On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan Review - Broadway with a Hot Latin Beat


What does it take for a musical to please Broadway audiences these days? Great singing and dancing, wonderful actors, a powerful story and memorable songs!


Ektor Rivera and Ana Villafañe as Emilio & Gloria Estefan


On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan at the Marquis Theatre is a show that delivers it all.


The cast of ON YOUR FEET!


I must admit I’m a sucker for true stories and this is one that takes us through all kinds of highs and lows. Gloria (Ana Villafañe) didn’t have an easy childhood. Her family escaped Cuba and fled to the United States, settling in Miami. 


Andréa Burns & Eliseo Roman as Jose & Gloria Fajardo


Her father, Jose Fajardo (Eliseo Roman), fought in the Vietnam War and when he returned to the states, he became ill.  Gloria helped her mother, Gloria Fajardo (Andrea Burns), take care of him.  


Ana Villafañe as Gloria Esteffan


Although she loved singing and writing songs, her mother was unsupportive of her talent – and it was actually her grandmother Consuelo (Alma Cuervo) who encouraged Gloria and even arranged for her to meet Emilio Estefan (Ektor Revera), Band Leader of the Miami Latin Boys.



Ektor Rivera, Alma Cuervo and Andrea Burns in ON YOUR FEET!


Emilio shaped Gloria to be a star, putting her in the group and changing its name to Miami Sound Machine.  Along the way, the two fell in love and got married.  But it still wasn’t an easy road.  As Latin performers, they had to convince their manager they could crossover. Fortunately, Emilio wasn’t just a talented musician and singer, he was a shrewd businessman who knew what he wanted and how to get it.


Omar Lopez Cepero, Ektor Rivera, and Lee Zarrett in ON YOUR FEET!


One of the most fun sequences in the show is when they are trying to broaden their audience and perform their song “Conga” at a Wedding, a Shriner’s Convention, and a Bar Mitzvah. Eduardo Hernandez as the dancing Bar Mitzvah boy brings down the house. He also plays Little Emilio and Gloria & Emilio’s son, Nayib.


Eduardo Hernandez and cast of ON YOUR FEET!


Ana Villafañe was simply “the” perfect choice to play Gloria. She looks and sounds uncannily like the super pop star and gives an ebullient and fiery performance. Ana and Ektor Revera have great chemistry and believability on stage and together keep the energy pumping and bumping through every song. And what songs they are!  



Ana Villafañe as Gloria Estefan in ON YOUR FEET!


They include the smash hits, “1-2-3,” “Anything for You,” “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” “Everlasting Love,” “Get On Your Feet,” “Don’t Want To Lose You,” and “Turn the Beat Around.”


Linedy Genao, Ana Villafane & Jennifer Sanchez in ON YOUR FEET!


As a so-called jukebox musical, On Your Feet! features songs we’ve heard many times before – but seeing them performed onstage with amazing singers and dancers brings them alive in a whole new way. On Your Feet! makes you want to dance-in-your-seat… and many of the audience members were doing just that!


The Cast of ON YOUR FEET!


Every number was a knockout. And watching the story of the couple who brought them to us was engaging, heartwarming and uplifting. In today’s world, with so many stars and celebrities behaving badly, or going through frequent marriages and divorces... its gratifying to follow the story of a couple that met, attained overwhelming success, and stayed together. Emilio was supportive of Gloria from the beginning, and his encouragement and love for her never wavered.


Ektor Rivera & Ana Villafañe as Emilio & Gloria Estefan



The show has a pedigreed production team. Music & lyrics are by Emilio & Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine with a book by Alexander Dinelaris, who wrote the Academy Award winning movie, Birdman. It was directed by Jerry Mitchell, who won a Tony for choreographing the Tony Award-winning Musical, Kinky Boots. Sergio Trujillo, a Tony Award nominee for his choreography in On Your Feet! was the recipient of the 2015 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreography. He also choreographed Memphis and Jersey Boys.



Ana Villafañe and cast of ON YOUR FEET!


In summary, On Your Feet! is actually several stories in one: a love story; an immigration story; a family story; and a show business story about the American dream. Overall, it’s simply great family entertainment.


Photos (c) Matthew Murphy


On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan

Marquis Theatre

46th Street between Broadway & 8th Avenue

New York, New York 10036


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