows you that they have made up and everything is alright between them. And it shows you they both have something in common: they both love Gloria. Then also, when Gloria is going into surgery, they have a dance where they bring back all the people she loves who have died and also her younger self, even though she hasn't died. I thought that dance was very beautiful and it was very touching because you got to see all the people that she missed.

People who would like this show are people who like Miami Sound Machine, festive dances, and bar mitzvah conga lines. I think people should definitely definitely go see this show. It is so fun and hilarious and bittersweet. I just loved it so much.

Photos: Matthew Murphy

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