The fairytale musical of the lives of Emilio and Gloria Estefan returns to Chicago. ON YOUR FEET is a wild, foot stomping time from beginning to end. From childhood to stardom, and tragedy to triumph, it’s a touching story that’s both entertaining and inspiring, filled with chart-topping hits from the 1970s and 1980s.
The bright lights flash and the curtain rises as the orchestra, featuring members of the Miami Sound Machine, rocks a Latin beat, led by Music Director and keyboardist Clay Ostwald. No, the curtain doesn’t rise, it explodes! This just has to be seen. Then it all begins with Gloria as a starry-eyed child (Amaris Sanchez) who dreams of being a singer while her mother (Nancy Ticotin), robbed of her own dreams of stardom, is not too happy about it. Later, an older Gloria (Christie Prades) is introduced to Emilio Estefan (Mauricio Martinez), leader of the up and coming group The Miami Latin Boys. He is impressed with Gloria and with the encouragement of her grandmother, Consuelo (Debra Cardona) she becomes part of the group, which is later renamed Miami Sound Machine. Eventually Gloria and Emilio fall in love and marry.
Music and relevance comes to Broadway In Chicago
The story continues with the Estefans and The Miami Sound Machine growing in popularity among the local Latino crowd, but Emilio has bigger plans and wants to cross over to a larger audience.
In one scene, Emilio is trying to convince Phil (Devon Goffman) a record label executive, to produce a new song, sung in English. Phil resists, insisting that Estefan and his group’s Spanish language tunes are already big money-makers and that they should continue with that success. Besides, he says, such a crossover record would never work because Americans would never go for it.
Emilio indignantly responds to Phil’s racist opinion pointing at his own face and exclaiming, “this is what America looks like!” Emilio proves Phil wrong with a grass roots plan that leads to the song becoming a big hit anyway. Later, when The Miami Sound Machine achieves worldwide recognition after a world tour, even Phil is convinced that they can crossover in the United States, but other music executives continue to resist, suggesting that whites in America just wouldn’t go for it. Emilio convinces them of the music’s universal appeal by recalling their successful appearance in Sweden, where he could “not imagine whiter people,” saying it was like watching a bunch of Q-tips bouncing up and down in the audience.
Stealing the show is Debra Cardona as Gloria’s feisty abuela, or grandma. Always on Gloria’s side, she is the driving force that helps Gloria make all of the right decisions. Another show stealer is Kevin Tellez, an ensemble member who played three roles, including young Emilio, who dances his heart out in several scenes.
The entire production is filled with hot Latin music and dancing (how can they spin around so much and so fast without getting dizzy?) and audience participation. At the end of the first act, the ensemble steps off the stage and dances in the aisles with audience members. At the end of the show, everyone was indeed on their feet as the cast members danced and sang, and the orchestra jammed. This is a wonderful show that is not to be missed.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago
Cast of ON YOUR FEET
Gloria Christie Prades
Emilio Mauricio Martínez
Gloria Fajardo Nancy Ticotin
Consuelo Debra Cardona
José Fajardo Jason Martinez
Little Gloria Amaris Sanchez
Nayib/Young Emilio/Jeremy Kevin Tellez
Thru March 23 – April 8, 2018
Fridays – 7:30PM
Saturdays – 2:00PM and 8:00PM
Sunday March 25 2:00PM and 7:30PM
Sunday April 1 2:00PM
Sunday April 8 2:00PM
Tuesdays – 7:30PM
Wednesdays - 2:00PM and 7:30PM
Thursday – 7:30PM
Cadillac Palace Theatre
151 Randolph Street
Tickets are available for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710.
Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000 and online at the Broadway in Chicago website.
All photos courtesy of Broadway in Chicago
Steve Bellinger was born and raised on the West Side of Chicago by a single mom who worked nights for a printing company. She would bring home books and magazines to encourage her kids to read. This is how he discovered Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke and the other masters of classic science fiction. It didn’t take long for him to get the itch to write. Over the years he’s written everything from newspaper articles, comic strips and radio drama to short stories and fan fiction. He is the author of the science fiction time travel novel The Chronocar. His second novel, Edge of Perception, is due to be released in 2018.
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