Mauricio Martinez and Christie Prades play Emilio and Gloria Estefan in “On Your Feet!” onstage at the newly refurbished Golden Gate Theatre. (Courtesy Matthew Murphy)

Mauricio Martinez and Christie Prades play Emilio and Gloria Estefan in “On Your Feet!” onstage at the newly refurbished Golden Gate Theatre. (Courtesy Matthew Murphy)

The music is gonna get you ‘On Your Feet’

There’s a conga line of late-bloomer-Boomer-era song stylists like the Temptations (“Ain’t Too Proud”), Tina Turner (“Tina”) and Cher (“The Cher Show”) heading to Broadway to harmonize life stories with the likes of Carole King (“Beautiful”) and Donna Summer (“Summer”). Been there and done that is Gloria Estefan, the true queen of the conga, exhorting fans through her theatrical doppelgänger to get “On Your Feet!”

It’s a call worth answering. The Jerry Mitchell-directed Broadway edition ran a respectable two years and garnered a Tony nomination for its still-sizzling choreography by Sergio Trujillo. A Dutch production recently closed and a London version is planned for 2019. The current tour, running since late 2017, expertly turns the beat around in San Francisco at the newly-refurbished SHN Golden Gate Theatre until Oct. 7.

Subtitled “The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical,” the production is a 1-2-3 telling of the singer’s childhood, professional development and career ascendance amid the obligatory personal and professional setbacks — including a near fatal bus accident.

What sets this bio-musical apart from others is multidimensional characters who focus on family, the parity of the partnership between Gloria and Emilio, and the undeniable kinetic power of the music they made. There’s no use resisting, because the rhythm is gonna get you.

Christie Prades lacks a bit of the sloe-eyed look and smoky timbre of the original, but her Gloria is just as feisty, uncompromising and resilient. Prades plays a wonderful arc from eager girl to forceful artist, confident in her talent and her vision.

The challenge for her is to keep up with Mauricio Martínez as the less-public Emilio who just about steals the show.

From his flashback entrance in ridiculously tight white shorts, Martínez sets a tone of confident machismo leavened by a passion for his culture and the smarts to embrace the strengths Gloria brings to their professional and personal pairing. He’s a natural comic, grabbing the Ricky-Ricardo-motormouth-Spanglish stereotype and twisting it into a means to his end.

There’s also a current of unbending strength in his carriage, culminating in a show-stopping roar of “This is what an American looks like!” at a racist executive who would keep the Estefans in their music ghetto.

More than two-dozen Estefan and Miami Sound Machine songs carry you through the night, and some of the story-advancing placements like “If I Never Got to Tell You” as a post-accident family reconciliation for Emilio and Gloria’s mother (Nancy Ticotin) work particularly well.

The spindle of jukebox biographies is clearly not played out, but if future presenters take a page from the Estefan playbook — a lot of heart, a compelling story and solid production values — that may not be such a bad thing.

REVIEW
On Your Feet!
Where: Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; closes Oct. 7
Tickets: $70 to $246
Contact: www.shnsf.com Christie PradesEmilio EstefanGlora EstefanGolden Gate TheatreJerry MitchellMauricio MartinezOn Your FeetPop MusicSHN

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott leaves the scene of an officer-involved shooting at Brannan Street and Jack London Alley in the South Park area on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Chief Scott issues rare apology to man shot by SF police

Officer says he ‘did not intend for his firearm to go off’

Despite the pandemic, San Francisco has ended the fiscal year with a budget surplus. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Better than expected tax revenues leave city with $157.3M surplus for this year

As the fiscal year nears an end and Mayor London Breed prepares… Continue reading

Passengers board a BART train bound for the San Francisco Airport at Powell Street station. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
BART bumps up service restoration to August 30, offers fare discounts

Rail agency breaks pandemic ridership records, prepares to welcome more passengers

Ashley and Michelle Monterrosa hold a photo of their brother Sean Monterrosa, who was killed by a Vallejo police officer early Tuesday morning, as they are comforted at a memorial rally at the 24th Street Mission BART plaza on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
State Department of Justice to investigate Sean Monterrosa shooting by Vallejo police

Attorney General Rob Bonta steps in after Solano County DA declines case

Gov. Gavin Newsom, show here speaking at the City College of San Francisco mass vaccination site in April, faces a recall election due to anger on the right over his handling of the pandemic, among other issues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Why Gavin Newsom’s popularity could work against him in the recall election

Top pollster: ‘We’re not seeing the Democrats engaged in this election. And that may be a problem…’

Most Read