The Rhythm Will Get to You in ‘Get On Your Feet!’

Syd Pierre, page editor

‘Get On Your Feet’ is an award-winning jukebox musical based on the lives and relationship of singer-songwriters, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, who both contributed to the music and plot of the show. ‘Get On Your Feet’ premiered on Broadway in the winter of 2015 and closed in the summer of 2017, before embarking on a tour around the United States that began in the fall of 2017. The musical was nominated and won multiple awards, including an Outer Critic Award and a Theatre World Award for best choreography.

‘Get On Your Feet’ dives directly into Gloria’s (Christie Prades) early career and life, as it opens with a dance number at one of her concerts in 1990. The show flashes back to Gloria’s youth, as she makes her way into the growing music scene after joining the then Miami Latin Boys (later the Miami Sound Machine). As her confidence grows, so does her relationship with Emilio (Eddie Noel), but she faces backlash from her mother Gloria Fajardo (Nancy Ticotin), who disapproves of her emerging career path and relationship. Gloria and Emilio eventually confess their love to each other through some of their top hits, like “I See Your Smile” and “Here We Are,” while Gloria mends her relationship with her mother through “If I Never Got To Tell You.”

Noel and Prade’s chemistry is admirable and convincing. The displays of endearment and selfishness between Gloria and Emilio are one of the main focuses of the musical, which helped them be one of the first music groups to “cross-over” between the Latin and American music scenes successfully. Given the world today, the themes of immigration that are prevalent in the show are fitting, between “Mi Tierra” sung by Ticotin as she learns that she must flee her home country of Cuba and the line spoken by Noel that led to cheers from the audience: he pointed to himself and exclaimed that “this is what an American looks like.”

Prades was the original understudy on Broadway and, like Gloria, she is a first-generation Cuban-American who grew up in Miami, so it comes as no surprise that she brings authenticity to this demanding role. Sounding remarkably similar to Gloria during well-known numbers, such as “1-2-3” and “The Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” Prades captures Gloria’s stubbornness and strength, and brings energy to the dances. In “Conga,” she is followed around the stage by Bar Mitzvah attendants, an Italian wedding party, and members of a Shriner’s convention, in hope of promoting her song. Prades also takes the time to make the character her own, providing a delicate balance to softer moments, such as the time young Gloria spends caring for her ailing father and her tough recovery after the infamous bus accident in 1990.

 ‘Get On Your Feet’ certainly knows how to party; packed with energetic dance numbers and well-known music, the show brings the heat to the cold city of Minneapolis. Fans will love the music, but everyone will leave the show with at least one of the songs stuck in their head and a little pep in their step. One word of advice: just “let the music move your feet!”