The Rhythm’s Gonna Get You at Engeman Theater
On Your Feet! is a 2015 Broadway musical that follows the 26-time Grammy Award-winning husband and wife team, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, on their journey to superstardom. The musical features many of their record-breaking smash hits, including “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” “Conga,” “1.2.3,” “Get On Your Feet,” plus an original ballad written for the musical by Gloria and her daughter Emily Estefan, “If I Never Got to Tell You.”
This is one of those rare jukebox musicals where the songs fit the show because they are part and parcel of the story of Gloria and Emilio. On Your Feet takes you behind the music and inside the real story of the obstacles, prejudice, and heartbreak this dynamic duo experienced along the way. Alexander Dinelaris penned this well-crafted, well-paced show, and the music and lyrics are by Gloria and Emilio Estefan & Miami Sound Machine.
The enormously talented Sandalio Alvarez choreographed this show using an eclectic assortment of dance styles, including salsa, conga, traditional Cuban dances, modernAlexis Semevolos-Velazquez (Gloria Estefan) and Ensemble dance, as well as two-party dances: the Electric Slide and the hora.
The exquisite costumes by the gifted Cecilia X. Gutierrez were colorful and beautifully constructed. The spectacular outfits Ms. Estefan wore replicated many of the costumes she donned onstage throughout her career. This included the blue gown she wore at the American Music Awards when she gave a heartrending performance of “Coming Out of the Dark,” marking her first staged appearance after the 1990 bus accident that broke her back.
The fantastic live band conducted by the keyboardist, Erika R. Gamez, added excitement and realism to the musical. A special shout-out goes to all the talented musicians, including Ray Sabatello, Gary Meyer, Russell Brown, Jim Waddell, Brent Chiarello, Brian Lewis, and Kevin Twigg.
Alexis Semevolos-Velazquez, in the challenging role of Gloria Estefan, carries the show with her powerful pipes, strong acting ability, dynamic dance moves, and charisma. She gave a riveting performance with the upbeat hit “Live for Loving You.” Victor Souffrant was believable as Emilio Estefan. As an actor, Mr. Souffrant has a wide-emotional range and revealed Mr. Estefan’s innate psychological strength and his vulnerable side, especially when he encountered his less-than-welcoming mother-in-law. Mr. Souffrant created theatrical magic with his passionate delivery of the beautiful love song “Don’t Wanna Lose You,” as he grapples with ways to help his wife get through her terrible ordeal. Watching Gloria struggle through her arduous physical therapy session made the title of the musical, “On Your Feet,” take on a deeper meaning. The engine that fueled this show was the tremendous onstage chemistry between Ms. Semevolos-Velazquez and Mr.Souffrant. Their passionate duet during Act 1, “Here We Are,” was one of the show’s highlights.
Carol Beaugard gave a stellar performance as Consuelo, Gloria’s feisty, funny, supportive, and outspoken grandmother. Nicole Paloma Sarro was excellent as Gloria Fajardo, Ms. Estefan’s troubled, critical, often judgmental mother, who was jealous of her daughter’s musical success. One of the most moving scenes in the show occurred in Act II. Ms. Estefan and her mother had been estranged for two years, but after the bus accident, her mother came to the hospital filled with remorse and regret. Ms. Sarro gave a moving rendition of “If I Never Got to Tell You,” and a cathartic and healing moment happened between her and her son-in-law, Emilio, when he joined her in singing this melancholy song. I could hear audience members sobbing during this moving duet, and when I looked over at my husband, I saw tears streaming down his cheek, mirroring my own.
David De Almo gave an outstanding performance with his spot-on portrayal of Phil, the close-minded, stingy, and unyielding record label executive. One of the funniest moments in the show occurred during the showstopping “Conga” number, where Phil made a complete turnaround in his thinking when he realized the powerful effect Miami Sound Machine’s new music had on audiences.
Ryan Morales was brilliant as Jose Fajardo, Gloria’s father. His moving duet “Cuando Salí De Cuba” with Sofia Jarmel, as Little Gloria, opened the show on a high note. Ms. Jarmel is a rising star and gave a memorable performance as the shy, younger version of Ms. Estefan.
Gabriela Moscoso, as Gloria’s younger sister, Rebecca Fajardo, gave a heartwarming performance throughout and revealed her vocal prowess in her duet with her sister, “Anything for You.”
Luca Silva played the Estefan’s son Nayib, as well as young Emilio, Little Elvis, and Jeremy. That’s a lot of parts for a little fellow to play, but he aced them all, proving he is a true professional.
The stellar ensemble includes Mathew Bautista, Stevie Bovo, Camila Cardona, Anthony Cataldo, Sharlane Conner, Jasmine Maldonado, Susan Oliveras, Vincent Ortega, Facundo Agustin, Oscar Antonio Rodriguez, Rodolfo Santamarina, Luca Silva, and Marina Vidal.
I rarely, if ever, want to see a Broadway musical a second time, but I could see this production ten times in a row and still not have enough of it. You don’t have to be a Gloria and Emilio & Miami Sound Machine fan to love this show, but you will undoubtedly become a fan after seeing it. You will laugh. You will cry. You will dance in your seat and leave humming at least one of the songs. If I had to describe the Engeman Theater’s production of On Your Feet in one word, I would say: exhilarating!
The show runs now through August 28, 2022. To purchase tickets or for more information, contact the Box Office at (631) 286-1133 or visit the website at www.engemantheater.com