Monday, December 28, 2015

I'm not a big fan of Broadway musicals but I just couldn't resist an airy new soufflé of a play: "On Your Feet: The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan." I had such a wonderful evening that my only regret is I couldn't find anyone to go along.

"It's the story of Gloria Estefan told in song and dance?" asked my friend Margo excitedly.

"Not just Gloria Estefan!" I replied. "Emilio too!"

She cocked her head and shot me a funny look and suddenly remembered that she had to wash her dog. Her loss! Because I give this fabulous little musical two thumbs up.

I have to admit I probably would have stayed away if Emilio hadn't been so visibly included. I don't know about you, but I'd see an ad for "On Your Feet: The Story of Gloria Estefan" and I'd think, "Well, she's fun and all, but I'd really like to see her interact with an accordion player who works at the Bacardi distillery."

After all, what is the showgirl without the businessman? Leaving him out would be like an Oscars broadcast without a mention of Price Waterhouse. He discovered her, so naturally we're dying to hear his story. After all, didn't we flock to "This I Promise You: The Enchanted Life of Lou Pearlman"?

I don't think I'm alone in this, either. Everyone's fascinated by the man behind the woman, which is why the Carl&Dollywood theme park is such a massive hit. I swear, the last time I went there I must have waited in line three hours for the "Basics of Accounting" ride.

And Emilio Estefan is so much more than just a businessman. He mentored Marc Antony, Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin, though due to the high cost of getting rights to celebrity names they're called Mike Kasminski, Jackie Pachinko and Fred Mertz in the musical. Permanently burned into my brain is a particularly intense scene where Estefan is determined to make a star of the bumbling Mertz. His voice cracks from strain as he repeatedly prods the young man that it's "la vida lo-CA. La vida lo-CA."

I'm not saying the show would have been unwatchable without Emilio, but it would have suffered. Sure, we would have been delighted by "The Rhythm is Going To Get You," but it wouldn't have resonated half as much without the emotional counterpoint of "Creating A Strategic Marketing Platform With Latin-Oriented Businesses." The kids and the women in the crowd absolutely adored "Conga," but the men didn't really come alive until Emilio's showstopper, "Promoting Trade Diversity in the Miami-Dade Community."

Still, my favorite scene had to be where Emilio and Gloria show each other that their half of the partnership is very hard work. Gloria forces Emilio to sing and dance while wearing bolero shorts, and Emilio makes Gloria sort through her receipts. Is dining in a foreign city ENTERTAINMENT or TRAVEL? I was in hysterics as she tried to decide.

Anyway, I highly recommend this musical. If you've ever wondered about the struggle that comes before success, you should go. If you've ever wanted a deeper explanation of a Gloria Estefan song, you have to go. And if you've ever watched women's gymnastics on TV and thought, "The pommel horse routines are interesting, but I'd really like to know more about that Hungarian guy who pats them on the head afterward," then 1-2-3 get your tickets NOW!

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