It’s not a wedding or a Bar Mitzvah but it sounds like a celebration when the orchestra, directed by Bob Bray, plays: “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” “Conga,” Get on Your Feet,” and “1-2-3.” These and other Cuban fusion numbers by Gloria and Emilio Estafan have Westchester Broadway Theatre audiences dancing to the beat of its current musical, “On Your Feet.”
The book by Academy Award Winner Alexander Dinelaris, tells the Estefan story against the colorful background of Cubans living in Miami. Multi-talented teenager, Gloria (Maria Bilbao) auditions for Emilio (Jose Luaces) and accepts the offer to join his band against the wishes of her mother (Karmine Alers). Never the less, grandma (Sandy Rosenberg) encourages young Gloria to believe in herself and follow her heart. The musical group is booked at small, local venues and eventually the couple marries. Together, Gloria and Emilio begin producing their own shows while climbing the ladder to greater success. Most of her fans know that Gloria suffered a broken vertebra due to a bus accident that almost ended her career. Thus, the musical highlights Emilio’s loving support while Gloria struggles to make a successful comeback.
Under the direction of Donna Drake, the handsome, sexy, leading performers, Maria Bilbao and Jose Luaces’ individual talents shine brightly. Karmine Alers is appropriately fiery and stubborn as Gloria’s embittered mother, while Sandy Rosenberg is the amusing, loveable grandma. The two children who often steal the spotlight are: Isabella Preston, who plays little Gloria, and Andrew Alcruz who plays young Emilio, the Bar Mitzvah Boy and Gloria and Emilio’s son.
The various, confrontational barriers that Gloria and Emilio face before attaining international stardom take place on dimly lit, side alcoves. Just when the details become tedious to follow, the center stage lights up with Latino dancing that is embellished with interesting choreography by Rhoda Miller. The dance ensemble is quite agile despite its unusual assortment of male shapes and sizes. The period dresses and flashy, dance costumes by Keith Nielsen are right on target.
This is an all family-show. The dinner theatre offers a variety of delicious choices and convenient, free parking.
Plays to August 4th 2019 Tickets: 914-592-2222
(World Premiere of “Mambo Italiano” August 8 – September 29)
This review appears in “On CT & NY Theatre” July/2019