Theater / Film

‘On Your Feet’ Musical Arrives At Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood

Written By Michelle F. Solomon
April 15, 2024 at 9:51 PM

With director Luis Salgado’s ’80’s-inspired choreography, there was hit after hit in the show “On Your Feet” that played four performances at The Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood. (Photo courtesy of Obislet Cardozo for Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood)

Usually a venue for rock bands like ZZ Top and Def Leppard, country superstars like Kenny Chesney and blasts from the past like Donny Osmond and Diana Ross, The Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood ventured into a Broadway theatrical performance for four shows with opening night of “On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan” on Thursday, April 11 and running through Saturday, April 13.

In 2017, the national touring production stopped by Miami, where it ran for an unbelievable 10 days and Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables did their own version with the Estefans showing up on opening night in 2022.

The Estefans didn’t show up at the Hard Rock but, on opening night, the crowd did and there were plenty of fans in the crowd that knew the words to songs and applauded when backdrop projections referenced 1980s Miami including signs projected of clubs the band got their start in: Casanovas in Hialeah and Honey for the Bears in Miami.

“On Your Feet” played four performances at the Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood opening on April 11, 2024. (Photo courtesy of Obislet Cardozo for Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood)

Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, as part of a $1.5 billion property wide expansion, redid its former stadium venue, which opened in 2005. Now it’s a plush 7,000-seat theater, more intimate than the previous arena-like setting. The jukebox musical “On Your Feet” fit in just fine.

There’s a South Florida connection to the show. Seth Greenleaf from Boca Raton is the CEO and President of GFOUR Productions, the producers of the show. And another local connection, the non Equity tour with the same cast had its first run Nov. 15, 2022 in West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center. And more local connections. Adela Romero (Consuelo) who steals hearts through the show as Gloria’s biggest fan and abuela is from Miami. Madelin Marchant who is the understudy to Consuelo and who is in the ensemble is also from Miami.

Gaby Albo plays Gloria Estefan and Samuel Garnica is Emilio Estefan, who have been the leads since the national tour opened. Albo and Garnica starred in a Spanish language version of “On Your Feet” at the GALA Hispanic Theatre in Washington, D.C., too.

Samuel Garnica is Emilio Estefan and Gaby Albo plays Gloria Estefan in the national tour of “On Your Feet.” They have been in the lead roles since the national tour opened in 2022. (Photo courtesy of Obislet Cardozo for Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood)

The show starts off with a bang with the opening “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” and then we’re taken back in time as a young Gloria is strumming a guitar while a voice on a tape of her father is cheering her on while fighting in Vietnam.

Quickly the musical gives us the story we’re waiting for – how she met Emilio and her rise with Miami Sound Machine.

Kristen Tarragó, as Gloria Fajardo, the bitter mother who objects to Emilio from the start and show biz, is a showstopper in the flashback to Cuba’s Tropicana where we learn she was a singer and had a career of her own.

There aren’t lavish sets – most of that is done with projections — and the costumes for the concert scenes fail to capture the essence of the era, but this was the right choice for an audience that came to hear Gloria Estefan’s songs, not see fancy sets. With director Luis Salgado’s ’80’s-inspired choreography, there was hit after hit: “Conga,”“Dr. Beat,” “Turn the Beat Around,” “1, 2, 3,” and, of course, “On Your Feet.”

One of the early scenes in the production with Gloria as a young girl. (Photo courtesy of Obislet Cardozo for Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood)

This was mostly a concert crowd. At intermission, some people in the audience were confused asking the ushers if the show was over. Live music shows usually don’t have an intermission. But they came back for the second half.

Who knows, maybe an introduction to a Broadway touring show in a venue like this playing to an audience that isn’t your usual theater crowd will get some of those folks buying tickets to the Arsht or the Broward Center.

Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood is located at 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. For a calendar of upcoming events, click here.

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