REVIEW: Lexus Broadway in Boston’s ‘On Your Feet’ a riveting, musical sensation

Leave it to music trailblazers Gloria and Emilio Estefan to make even folding laundry an exhilarating event.  A glimmering purple curtain provided just a hint of the radiance behind it as Lexus Broadway in Boston presented On Your Feet through Sunday, April 29 at the Boston Opera House at 529 Washington Street in Boston, Massachusetts.  Direct from Broadway and featuring five of the original members of Gloria Estefan’s band, Miami Sound Machine, On Your Feet is currently on a national tour.  Click here to find out where they will take the stage next.

BIB On Your Feet Gloria Estefan and National Tour

Christie Prades as Gloria Estefan and the company of the national tour of ‘On Your Feet’.

From its first few powerful notes and flowing, multicolored club lights, On Your Feet is a party from the start.  After real life superstar couple, Gloria and Emilio Estefan playfully introduce the show, Cuban dancers emerge pounding drums as a full, onstage band, Miami Sound Machine, flood the stage and greet the audience.  Award-winning Sergio Trujillo’s thrilling choreography frames every aspect of this international, true story with flair and gusto.  It has an equal share of wild, quick, and intense music with complex, fancy foot work as well as poignant, inspiring moments within a few of Gloria Estefan’s famous ballads.   Gloria and Emilio Estefan are behind the Latin rhythms, touching original compositions, and the orchestrations of some of Gloria Estefan’s biggest hits.  This captivating production not only showcases Latin culture and a peek into its history, but Gloria and Emilio’s tenacious struggle to fit it into American music scene.

BIB On Your Feet National Tour of show

The company of the national tour of ‘On Your Feet’.

Costume designer Emilio Sosa skillfully replicated Gloria’s sparkling, iconic outfits featured in her memorable concert appearances, the Estefan’s worldwide travel, brought together the colorful styles of the 60s, 80s, and 90s from casual, colorful floral summer wear of Cuba and Miami to elegant, nightclub attire.  David Rockwell’s often romantic scenic design and dim lighting depict Miami’s palm tree silhouettes as well as the particular vibe in their worldwide travels.

BIB On Your Feet Gloria Adriel and Company

Christie Prades as Gloria Estefan, Adriel Flete and the company of the national tour of ‘On Your Feet’.

On Your Feet not only explores Gloria and Emilio’s budding romance and their mutual dreams, but their aspirations to pursue music as Latin performers.  What is most fascinating about the show is Mauricio Martinez as Emilio and Christine Prades as Gloria’s sheer dogged determination to thrive.  Martinez offers a charming, yet serious performance as Emilio, business minded and determined with smooth and angelic vocals.  He delivers a touching rendition of Gloria Estefan’s hit, Don’t Want to Lose You Now and original song written by Gloria Estefan’s daughter, If I Never Got To Tell You, a duet with Nancy Ticotin as Gloria Estefan’s mother, Gloria Fajardo.  Martinez is intense, charismatic, and always planning one step ahead.

BIB On Your Feet Gloria Emilio and Company

Christie Prades as Gloria Estefan, Mauricio Martinez as Emilio Estefan, and the company of the national tour of ‘On Your Feet.’

It is easy to see why Christine Prades as Gloria has such natural, crackling chemistry with Martinez.  Prades as Gloria complements Emilio’s drive through her vibrant, shy, and creative personality.  Curly haired and slim with inflections of Gloria Estefan’s distinctive voice, it is hard to imagine another person portraying the award-winning singer-songwriter.  She engages the audience with her glowing, infectious smile while skillfully handling the quick pacing and complex choreography of this production, often breaking out into song and dance on a dime.   From a ‘can’t-help-but-sing’ child doing chores in Cuba, portrayed sweetly by Ana-Sofia Rodriguez, to a timid woman taking the stage, Gloria’s charismatic stage presence in undeniable. Together, Gloria and Emilio are a force to be reckoned with in their uphill battle to become a music sensation.  The tender song, Here We Are is a particular highlight, showing off their sweet chemistry.

