A couple of weeks ago I saw On Your Feet!, The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan at the Marquis Theatre. I only remembered some of her music growing up in the 90′s and I knew nothing about her life growing up in Miami. This was bound to be a history lesson on all fronts.

The timing of this show is perfect – a show about (a lot of) immigrants who do good shit and work their asses off. We need this right now in this country. I don’t think Gloria lived an extraordinary childhood by any means, but she was a very talented kid and to say that she’s lucky that Emilio found her is an understatement. The most amazing part of her story, though, was her recovery from her tour bus accident. I had zero idea this happened and her path to walking and dancing again is an inspiring one. (Sorry, spoiler alert?)

Luckily, this is a jukebox musical that is structured very well. The story flows and boredom is never really a thing that happens because every time you might find yourself looking for your Playbill, another one of her hit songs blares over the speakers and the energy in the audience spikes. Ana Villafane as adult Gloria and Alexandria Suarez as young Gloria were both excellent. Villafane sounded like an exact replica of Gloria herself. And lastly, Omar Lopez-Cepero, whom I remember from American Idiot, duh, was excellent as Emilio. 

On Your Feet! is a must-see for Estefan fans everywhere, at the very least.

Review: Beautiful

I finally, finally, finally got to see Beautiful last week. The musical based on the life of the incredible Carole King set to her music was an incredibly well written show. I mean: literally there is nothing wrong with it. At all. It was totally entertaining and had all of the feels in it – especially when her marriage was falling apart. But you know what else? I’d seen this show before. It was called Jersey Boys. And Motown The Musical

As well crafted as this musical was (is), I think it is the musical -traw that broke the camel’s back for me as far as jukebox musicals. The formula is stale and I was, at times, a little bored because I was all, “Oh yeah, now comes this part. Oh yeah, insert that song.” 

Carole King’s music is great; though she spent the first part of her career writing for other people. I liked the last sequence of the show, where she started recording music herself, much more than the rest because her solo songs that she recorded herself was much more my style. The music she wrote for other people was pop-y crap. You’ll recognize a lot of it for sure, even if you didn’t know it was King’s music, but her post-divorce music is just better, IMO. 

Chilina Kennedy, who took over the title role after Jessie Mueller’s exit two years ago, was on that night and she was incredible. At least her performance was incredible (I feel like I have to say that because I have no idea how she compares to King herself, because I’ve never seen or heard her perform). It’s always a pleasure to see Liz Larsen onstage, who played Genie Klein, and Scott J. Campbell, from the tour of American Idiot, was awesome as Gerry Goffin.

King’s story sort of reminds me of Adele’s story, too. Break up, write some emo songs, record emo album that becomes a hit. Carole King kind of did the same thing before Adele had ever sung a note. 

The show is formulaic but very enjoyable. The cast is having a great time, as is the audience (there was a middle-aged man standing up in front of his seat and dancing as the curtain went up before Act 2). I’m very glad I saw it and learned about Carole King.