On Your Feet!: Theater review by Adam Feldman
There’s not much to dislike about On Your Feet!, because there’s not much about it to inspire reaction of any kind. A serviceable jukebox musical about Cuban-American recording star Gloria Estefan (Ana Villafañe) and her husband, Emilio (Josh Segarra), the show starts at what may be an insurmountable disadvantage: Neither Estefan nor her life nor her music are especially dramatically interesting. This is the story of a sensible, talented, hard-working woman in a happy marriage who made successful professional dance pop. Opera it is not.
With the bland diligence of an authorized mass-market biography, Alexander Dinelaris’s script trudges through Estefan’s journey from psychology student to Miami Sound Machine singer and beyond. Villafañe and Segarra are likable and credible, but the time line is muddled, and what pass for conflicts seem inflated: an obstinate mother (flinty Andréa Burns), a record label briefly resistant to the couple’s plans. The audience perks up each time one of Estefan’s Latin-flavored hits begins, then palpably wilts as the numbers go on. Rhythm can only get you so far.
Marquis Theatre (Broadway). Book by Alexander Dinelaris. Music and lyrics by various artists. Directed by Jerry Mitchell. With Ana Villafañe, Josh Segarra. Running time: 2hrs 20mins. One intermission.
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