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Center Stage: ‘On Your Feet’ at Broadway Palm will have you on your feet

By MARSHA WAGNER - | Mar 2, 2021

PHOTO PROVIDED Marsha Wagner

Do you all need a jolt for chasing the blues away? Well, if your answer is a resounding yes, then the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre has the perfect show for curing that predicament. That show’s name is “On Your Feet,” a hot jukebox Broadway musical about Gloria (played perfectly by exciting Alexis Sermevolos-Velazquez) and Emilio Estefan (brilliantly performed by Alex Rodriquez). “On Your Feet” is the true-life story of the couple’s voyage from tragedy to triumph. The show is a neat combination of heart and heat, based on the most successful Cuban-American singer-songwriter of all time — Gloria Estefan, along with her entrepreneurial success-driven husband. These two musical greats proved that Spanish guitars, married to the Afro-Cuban rhythms from this couple’s homeland Cuba, could be fused with American Pop to become “top of the charts, global hits.”

Let me tell you, Right On! says it perfectly. Especially, after seeing and hearing this music driven show, getting almost every audience member either “on their feet” or at least “wriggling in their seat.”

The book by Alexander Dinelaris may only skim Gloria and Emilio’s lives but what rich music-driven lives they both lived. The show’s opening production number gave the audience their first clue of what they were in for by blasting off with the tune “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You.” This musical number was set in Washington, D.C., in 1990. The show then progresses on by flashing back to Miami in the year 1966, when this musical begins.

A shy, but talented, 17-year-old Gloria (fetchingly played by young Hannah Cruz) meets the dashing, career-driven Emilio. This part of the show then segues to Gloria’s early life, which establishes her devotion to her father, along with the touchy relationship with her mother (Josephine Phoenix), added to the warm encouragement of her grandmother Consuelo (Adela Romero), who urges young Gloria to live the American dream and go for the gold. All this becomes a real possibility as soon as she meets her mentor and future husband, dashing and hardworking Emilio. After auditioning for Emilio and his band (the Miami Sound Machine), she becomes not only their lead singer, but also their prime songwriter. The only hint of future conflict is Emilio’s driving ambition, which pushes him to overtax and overwork everybody, especially Gloria.

Hard work is exactly what it takes to achieve the American dream, and this story is energetically and wonderfully told thanks to the fast paced direction of Eliseo Roman, which was based on the original direction of Jerry Mitchell. Add to the success of this Broadway Palm production the outstanding, searing hot choreography by Natalie Caruncho, which is based on the original choreography by Sergio Trujillo. Let me state here and now that both the direction and choreography more than achieved the energetic drive of the original, which is so essential to the telling of this musical success story. Another important piece for “hitting the mark” in this amazing exuberant production is the excellent ensemble cast — most of whom are new to the area, having never before performed at the Palm. Nevertheless, their energy and talent successfully built this show to standing ovations and the full flowering of making “On Your Feet” and audience delight.

This musical retelling of the Estefan’s songbook not only achieved the first-ever, Afro-Cuban-American rock musical fusion, as well as a gold record, but went on to launch this couple into realizing international fame and recognition. “On Your Feet” is not only a hot musical retelling of achieving the American dream; it is also the perfect formula for picking up our present-day spirits, caused by the pandemic, as well as the divisiveness in our United States today. This is a musical story about attaining the American dream by way of Cuba and its music. What a great way to spend an evening. In other words, if you are ready to have some fun safely in a socially-distanced theater, then “On Your Feet” is the show for you, playing from now till April 10.

So, here is my suggestion to ya’ll! Prepare for a fun evening out and picking up sagging, pandemic-driven spirits by:

– Calling the Broadway Palm Box Office at 239-278-4422.

– Making a reservation.

– Getting into some bright clothes.

– Slipping on comfortable dancing shoes.

– Getting your hips warmed up to shake.

Do all that and I practically guarantee you that before the evening at the Broadway Palm ends after seeing “On Your Feet,” you will be on your feet dancing the Conga along with the rest us. Oh, one last thing, remind ’em when you phone the box office that Marsha sent you!