ON YOUR FEET!Book by Alexander Dinelaris, Featuring Music Produced & Recorded by Emilio & Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine
AT&T Performing Arts Center
Directed and Choreographed by – Luis Salgado
Music Director – Daniel Gutierrez
Scenic Design – Clifton Chadick
Costume Design – Jeannette Christensen
Lighting Design – Ryan J. O’Gara
Sound Design – Diego Garzón
Projection Design – Patrick W. Lord
Prop Design – Emmarose Campbell
Hair & Wig Design – Bobbie Zlotnik
Production Stage Manager – Jasmin Holton
Samuel Garnica – Emilio
Javier Iván – Nayib
Gaby Albo – Gloria
Katie McCollum – Young Gloria
Adriel Orlando Garcia – José Fajardo
Francisca Tapia – Gloria Fajardo
Adela Romero – Consuelo
Lauren Danielle Horgan – Rebecca Fajardo
Augusto Guardado – Phil
Facuno Agustín, Miguel Flores, Arquímides González, Emilee Hassanzadeh, Marielisa Lugo, Madelin Marchant, Reynel Reynaldo, Ralphie Rivera de Jesús, Angelliz M. Rosado Ramos, Kristen Tarragó, Sebastian Treviño, Zaiedd Vélez, Marina Vidal
Reviewed Performance: 3/2/2023
Reviewed by Carol M. Rice, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
On Your Feet! premiered on Broadway in November of 2015 after a brief run earlier in the year in Chicago. The jukebox musical, featuring songs Gloria Estefan made famous as a solo star and with Miami Sound Machine, begins when Gloria is a teenager just starting out in the music industry and takes us through her appearance at the American Music Awards after a devastating accident left her with a fractured spine. It was unsure whether she would ever walk again, but after surgery and a long rehabilitation period, she recovered and went on to record many more hits.
Gaby Albo plays the famous Gloria Estefan, and we get to see her grow from a quiet teenager who wants to be a psychologist but who likes to sing a little to the dynamic diva we’re all familiar with. Along the way, she falls in love with and marries Emilio Estefan, who is a major part of her success, as he constantly encourages and sometimes even pushes her to be better. Samuel Garnica is fabulous as Emilio. He has a great singing voice and a strong, sexy presence. His chemistry with Albo is evident from the beginning, and the two of them make a perfect pair. I would be remiss if I didn’t say anything else about Albo, as she is truly a triple threat! Usually the lead in a musical doesn’t have to keep up with the intricate dance moves of the ensemble, but as Gloria Estefan, Albo manages to do so effortlessly while singing up a storm! She also gets the chance to show her dramatic chops in the second act. Garnica’s Emilio is just as important a role as Albo’s Gloria in this show, and he is a solid actor, with several very funny moments as well as some drama. If either of these roles are not played well, the show falters, and these two keep us 100% invested from the get-go.
Despite the powerhouse performances of Albo and Garnica, the most impressive part of On Your Feet! to me was the incredible ensemble. This amazing group of dancers was constantly moving...and this wasn’t easy choreography! Plus, they had to be singing and harmonizing. Add in all the quick costume changes and small acting roles they all played, and I think I can safely say this may be one of the hardest working ensembles in the business. Kudos to dance captains Rodolfo Santamarina and Marielisa Lugo and to the entire ensemble for bringing the world of the musical together so perfectly. Of course, none of this would have been possible without Luis Salgado’s energetic choreography and solid direction.
The rest of cast is solid as well. Katie McCollum plays Young Gloria with unbridled joy. She truly makes Gloria’s love of singing shine through during her brief time onstage.
As Gloria’s mother Gloria Fajardo, Francisca Tapia is a force to be reckoned with! She is super protective of her family and makes her love for them apparent at all times, even when arguing with them. In addition to her solid acting, Tapia also gets to show off her singing skills in a powerful flashback and in a dramatic scene with Emilio while Gloria is recovering from spinal surgery.
Adriel Orlando Garcia plays Gloria’s father José Fajardo. We see him while he is in Vietnam, as a victim of multiple sclerosis, and in flashback, and while that’s not nearly enough, his presence is felt throughout. Garcia has a phenomenal tenor voice that I wish we could have heard more of.
Augusto Guardado provides us with a great deal of comedy relief as Phil. He’s fun to watch. Adela Romero is also quite amusing as Consuelo, Gloria’s grandmother. She seems to be the glue holding the Fajardo family together, and her tender yet comedic portrayal is multi-layered. As Gloria’s sister Rebecca, Lauren Danielle Horgan doesn’t have a lot to do, but she provides a constant, reassuring presence throughout.
Jeannette Christensen’s costumes were spot on for the period (oh, those baggy pleated jeans!) and it was nice to see them change as the years went by. This was aided by Bobbie Zlotnik’s hair and wig design. Clifton Chadick’s set design was simple yet effective, supported by Patrick W. Lord’s elaborate projection design. There was some trouble with the alignment of a couple of the LED screens during the first act but after a longer-than-usual intermission, they seemed to be working properly for the second act. Ryan O’Garza’s lighting design seemed to work well with the set and projections, and Diego Garzón’s sound design was consistent throughout, although sometimes things got a little too loud for my taste. (I feel like I should yell, “Get off my lawn!” here.) But the music and vocals were well balanced, and that’s what’s important for a show like this.
On Your Feet! is a dynamic, fun, enjoyable show, and Gloria Estefan enthusiasts will not be disappointed. I do think it runs a little long, there were a few parts of the story that confused me just due to not knowing how much time had passed, and it felt like the style of the first act and second act were a little too different, but quite honestly, those things don’t matter much. It’s still a good story - even more so because it’s true.
Whether you’re a fan or a relative newbie like me, you will enjoy On Your Feet! It’s here on a very limited run, so don’t wait to get your tickets!
AT&T Performing Arts Center
2403 Flora Street
Dallas, TX 750201
Runs through March 4 - Friday at 8:00 pm and Saturday at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm
For information and to purchase tickets, go to https://www.attpac.org/ or call the box office at (214) 880-0202.