A high-energy locomotive has powered into the Kennedy Center with the arrival of On Your Feet, the Tony-nominated Broadway musical about the life and music of Gloria Estefan.
While the show’s book, written by Academy Award-winner Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman), charts the romance and fruitful partnership of Cuban immigrants Estefan and her husband Emilio, the score celebrates the decades of hit songs they produced, mainly with their group the Miami Sound Machine. For star Christie Prades, who leads the conga-line through the Estefan songbook — from “Rhythm is Gonna Get You” to Spanish-language favorites like “Mi Tierra” — it’s a marathon performance.
“I think I’m offstage for only two numbers,” says the Miami-born daughter of Cuban immigrants. “So when I am [offstage], I take as many breaths as possible, because I have to go right back up and stay there until the end.”
Known for the infectious beat of their Latin crossover sound, the Estefans created music that’s lit up stadiums and dance floors worldwide. Still, Prades, who also performs a few famous ballads in the show, credits the passion of Estefan’s songwriting for the amazing connection between Gloria, a recent Kennedy Center honoree, and her many fans.
“She’s such an incredible songwriter, she and the whole team of Miami Sound Machine,” she says. “It’s a storytelling kind of music that we don’t really hear nowadays. It’s just about living and enjoying the music, enjoying rhythm, enjoying life.”
Prades also respects the legacy pioneered by Latin music artists, like Celia Cruz, who came before the Estefans, as well as those who have come since Gloria first sang her way into the spotlight.
“Her music is timeless, and it’s really interesting to bring [it] back to those who were huge fans of her in the ’80s and ’90s, and to also bring it to the new generation. That’s the brilliance of her songwriting and her melody making. I think that they had that gift, and that’s why it stays so, so relevant today.”
On Your Feet runs to January 28 at the Kennedy Center Opera House. Tickets are $59 to $149. Call 202-467-4600, or visit kennedy-center.org.
Watch: On Your Feet perform for Gloria Estefan at the 2017 Kennedy Center Honors
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