BIB On Your Feet Gloria and national tour

Nancy Ticotin as Gloria Fajardo and the company of the national tour of On Your Feet.

Nancy Ticotin delivers a powerful performance as Gloria Fajardo, Gloria’s mother.  Ticotin portrayed strong willed Fajardo with a passion and a powerful voice, especially portrayed with the flirtatious number Mi Tierra, sung in a Havana nightclub.  Ticotin is stubborn and hard on Gloria, but with a giving spirit toward Jason Martinez as Gloria’s loving war veteran father, Jose.

BIB On Your Feet Gloria Kevin and Emilio

Christie Prades as Gloria Estefan, Kevin Tellez, Mauricio Martinez as Emilio Estefan and the company of the national tour of ‘On Your Feet’.

On Your Feet not only quite literally encourages the audience to dance with some of Gloria’s most riveting songs such as 1-2-3, Rhythm is Gonna Get You, Conga and Dr. Beat, but also depicts the journey and sorrows of following a dream.  It has its share of humorous moments in Debra Cardona as Gloria’s charming grandmother, Consuelo, in her unwavering support of her granddaughter and delivering a few sharp one liners.  Carlos Carreras as Jeremy wows as an enthusiastic Gloria Estefan fan that can’t help but dance.  In such an uplifting, spectacular musical celebration, it is easy to understand why.

BIB On Your Feet Concert stage

The company of the national tour of ‘On Your Feet.’

On Your Feet is currently on a national tour.  Click here to find out where they will take the stage next.  Click here for more of Lexus Broadway in Boston’s upcoming performances and follow them on Facebook.

For Performing Arts news, interviews, reviews, and much more in Boston and beyond, follow us on Facebook @sleeplesscritic and subscribe.

Plymouth Community Theatre’s annual musical show ‘The Christmas House’ boasts Christmas carols, intriguing tales, and more

‘Tis the season once again for The Christmas House, an annual musical gathering to hear a blend of beloved Christmas carols, festive, original music by Marianne Withington, and intriguing holiday tales nestled in the Spire Center for Performing Arts in Plymouth, Massachusetts for one weekend only Friday, December 8 through Sunday, December 10.  Click here for tickets and more information.

Written and directed by Marianne Withington, The Christmas House is an original story that explores the magic and meaning of Christmas through the warm memories and celebrations inside an old house since 1788.  Along with traditional Christmas carols by the PCT singers, the cast will narrate and sing original music composed by Marianne Withington.

Plymouth Community Theatre is proud to present The Christmas House musical for three performances only on Friday, December 8 and Saturday, December 9 at 8 p.m.  One Sunday matinee will be held on December 10 at 4 p.m.  All performances are held at Spire Center for Performing Arts, 25 ½ Court Street in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Click here for tickets, call 617-308-7834, and tickets will also be available at the box office.  Follow Plymouth Community Theatre on Facebook and Twitter for auditions, how to donate, and their upcoming performances.

The Spire Center for Performing Arts boasts a wealth of exciting concerts, performances, and much more, especially during the holiday season.  Tour the Spire Center for Performing Arts, learn about becoming a member, and click here for a diverse roster of exciting events at the Spire or call 1-508-746-4488.  Spire Center for Performing Arts is also available on Facebook.

After a night out, MET Bar and Grill presents the return of ‘Boston Hot Chocolate Experience’

Sweeten the end of a concert or a night out at the theatre with rich chocolate.  Whether hot or cold, it is an undeniable treat throughout the year.  With the return of ‘Boston Hot Chocolate Experience’ starting Friday, November 25 and continuing through Valentine’s Day 2018 at three MET Bar and Grill locations in Massachusetts, chocolate has never tasted better.  Click here for more information.

