Broadway-style, original musicals are struggling on the Strip these days, which is to say there aren’t any such shows in casino theaters at this particular moment. If we could nominate a show that would almost certainly work well in this environment, one with electric and beloved music and a timeless true story, it would be the show visiting the Smith Center this week.
On Your Feet! is the story behind the love and music of Gloria and Emilio Estefan. After a 2015 Chicago premiere and an acclaimed two-year run at Broadway’s Marquis Theatre, the musical written by the multiple Grammy-winning couple and Alexander Dinelaris and directed by Jerry Mitchell—and co-produced by notable Las Vegan Bernie Yuman—played for eight months in the Netherlands before kicking off its U.S. tour last fall.
The production that hits Reynolds Hall for eight shows from September 4-9 runs for 150 minutes with an intermission, but if you trim that to 100 you could have a big Vegas winner, and Emilio Estefan is aware of this possibility.
“So many people have mentioned that,” he says. “Vegas is like Broadway in that you have new people coming in every single week, and Gloria is so well-known worldwide. I think Vegas would be an incredible thing. Bernie has always said one place the show would do great is Vegas, so I hope we hear from some of those guys and they make an offer.”
The Estefans bring considerable power to such a project. A retired pop legend, Gloria consistently brought her tours to Las Vegas, most frequently to Caesars Palace, and Emilio is a renowned producer of music, film and television who helped mold the careers of other Latin stars including Shakira, Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez.
“We have a lot of good memories in Las Vegas, and I’m excited to see [how On Your Feet!] does there after seeing it in New York and LA,” Emilio says. “We’re trying to go [to Las Vegas] for it. It’s been amazing and sometimes surprising to see the reaction in different places, in Holland and the U.S., and now we’re going to open in England [next summer].”
On Your Feet! isn’t just a musical saturated with hits like “Conga,” “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” “1-2-3” and “Coming Out of the Dark,” it’s the story of the Estefans’ lives and careers, from Gloria’s upbringing in Miami’s Little Havana to Emilio’s encouragement that drew the shy singer onstage. The post-superstardom second act follows the family’s evolution and recounts the 1990 tour bus crash that almost paralyzed Gloria. That’s when the show’s one original song is performed: “If I Never Got to Tell You,” co-written by their daughter Emily Estefan, also a musician.
“That’s a very special moment,” Emilio says. “We see it as many times as we can, and it’s a great feeling. It’s been a beautiful career, and it’s been so nice to inspire through this show, not only to inspire minorities and Latinos but just to show you can live in this incredible country and dreams can come true. We always wanted to give something back and we’re happy to do that.”
ON YOUR FEET! September 4-9, times vary, $49-$119. Reynolds Hall, 702-749-2000.