Why see it:
–The best touring talent I can imagine
-Upbeat entertainment for fans and families
-Broadway on tour, not an imitation
-Not necessary to know their music
Summary and thoughts:
The “Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical” roared into the Durham (NC) Performing Arts Center like the winter storm that booked the same week here. But this stage spectacle won’t leave you cold.
The talent of this cast is astounding. I could say “top to bottom,” but there is nothing but cream rising to the top as they sing and dance through two and a half hours.
There are two feel-good stories here: one is the drama of the Estefans from their young days through their greatest challenges; the second is the cast itself. Just as one appreciates the effort that formed the band’s musical success as Miami Sound Machine, one can marvel at the tremendously talented actors with interesting stories of their own.
Past performers from Cats are included, as well as In the Heights and other hits. Of course the Broadway On Your Feet! cast is well represented, not to mention what the playbill identifies as the “core of Miami Sound Machine” band itself. There is a Mexican actor in a lead role, Mauricio Martinez. Youngsters Carmen Sanchez and Kevin Tellez are ready to rock. A recent Cuban immigrant is Claudia Mulet, making her professional debut. Dancers sweep the stage with precision of the Joffrey Ballet School, which delivered Maria Rodriguez to this moment. Those are just some notable names, but rest assured that A-to-Z, this troupe triumphs.
If there is a weakness to this production, it would be that the staging is so greatly overshadowed by the show’s other aspects. From my seat I could see the child Gloria ducking through a hidden door that simultaneously revealed teenage Gloria.
It’s also regrettable that the Sound Machine was sequestered behind backdrops for the vast bulk of the two acts despite being physically atop the stage rather than in the orchestra pit. Happily, the band situation was mediated with an encore-like celebration scene that fittingly showcased the talent flowing from their instruments and the cast.
It’s a wonder On Your Feet! is not still running in New York City, and I wonder how it is possible to deliver such performances in city after city, day after day, week after week. It exceeded expectations and went beyond just “jukebox musical” to excel as musical theater with outstanding performers. Get a taste of show by seeing the cast pay tribute to Gloria at the Kennedy Center Honors awards ceremony of December, 2017, posted on YouTube by CBS. Then get to a theater and get On Your Feet!
Viewed January 4, 2018, Durham Performing Arts Center, NC