On Your Feet! is a musical written by Alexander Dinelaris and directed by Jerry Mitchell. It is based on the lives of husband and wife music team, Gloria and Emilio Estefan. The musical was first shown in Chicago for one month before premiering on Broadway three months later in October 2015. It is a story, as described by Gloria Estefan herself, based on “…hope, determination and the belief that, with hard work and passion, our dreams can become our reality”.
The story begins in Little Havana (a neighbourhood of Miami, Florida) where Gloria Garcia meets Emilio Estefan, the leader of the Miami Latin Boys (which was the first incarnation of the Miami Sound Machine). The plot progresses with a blossoming and fruitful romance, numerous attempts to get backing from record labels for their Cuban-fusion music, a career-defining breakthrough with ‘Conga’, strained familial relations, a horrific accident which left Gloria critically injured, and ends with her triumphant return to stage at the 1991 American Music Awards.
Gloria Estefan was played by Ana Villafañe (Magic City Memoirs (TV), Hiding (TV)), who reprised her role from the musical’s original one-month run in Chicago in this her Broadway debut. Villafañe was sensational as the world icon, perfectly portraying the emotions of the numerous twists and turns of the plot. Her performance of ‘Famous’ was a particularly moving and tender moment of the show.
Ektor Rivera (Rent, Hairspray, Godspell) also made his Broadway debut as Emilio Estefan. Rivera was amazing in the role, playing Emilio with an irresistibly cute, cheeky-chappy quality. His performance of ‘Don’t Wanna Lose You’ was very passionate as Emilio tried to help his wife rebound and rehabilitate after her accident.
There are numerous highlights to the show, including ‘1, 2, 3’, ‘The Rhythm Is Going To Get You’, ‘Conga’, ‘Coming Out Of The Dark’ and ‘If I Never Got To Tell You’ (which is original to the show, with lyrics by Gloria Estefan and music by Emily Estefan, Gloria and Emilio’s daughter).
Overall, On Your Feet! is an outstanding, energetic show with a fabulous, flamboyant carnival vibe throughout, an amazing mix of music and a talented cast. It creates a wonderful party atmosphere and gets everyone on their feet! We’d love to see this Broadway hit transfer to the West End!