From Broadway, all across America and heading for London’s West End the smash hit musical “On Your Feet” has arrived at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood and what a magnificent show it is. Opening with a spectacular light show and soul grabbing music the audience enjoys meeting the young Cuban immigrant Gloria Fajardo Garcia with amazing song writing and vocal skills. Then she meets a very handsome somewhat older man with a band. The man is Emilio Estefan and his band is called the Miami Latin Boys. There is an instant attraction and Emilio invites Gloria to visit his band during an upcoming rehearsal. There is instant magic and it doesn’t take long before that the Miami Latin Boys name just won’t cut it anymore and soon the Miami Sound Machine is born.
As this is all played out the audience is treated to nonstop great Estefan music. Anything for You, Coming Out of the Dark, Con los Anos Que Me Quedan, and one super hit you simply cannot sit still for, Conga. Oh yes and there is more, much more.
It is the story of the love and life of Gloria and Emilio Estefan and each and every glorious moment is beautifully presented in a way that is unforgettable. Of course there are disappointments because it is life, real life with the added element of an immigrant perspective making it all that more compelling amidst the current events in our nation. There is one scene that totally rocked the audience. Gloria and Emilio go to New York City to meet with the manager of their record label. Their goal is to expand beyond the Spanish language market to the broader English language market. They have the songs and the talent but the manager refuses to accept their proposal because they are, after all, not exactly “American.” A very outraged Emilio gets right up into the managers face and says: “…this is my home and you should look very closely at my face because whether you know it or not this is what an American looks like.” The audience exploded in applause and cheers.
Throughout the show we see the incredible positive energy of Gloria and Emilio Estefan and a never wavering abundance of love. While a lot of people may well have simply accepted the record labels rejection and crawled away, not the Estefans. They got down in the trenches and built the Miami Sound Machine into a multi Grammy award winning mega success blessing the world with a massive list of unforgettable music.
But yes, of course, it is also an exposition of how immigrants remain often the focus of hostility in America with comments like “go home” and other insults still far too common. When you think about it such an attitude is truly bizarre because every single American alive today came from immigrant roots. Yet there is no denying that there indeed does remain some extra challenges to contemporary immigrants in America.
What makes this show so compelling beyond the steady flow of heart grabbing music is the pure positive energy and nonstop commitment to success and love shown by Gloria and Emilio Estefan meeting and conquering every set back and challenge. Before your eyes and ears is a message of passion, commitment and love all too rare in our world. Delivering this story requires extraordinary talent and that is provided superbly by Mauricio Martinez as Emilio and Christie Prades as Gloria and every other cast member under the direction of Jerry Mitchell and choreography of Sergio Trujillo. But I did have one thought about what it must have been like for Mauricio Martinez and Christie Prades to do their job while seeing Gloria Estefan and Emilio Estafan sitting right there watching it all unfold, Unnerving? Could be, but it is a true masterpiece of entertainment so my super kudos to all.
There is not one moment that is anything short of totally entertaining. On a very personal note very early in the show there is scene where Gloria’s dad is in the American Military serving in Vietnam. There year was 1966 and I remember it well because I too was in the Marine Corps in Vietnam in 1966 so in some strange esoteric way I had an immediate connection I was not expecting. What you can expect however is about two hours or so of great entertainment that will stay with you forever.
The show runs now through July 29th at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, so do no miss out on this exceptional and beautiful show. Just click here hollywoodpantages website for show dates and times and purchase tickets. Then prepare yourself for some of the very best entertainment in the world today.
Photo credit: Matthew Murphy
For more entertainment check out: ronirwin website