Exclusively at MET Back Bay, customers can indulge in an interactive experience with Tableside Smores. They can toast extra-large marshmallows at their own table and add graham crackers, milk, white, or dark chocolate.  Hot chocolate options include Classic Hot Chocolate featuring vanilla chocolate, whipped cream, and mini-roasted marshmallows, Caramel Sea Salt with whipped cream and caramel drizzle, Espresso with Almond Biscotti, and White Chocolate Peppermint Hot Chocolate, featuring white chocolate, crushed peppermint stick, vanilla cream, and a candy cane.  Each treat can be enhanced with Peppermint Liquor, Caramel Vodka, Bailey’s, and more.

These holiday treats are presented as ‘A Flight of Four’ experience featuring four miniature glasses or attendees can order one flavor as ‘One Big One’ presentation.  Visit MET Back Bay in Boston and MET Bar and Grill in Dedham and Natick, Massachusetts.  MET offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as Saturday and Sunday Brunch. They also are available for private events and gift cards are available online for the perfect gift.

Jars of Clay, TobyMac, and For King and Country part of ‘Soulfest’s’ 20th anniversary concert celebration

Soulfest Full lineup

Credit to Gunstock Mountain Resort and Soulfest

Nestled in the White Mountains is a concert experience unlike any other.  Beautiful and uplifting, Soulfest is celebrating its 20th anniversary as a haven for fellowship and the Christian music scene in the stunning mountain setting from Thursday, August 3 through Saturday, August 5 at Gunstock Mountain in Gilford, NH.  In addition, this anniversary concert weekend will also include the Soulfest Kickoff Concert as well as the late night screening of the film, Priceless on Wednesday, August 2.  Click here for an inside look at this anniversary concert experience.

Soulfest Revolution

Soulfest concert scene Photo credit to Soulfest

Co-founded by Dan Russell in 1998, Soulfest annually features an incredible repertoire on multiple stages, featuring 80 musical guests and inspirational speakers over a three day weekend in August.  With this year’s theme entitled ‘Music, Love, Action,’ the Soulfest Kickoff Concert includes performances by Grammy and Dove Award winners Jars of Clay, The Violet Burning, Rachel Taylor, and Dan Russell.  A few highlights spread out over the Inside Out, Mercy Street, and Revival stages are For King and Country, TobyMac, Crowder, Derek Minor, Moriah Peters, Lacey Sturm, Kardia, Project 86, Epic Season, The Light of Hope, as well as acoustic performances on the Mountain Top stage from Chasing the Light, Christopher Williams, Big Kettle Drum, and more.  Click here for this year’s milestone lineup and for tickets.

Soulfest Kickoff Concert

Kickoff concert lineup Photo courtesy of Soulfest

Not only is Soulfest a monumental musical event, it is also packed with exciting and informative workshops by Grammy-winning singer-songwriters, professors, New York bestselling authors, and much more.  This year, the Justice Center stage includes Morning Worship hosted by The Salvation Army and Soulfest Open Mic, the Inside Out stage features Musician’s Workshop with Paul Colman as well as Catholic Mass with Matt Maher, and the Mercy Street stage features a few performers in The Songwriters Circle.  Soulfest also offers an opportunity to meet some of the acclaimed performers in the Meet and Greet/VIP Lounge.

Soulfest performers 2

Photo credit to Soulfest

Soulfest performers

Photo credit to Soulfest

Attendees are also invited to participate in activities onsite including Zip Line, Mini Golf, Paddleboats, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Kayaking, and more.  Kids’ activities zone includes an archery tent, video game hub, and there will also be a children’s ministry in front of a campfire.  Click here for more information.

Soulfest candlelight service

Candlelight service, part of Soulfest’s 20th anniversary celebration Photo credit to Soulfest

Soulfest is always looking for volunteers and are in need of 500 in order to run this three day festival.  Benefits of volunteering include free admission, free camping in volunteer section, and one free meal a day.   To learn about requirements and to register, click here.

Click here for full three day tickets, day passes, and evening passes.  Follow Soulfest on Twitter and Facebook for more details.

REVIEW: Led by CeCe Winans, Boston Pops Gospel Night rings in a joyous 25 years

Over the past 25 years, Boston Pops Gospel Night has stood the test of time as a glorious and revered annual tradition.  An illuminated brass backdrop, shining music notes, and a floating, celluloid film strip adorned the Symphony Hall stage while an enthusiastic crowd filed in for this highly-anticipated, one night only, 25th anniversary event.

