In a feat of astonishing ambition and virtuosity, D.C.s GALA Hispanic Theatre, one of the nation’s top Spanish language cultural centers, has managed to produce a complex, difficult, popular Broadway musical in Spanish, most appropriately about the life of diva and Cuban icon Gloria Estefan. “On Your Feet’ is a tour de force! GALA Theatre has used every possible resource within its reach to provide for a first rate, top of the line, exciting song and dance show with live musicians, exquisite voices and a dance ensemble made for Radio City Music Hall. All told, it is a production of extraordinary breadth and sophistication.
Directed and choreographed by Luis Salgado, this is an outstanding piece of musical theatre. The entire cast, starting with Gaby Albo who plays Gloria (made famous on Broadway by Ana Villafañe), are young, hungry and talented. The pace is staccato, the dancers sharp and dynamic and the live orchestra provides further swing and sonority to the show. It is indeed a show, a sexy, swinging musical – West Side Story meet Miami Beach!
It is, of course, the life story of legendary singing star Gloria Estefan & husband Emilio recounting how it all began. The musical spent more than 3 years on Broadway and this, curiously enough, is the world premiere in Spanish (although feels like it was written originally in that language).
Samuel Garnica brilliantly performs the role of Emilio. Scenes recount the moments where the Cuban born impresario had to work out the prejudices and obstacles to the vaunted ‘crossover’ success of the Miami Sound Machine and even one scene in which he proudly defends his Cuban heritage to an insensitive and racist record company executive.
Both Ms. Albo and Mr, Garnica perform moving tunes that engage the audience and Gaby’s interpretation of Estefan’s famous numbers are as good as it gets. The supporting cast is equally special and the whole ensemble involves the audience in a way that makes for joyous interactions. Two adorable pre-teens (Winsley De Jesus & Kamila Rodriguez) sing and dance as part of the show. A musical that appeals to the entire family. So take the family out to the theatre and enjoy a festive and exhilarating experience.
“On Your Feet” is a fitting finale to the 46th season of this remarkable theatrical organization, a tribute to a lifetime of artistic achievement for Hugo & Rebecca Medrano who have dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to this priceless cultural jewel.
The musical runs through June 5th, and is worth viewing. You will feel like dancing and singing and it will leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Make every attempt to check it out. Go to their website www.galatheatre.org for information and tickets.