Posted in comedy, drama, musical theater, theater

More Year end review: ‘Tis the season…For lists,

Looking back on the year about to pass is a time-honored activity. Critics make lists of the past year’s favorites and share them. Seems like a good time for T and B On the Aisle to do that, too. Part 2:

Fool for Love at MTC kept our attention, especially with Arianda and Rockwell in the lead. Props, also, to their co-stars, Gordon Joseph Weiss and Tom Pelphrey for their support in this Sam Shepard enterprise!  Was I alone in feelng giddy from all the subtle flirtation in Old Times?

Roundabout’s Thérèse Raquin, playing at Studio 54 through January 3rd, while not destined for greatness, is a solid and haunting production.

Clever Little Lies  at the Westside Theatre through January 3rd, is a very dark comedy, with some of the finest performances in town. Greg Mullavey is simply fantastic. Marlo Thomas has impeccable timing.

To complete the list of musicals we started in the Year end review:

The Cast of On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy
The Cast of On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy

Dames at Sea, constructed to make us feel like we were at one of those “let’s put on a show” films, succeeds at this conceit. This bit of fluff is definitely cute and the tap dancing is invigorating. Dames at Sea is at the Helen Hayes Theatre through January 3rd.

On Your Feet! will have you standing to dance along to Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s inspiring story.

Posted in based on a true story or event, bio-musical, jukebox musical, musical theater

Get with the conga beat, now

A friend recently said, “Everyone has tragedy in their lives.” He was referring to the Gloria and Emilio Estefan backstory to On Your Feet! in this conversation, which should not be too much of a spoiler for their fans;  there was the terrifying bus accident in 1990, and some other sadness as well in their lives.But Gloria and Emilio’s story is not defined by tragedy.

Ana Villafañe and the cast of On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy
Ana Villafañe and the cast of On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy

Like their life, and music, On Your Feet!, at the Marquis Theatre through April 3rd,  is about uplift.

On Your Feet! opens with a scene from a concert tour and then flashes back.

With a book by playwright Alexander Dinelaris, On Your Feet! features the music and lyrics of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, and music recorded by Miami Sound Machine, 5 of whose members are in the band.

Josh Segarra and Ana Villafañe (center) and the cast ofOn Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy
Josh Segarra and Ana Villafañe (center) and the cast ofOn Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy

As On Your Feet!   goes back to tell the tale of Gloria’s beginnings, little Gloria (Alexandria Suarez) sends tapes of songs to cheer her father (Eliseo Roman), who is stationed in Vietnam. As she grows up, Gloria (Ana Villafañe) is still singing, and taking care of the household while her mother, Gloria Fajardo (the always excellent Andréa Burns), goes off to school. Gloria’s grandmother, Consuelo (Alma Cuervo) was her biggest booster, urging her to practice her guitar.

he Cast of On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy
he Cast of On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy

Keeping the beat in upbeat, it’s the songs and the dancing, with a strong script, that are the big draw here. On Your Feet! features many fabulous dance numbers, performed by the energetic and nimble corps, but none is more impressive than one danced in wooden sandals.

Choreographer Sergio Trujillo gives the ensemble, headed by dance captains Natalie Caruncho and Hector Maisonet, plenty to show off. Also impressive is the young Eduardo Hernandez (in all the young boy roles) who gets to show off his “America’s Got Talent” talents and demonstrate why he won the 2014 Latin Dance Cup. The actors, led by the lovely and ebullient Ana Villafañe as Gloria, are all transcendent.

On Your Feet! benefits from the imaginative sets of David Rockwell, who uses scrims, and moving screens, as part, but not all, of the stylish scene-making. ESosa’s costumes are lush, colorful and varied, helping to create the timeline of the Estefans’ narrative. Director Jerry Mitchell seamlessly brings together all the elements that make On Your Feet! such a crowd-winning pleasure.

Linedy Genao, Ana Villafane & Jennifer Sanchez in !On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy
Linedy Genao, Ana Villafane & Jennifer Sanchez in On Your Feet! (c) Matthew Murphy

The Estefans, Emilio (Josh Segarra) and Gloria,   Cuban immigrants who met in Miami, made disco their own from the late 1970s to the late 1980s. Performing originally as the Miami Sound Machine and then as Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, the group disbanded except for a brief reunion in 2002. Gloria went on as a solo artist, with Emilio as her producer; over the years they have together won 26 GRAMMY Awards®.

On Your Feet! is a grand time, and not just for fans of disco and MSM but for anyone who likes a good musical. On Your Feet! is fortunate in having an intrinsically moving story for its wonderful cast to tell through its well-honed plot and exuberant music/dance.

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