At this point, it can be safely assumed that every well-known musician and band will eventually receive a “jukebox musical” comprised of their hit songs. “Mamma Mia!” finally closed in September after a 14-year run, but “Jersey Boys” and “Beautiful” are still around, and many more will follow. The temptation is just too strong for producers to resist.
Newest on the block is “On Your Feet!,” an occasionally fun new musical about Cuban-American pop star Gloria Estefan and her husband, Grammy-winning producer Emilio Estefan, which is built around the catchy songs created by them and the Miami Sound Machine, such as “Conga” and “Rhythm is Gonna Get You.”
While Act One observes Gloria’s journey to becoming a popular singer under Emilio’s guidance, Act Two follows her physical recovery after a violent car accident in 1990.
“On Your Feet!” has a whitewashed, corporate-approved texture, which makes Gloria and Emilio come off as utterly devoid of personalitydespite their accomplishments and personal drama. It’s so self-congratulatory that one gets the impression that they personally vetted every line.
The production (directed by Jerry Mitchell and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo) comes to life during upbeat production numbers, which have lively, salsa-flavored movement and a hot sound.
But more often than not, it gets mired in flashbacks and other downbeat sequences in which the songs lack impact. It feels rather like a pop concert that is too often paused.
In the most inventive sequence, “The Conga” is introduced at a Bar Mitzvah and an Italian wedding, and the cast then enlists audience members to join a conga line in the aisles.
Ana Villafañe, an unknown who won the role of Gloria Estefan, is a beauty with a bright presence. She receives solid support from Josh Segarra as the gentle Emilio and Andréa Burns as Gloria’s stern mother. But the real standout may be Eduardo Hernandez, a young boy who is one hell of a dancer and Bar Mitzvah boy.
If you go: “On Your Feet!” plays an open run at the Marquis Theatre. 1535 Broadway, onyourfeetmusical.com