Each year, Gospel Night features a special blend of acclaimed musical guests, a variety of beloved and new songs from the Boston Pops Gospel Choir, and memorable performances.  With multiple Grammy Award-winning singer CeCe Winans, a resounding, patriotic, monumental speech about freedom and peace, and rousing performances from the Boston Pops Gospel Choir, the Boston Pops Gospel Night has certainly outdone itself.  It’s an annual concert with toe tapping reverence and a spirited finale that always brings the audience to its feet.  Click here for more information on the Boston Pops, upcoming events, and more.

Warmly greeting the crowd and the orchestra was accomplished conductor, pianist, and composer Charles Floyd, who has been conducting Gospel Night for the past 23 years.  Click here for a closer look at Charles Floyd and his career.  Distinguished looking in a white tuxedo with black pants and a bow tie, Charles Floyd gave an appreciative wave before opening the 25th anniversary concert with Aaron Copland’s spirited Fanfare for the Common Man, as horns blared distinct and clear.  It was a mix of tender, powerful, and upbeat melodies that included Bach’s Little Fugue in G Minor and Chadwick’s Jubilee, which culminated into a vigorous finish and wondrous applause.

Gospel Night also recognized what would have been the recent 100th birthday of the late President John F. Kennedy by paying tribute to him and also honoring award-winning conductor, John Williams, who was the subject of this year’s Boston Pops season.  Young and naturally charismatic Reverend Thomas Crowley who is Senior Pastor of Myrtle Baptist Church, passionately delivered JFK’s famous inaugural address, “Let the Word Go Forth,” a stirring and thrilling speech which remains especially prevalent today.  The audience was captivated as the Reverend spoke of freedom, peace, ambition, and achieving the American ideal of brotherhood as musical excerpts of John Williams film score, JFK and Celebration 2000: Journey of John Williams rose underneath.

Boston Pops CeCe_Winans

Legendary, Grammy award-winning Gospel singer CeCe Winans Photo courtesy of the Boston Pops

 

The excitement for multiple Grammy award-winning singer CeCe Winans was tangible.   Dressed in a black and multi-colored floral gown, Cece Winans took the stage to roaring applause.  CeCe Winans is a flawless soprano whose vocal tone at times is reminiscent of Whitney Houston.  CeCe and Whitney collaborated together for the uplifting song, Count on Me in 1996.  With a joyful warmth and tenderness and as the Boston Pops Gospel Choir swayed and clapped, CeCe performed an array of faith-filled songs from her latest album, Let Them Fall in Love such as Run to Him, Dancing in the Spirit, Peace from God, Never Have to Be Alone, and the title track.  “Welcome to church,” CeCe exclaimed as she gracefully took the stage.  Many of her songs spoke about finding hope in despair, forgiveness, and in the state of the world today, how much we are in need prayer.  She concluded with a beautiful cover of Fanny Crosby’s hymn, Blessed Assurance, bringing the crowd to their feet.

Featuring a number impassioned performances from talented soloists, Charles Floyd continued to lead the Boston Pops Gospel Choir.  Soloist Suzanne Buell and Raymond Martin opened with upbeat, jubilant renditions of Celebrate followed by Carolyn Saxon and David Grandy singing King of Kings.  A particular highlight was Katani Sumner’s powerful, expressive, and bluesy rendition of When Sunday Comes.  Katani’s smooth version of the song hinted of Ella Fitzgerald in its delivery.

Each year, Gospel Night offers a grand, spirit-fueled finale.  Led by The Boston Pops Gospel Choir Artistic Director Dennis L. Slaughter, it is a party that could go all night long, if only they could.  One of the biggest highlights of the evening came from soloist Renese King, who sang a tambourine-infused, rollicking rendition of the classic Gospel hymn, Oh Happy Day.  Oh, Happy 25th Anniversary indeed.

