“On Your Feet!” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – July 16, 2022


The Phoenix Theatre Company, Mainstage Theatre
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

“On Your Feet” is a delicious confection exuberantly mounted by The Phoenix Theatre Company that pays homage to the great Hispanic vocal artists Gloria and Emilio Estefan.

The show is loaded with songs the artists wrote and others that they made their own.  It is filled with excitingly energetic dance numbers that explode on the stage as the musical tribute delves into Gloria’s life and how, through driving determination, she and her husband became iconic singing artists.  The biographical sections reveal how difficult Gloria’s life was but how well she handled her talent so she could achieve stardom. The challenges her fearsome Mother laid on her and the ups and downs of her marriage are exposed.  The show demonstrates how her determination, dedication, stamina, and inspiration helped her become a star.  The show suggests that the overly dominant Emilio tried to control Gloria and how she effectively fought him to preserve her talents and establish her career.

The 2015 musical revealed what fans may not have known about Gloria’s life and how those details shaped her legendary career.  The musical also deals with the singer’s near-death bus accident plus her long and slow recovery aided by her fortitude.

Although the Estefan’s life is nuanced and interesting, the show is ultimately a colossal entertainment that throbs with dynamic excitement as expressed in director Pasha Yamotahari’s staging and especially in Sergio Mejia’s lively choreography. Alan J. Plado’s vigorous orchestra blasts the familiar tunes out for the dashingly sharp ensemble that essay the people who played critical parts in the duo’s life and success.

Kassandra Haddock essays Gloria with exuberant dynamism and her rich singing is perfect for her songs.  One wonders why she doesn’t use Gloria’s distinctive accent.  Adam James King is a dominant Emilio and his mellow singing brings sharp focus to his duets with Gloria and his solos.

Astonishing is Karmine Alers’ Gloria Fajardo, Gloria’s cautious and often frightened Mother, as is Maria Amorocho’s Consuelo, Gloria’s grandmother who pushed both her daughter and granddaughter to strive for stardom as Cuban immigrants living in America.  The gifted singing/dancing ensemble further energizes the show.  Maci Hosler’s showy costumes add dazzle as do Robert Kovach’s ever-changing scenic locales.

For someone who never participated in the Gloria and Emilio Estefan bandwagon, “On Your Feet” opened up the talented duo while showcasing their music in the splashy show that entertained winningly. “On Your Feet” runs through August 28.  To order tickets, call The Phoenix Theatre Company box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: A