â€œShake Your Body Baby, Do the Congaâ€: A Review of “On Your Feet!”: The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musicalï»¿
Posted On March 20, 2019
Review by Alan Jozwiak of On Your Feet!: Broadway in Cincinnati
The song lyric quoted in the title of this review comes from â€œConga,â€ one of the megahits by Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine.Â It also describes the high energy feel to On Your Feet!, the latest show at the Aronoff Center for the Arts sponsored by Fifth-Third Bank Broadway in Cincinnati presented by Tri-Health.Â
On Your Feet! recounts the early career of Gloria Estefan from her early days
singing for her family to her joining the Miami Latin Boys to the early
successes with the newly christened Miami Sound Machine. Act II deals with Estafan becomes a
superstar, her first World Tour, and the tragic bus accident which interrupted
the trajectory of her career.
This is a high
energy show full of all of Gloria Estefanâ€™s greatest songs. At its heart, it is
a love story between Gloria, played by Christine Prades, and Emilio Estefan,
played by Eddie Noel. Prades is a
powerhouse singer and performer. She
channels Gloria Estefan and is dynamic onstage.
She is a triple threat, being able to act, sing, and dance equally
well. She has a touching solo with Eddie
Noel that is as poweful as her renditions of â€œCongaâ€ and â€œTurn the Beat
As Emilio Estefan,
the driving force behind the success of the Miami Sound Machine, Noel has a
charismatic bearing as he guided Gloria through the different stages of his
career. While he has a fine voice and
can reach the high notes, there were a few places where that power did not
shine forth as it should.
characters were particularly strong. As Gloriaâ€™s mother, Nancy Ticotin
delivered a strong performance both vocally and acting. She has her own number â€œMi Terraâ€ in the
middle of Act I that was particularly strong.
Ticotin was also able to deliver a wide range of emotions in dealing
with her daughter Gloria.
Also strong was
Gloriaâ€™s grandmother Consuelo, played brilliantly by Debra Cardona. Cardona provides the comic relief throughout
the play. She acts as a guide to both
Gloria and her mother. Cardona became a delightful character who offers sage
advice and emotional support when needed.
The rest of the cast does an outstanding job to support the leads and this cast is particularly well adept in dancing.Â Apart from the stunning choregraphy (there is one number where the cast does a sort of tap dance with wooden sandals), there is one cast member that deserves great praise: Jeanpaul Medina Solano, who plays the Estefan’s son Nayib, is an oustanding tap dancer.Â Every time he would come out to perform, Medina Solano received great applause.
Also noteworthy are the musicians who make up the orchestra which plays all the music.Â Oftentimes, the orchestra gets ignored in Broadway musical productions.Â However, they were a necessary and integral part of the action of the play.
One problem with the show is that when songs would be sung in Spanish, there was no attempt at translation, which would have helped this reviewer since I don’t understand the language.Â Also, the show glosses over important life events (like the birth of Gloriaâ€™s son and the death of grandmother Consuelo) that would be nice to have discussed, at least in passing.Â Even Gloria Estefanâ€™s recovery from her accident is shortened to a single scene and this seems to undercut the central drama of her story.
quibbles, On Your Feet! is a show that is fun to watch and explores the
life of one of the great singers of the 20th century. It runs one week, March 19 to March 24. For those who want to dance in your seat,
this is the show for you. For ticket
information, visit the Cincinnati Arts Association website at https://www.cincinnatiarts.org/.