The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow’s David Tanklefsky talks songwriting and Passim’s campfire.festival

David Tanklefsky of the band Whiskey Treaty Roadshow is just one in a wide array of dynamic musicians making their way to Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the 19th annual Memorial Day campfire.festival from Friday, May 26 through Sunday, May 29.  An interactive music festival presented “in the round,” featured artists interact with each other and the crowd, often improvising and exchanging songs during the weekend.  What often results is the unexpected.  Click here for the full list of featured musicians and for tickets.

The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow’s David Tanklefsky talks about Whiskey’s unique songwriting, the Beatles, and their touring adventures.  Click here to see their award-winning, short documentary and follow them on Facebook.

Sleepless Critic:  You’ll be at Club Passim for the campfire.festival Memorial Day weekend before the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow will make an appearance at Club Passim on Friday, July 14.  You’ve played the venue as well as campfire.festival before.  I understand it is quite an improvisational, interactive music experience.

David Tanklefsky:  I’ve done campfire a few times. This will be my first time playing there with my friend Hayley Sabella, who is terrific. Passim is a special place and we are lucky to have it in the area.  It seems like as less money is available to go around in the music world, the relationship between musicians and venues has become more of transaction.  Passim is the opposite. They are unique and truly care about developing musicians and giving them a platform for being heard.

SC:  How did the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow form and how did you meet?

DT:  Tory Hanna is really the conduit through which the band came together.  One of my best friends, who I was in a band with for years growing up, was living in a loft in Brooklyn with Tory and we started hanging out through him.  His wife Susie went to high school with Greg Smith and Tory knew Billy Keane through the Berkshires music world.  Billy had played a few shows with Chris Merenda and was a big fan of his old band, The Mammals. It happened very naturally, which I think is the best way for creative groups to get together.

The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow

The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow on tour Photo courtesy of Tim Bradley

SC:  Whose idea was the award-winning, short documentary and how did you decide on the details to the documentary?  It features lots of scenic, peaceful views of different areas of Massachusetts.

DT:  Tory grew up with a filmmaker named Tim Bradley who was looking for a new documentary project.  Tim captured our rehearsals for a four night tour we had organized through Massachusetts.  It was our first time playing together as a group.

Watching it now is such fun because it’s a snapshot of a band just starting out without any expectations beyond playing four great shows.  Tim meticulously planned out all the locations and the amazing videography.  When Tory mentioned his friend wanted to film us, I trusted his judgment but never imagined Tim would come up with such a well-crafted film.  It really helped catapult us into being a real band.

SC:  You have a relaxed sound, a rhythm likened to a drive down a peaceful country road.  You have a bit of a country tinge to some of your music.  Was that planned?  How did you end up conforming to a sound?

DT:  In folk music, there are songs and chord progressions that become seared into your soul over time. We’ve never had a discussion about it, but everyone brings songs to the table that we think will work with our instrumentation and vocal abilities. I think the folk/country/Americana textures come from having many stringed instruments on stage and the collaborative spirit of just sitting around, passing the guitar, and sharing songs.

SC:  Folk music is full of rich stories and each of you has a distinct style.  How do you come up with your songs?  Do you write a song together or are the songs bits of each songwriter or one song written by one another?

DT:  In this project, everyone writes independently and then brings songs to the table in various forms of completeness. We’ve been tinkering with different instrumentation and having some songs with more minimal arrangements as it has evolved.  We ask ourselves, ‘Do we need five people strumming away like mad men through this whole song?’  Often the answer is no. In the next few months, we’re planning to do a little songwriting retreat where we write more actively together for the first time, which will be new, exciting, and hopefully fruitful.

SC:  Where did your love for songwriting start?  Your particular songwriting style has a bit of humor with some rich lyrics and a bit of an unpredictable tempo at times.

DT:  When I was 10, I had an unhealthy obsession with the for three years straight.  I thought they were a perfect band.  My friends and I went as the Beatles for Halloween every year between ages 10 and 13. No one wanted to be Ringo and no one was left-handed like Paul so we were four kids with mushroom cuts and right-handed cardboard guitars.

