Arts & Culture » Theater

Turn these beats around

by Roberto Friedman

Mauricio Martinez as Emilio Estefan (with Adriel Flete, background) in "On Your Feet!," now playing the SHN Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco. Photo: Matthew Murphy
Mauricio Martinez as Emilio Estefan (with Adriel Flete, background) in "On Your Feet!," now playing the SHN Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco. Photo: Matthew Murphy  

Last week Out There was in the house when "On Your Feet!," the touring Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway musical, opened at the newly remodeled SHN Golden Gate Theatre, which reopened its doors after 13 months of restorations. You could consider this feisty "Feet" an early kickoff to Hispanic Heritage Month, as it celebrates the rhythms and energy of the superstar Estefans and their connections to Cubano music and culture.

Packed with music produced and recorded by the Estefans & Miami Sound Machine, this is a jukebox musical that never skips a beat. Christie Prades is superb as Gloria, the singing sensation who sparks the fire. Mauricio Martinez is hunky and spirited as Emilio, her manager and husband who has the vision of stardom. The supporting players, musicians and dancers help power the show through such up-tempo numbers as "Turn the Beat Around" and "Everlasting Love." In-between we get somewhat saggy ballads and many plot complications involving record contracts and radio play.

All of that is enough to bring us to a tragic life event in Act II (it was new to us, so no spoilers here) and eventual resolution involving, yes, Dick Clark and the American Music Awards. If the Estefans' music and life stories speak to you, this is a jukebox you'll want to patronize. Through Oct. 7.


Then last Saturday night found OT at the 2018 GLAAD Gala San Francisco, held at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. We rubbed shoulders and other body parts with enlightened donors ponying up big bucks to benefit GLAAD's work creating acceptance for LGBTQ people.

The big show was hosted by wee actor Leslie Jordan ("Will & Grace," "The Cool Kids") with a full roster of honorees: actor-activist Alyssa Milano, TV host Ross Mathews, and journalist-"Native Son" founder Emil Wilbekin, as well as performers Kim Petras, Mj Rodriguez ("Pose"), Michelle Visage ("RuPaul's Drag Race"), Javier Muñoz ("Hamilton"), YouTube star Alyson Stoner, Axios journalist Ina Fried, and GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.

Thanks for GLAAD for inviting us to be a part of it. Find photos of the stellar affair in this week's "Shining Stars" column.

Reynolds wrap

Apropos of Tavo Amador's review of Todd Fisher's memoir this week, here's a little more dish on his mom, the immortal Debbie Reynolds. Reynolds organized and starred in what was perhaps the first significant AIDS fundraiser in San Francisco, in 1983. Shirley MacLaine and others joined her in a show at Davies Symphony Hall. Dianne Feinstein, then mayor, appeared as well. Depending on how much you donated, you could go backstage afterwards to meet Reynolds, and for the maximum, have dinner at Ivy's, where she would stop to chat with each diner. Tavo and his partner Bob gave the maximum amount, and backstage, they saw a woman approach Reynolds. She asked if Reynolds ever heard from her ex-husband, Eddie Fisher. Without missing a beat, Reynolds replied, "No, and I don't think Elizabeth does, either. Why don't you check with Connie Stevens?"

Many years later, impresario Marc Huestis brought her to the Castro Theatre, and Amador interviewed Reynolds for us at the B.A.R. When she walked out on stage, she got a standing O from the largely gay male audience. She quipped, "I've never been in a theatre where so many men loved me. You may not want me, but you love me."


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