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On Your Feet! hits Main Street at Engeman Theater

As a child of the 1980s, I have vivid memories of my mother playing Gloria Estefan on the living room stereo. She’d turn off the lights, so our neighbors couldn’t see her dancing through the large open windows, and turn up the volume. My mom, sister and I would dance to Gloria’s hits: “Conga,” “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” “1-2-3,” and “Get On Your Feet.”

Walking into the Engeman Theater last Friday night, I didn’t realize how nostalgic the performance would be for me – the happy, youthful memories it would stir up. On Your Feet! is a musical that tells the true story of the husband-and-wife team of Gloria and Emilio Estefan. It’s an uplifting, inspiring and honest chronicle of events that will hit home for anyone who remembers hearing their music on the radio or, like me, in their homes among laughter and unabashed attempts at salsa dancing.

Gloria and Emilio came to America from Cuba and together broke through all barriers within the entertainment industry to become a crossover sensation at the very top of the pop music world. From performing at weddings to booking world tours, the couple produced hit after hit and their music still resonates today.

Like any good story, the musical takes you through the ups and downs of their upbringing and career, with obstacles along the way that feel impossible to overcome, as well as admirable resilience.

In her show notes, Director Dana Iannuzzi wrote, “The story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan truly embodies the spirit of the American Dream. People who saw the future knew what it could look like if they worked hard and fought like hell to make it happen.”

Alexis Semevolos-Velasquez plays Gloria Estefan; she has a powerful voice and benevolent, loving presence. Her chemistry with Victor Souffrant, who plays Emilio Estefan, is palpable. The actors perfectly display the bond between the power couple, married since 1978 and the recipients of 26 Grammy Awards together. The love and dedication between the real-life Estefans is portrayed beautifully in the musical, with moments of laughter, awkward encounters and pure dedication.

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