Later I became inspired by songwriters that are always growing, pushing, and challenging their listeners.  I think Paul Simon is the gold standard for that.  I’m in awe of the insatiable curiosity he taps into and I try to write from a position of newness like that.  Being unaware of where my curiosity will take me but trying to just follow it through.

SC:  I understand you are touring.  What kind of venue would be an ideal place for you to play?

DT:  It was a huge thrill to perform with Woody Guthrie’s granddaughter Sarah Lee. That’s way up on the list.

We’ve had the opportunity to play some amazing old theatres over the last year or so. We loved the Academy of Music in Northampton and the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.  It was total thrill to sell out Mass MOCA, but some of our best shows have been in how-did-we-end-up-here type places too.

We played a last minute show in Cambridge in March at a really tiny place in Central Square and it was packed in with people standing on tables, total chaos.  The bouncer was adamant that no one else could come in because it was too packed.  One person left outside was our drummer, Jimmy.  He came in the back door and was kicked back out onto the street. We said, ‘But that’s the drummer!’  The bouncer replied, ‘I don’t care, I said no more!’  Eventually we brokered a deal and Jimmy was allowed inside and the show went on.  Theatre and dive bar are both okay in our book.

SC:  What are the Whiskey Treaty Roadshow’s future plans?

DT:  Our new EP is almost done and we are in high-level band discussions about a run of shows in the fall to support its release. We did it with an awesome engineer named Marc Seedorf at Barnhouse Studios in Chicopee, Massachusetts. We had to take a month break from recording because he was on tour with Dinosaur Jr. as their guitar tech and he got to play a few songs each night with them.  He’s our new hero.

Click here for more information and tickets to Passim’s campfire.festival at Club Passim, 47 Palmer Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, conveniently located in Harvard Square.  Not only a haven for music lessons, Passim offers live concerts nearly 365 days a year featuring Grammy winners to musicians with a dream.  Click here for their music schedule and follow Passim on Facebook and Twitter.

Barenaked Ladies, Jake Owen, and Local CountryFest part of Indian Ranch’s summer season

As the days lengthen and the temperature rises, the first summer concert at Indian Ranch will soon arrive.  With beautiful scenery overlooking Webster Lake in Webster, Massachusetts, Indian Ranch not only offers their annual Yuengling summer concert series and Indian Princess Cruises, but is also available for private parties, weddings, and much more.  Indian Ranch will offer a closer look at their open house on Sunday, May 21 at 11 a.m.  Call 1-508-943-3871 or click here for more information!

Indian Ranch view

Indian Ranch outdoor concert venue/Courtesy of Indian Ranch

Indian Ranch Open Hous

Get a closer look at Indian Ranch at their Open House on Sunday, May 21/Courtesy of Indian Ranch

Indian Ranch summer series, from June through September, will deliver a variety of live concerts in comedy, country, rock, and much more.  Kick off the season with return of Canadian rock comedy band, Barenaked Ladies (June 18).  Pat Benatar and Neil Girardo (July 23), The Mavericks (July 16), Huey Lewis and the News (June 24), and Eddie Money (July 15) are just a few of the popular artists taking the stage this summer.  A number of country artists will perform including Jake Owen (Sept 24), The Marshall Tucker Band (June 25), Big & Rich (July 9), Josh Turner (July 30), Phil Vassar (Aug 6), Montgomery Gentry (Sept 17), The Charlie Daniels Band (Sept 9), Dwight Yoakam (Aug 13), and Hunter Hayes (Aug 19).

Indian Ranch Local Country Fest

Indian Ranch will debut their Local CountryFest on Sept 16 Photo courtesy of Indian Ranch

Performances are still being added to the summer roster.  Check back for further updates.  Indian Ranch is located at 200 Gore Road in Webster, Massachusetts. This gorgeous venue is an ideal setting for campground sights, private events, and weddings.

Click here for tickets, more information, and VIP parking information. Like Indian Ranch on Facebook for updates, ticket information, and the full schedule of upcoming events.