“On Your Feet” is a truly all-American story.

I heard of this musical the day I was asked to review it.  I had no idea what I was in for.  Although I know who Gloria Estefan is, being a child of the 80’s, the majority of what I knew was that the Miami Sound Machine existed and that she survived a brutal tour bus accident in 1990.  To say I was skeptical about how this would all play out was an understatement, but I was not about to miss out on a trip to the theater, especially in the dead of Minnesota winter.

From the get go, I enjoyed this musical immensely.  Why?  One of the first numbers was based in Miami.  Miami is warm and Minneapolis was teetering on the single digits with a vicious wind the evening of the show.  Anything that will make an audience forget about that is a plus.  The colors and upbeat Latino sound was incredible.  It was just fun.  The last few musicals I have seen have been darker in nature, or just plain not good, so this was a real treat.

There is a slight irony behind the actual creation of this musical, in that it seems to be living out the message that the play itself is sending.  Emilio and Gloria Estefan worked incredibly hard to get where they are.  I’m not talking about just that making it into the music industry hard, either.  I’m talking about the addition of “Latinos can’t cross over into the mainstream market because no one will listen to you” that would make a lot of people just give up.  Neither of them did.  They did things that a lot of people didn’t think possible and created succeeded in a market a lot of people told them they couldn’t even break into.  So why not create a musical about that life? I imagine they faced a lot of the same hurdles when they proposed this idea, but guess what?  It is now a touring show and is amazing.

In that respect, the musical is really about the American dream and if you work hard enough, you can achieve it.  It also shows the side of it that includes sacrifice and that you really have to work and struggle to achieve your dream.  It’s not something out there that is just waiting to be swooped up; you have to work very hard for it.  There’s a conversation between the two in the musical where Gloria wonders what they are leaving behind when they tour, moving from city to city.  Emilio reminds her that what they are leaving behind are all wonderful experiences that they would in no way have if they weren’t working so hard.  It’s that whole thing about always wanting what you don’t have and really appreciating every moment in life.

On a more technical side, the acting was spot on.  Christie Prades, as Gloria, did a damn good job at making you really feel Gloria Estefan’s life – the sacrifices she made for her family at a young age, the passion for music, and the struggle to balance the two.  Eddie Noel played Emilio and you really felt the same desire from him.  The two worked so well together, balancing both drama and comedy.  If there was anything that I found was better than the acting, it was the musical numbers.  The dancing was incredible.  I’m a huge fan of choreographed movements and I was going crazy watching them. It was so much fun – I simply can’t say that enough.

In conclusion, “On Your Feet” is honestly just such a good time.  It’s very uplifting and the fact that it’s a true story makes it so much more moving at times.  I would highly recommend that anyone go see it.

Now running through January 27th at The Orpheum Theater.

For more info click here.

Review by Tracy Hansen