Podcast guest Eric Ulloa shares how the impact of the Broadway production On Your Feet! will last long after its closing performance today.
When I first moved to NYC, I remember something that caught my eye and shed new light onto this business of show I had come from Florida to pursue. I was walking by a theatre that still had all it’s decor up outside, yet the lobby lay dormant. Affixed to the glass on all four doors were8.5 by 11 sheets of paper notifying me that the production that once played this house came to a close about a month earlier. Broadway, a place of magic and Rosie O’Donnell Show guest appearances, had an expiration date.
The show didn’t always go on.
This Monday, there will be signs on the box office doors of the Marriott Marquis Theatre alerting patrons that “On Your Feet! played its final performance on August 20, 2017.”
My friend’s faces will come off of the breezeway as the Marquis begins the transition from Mojitos to Margaritas and the sounds of Jimmy Buffett.
The sets will be torn down and packaged, as the show begins a touring and international life.
Soon the theatre will be a blank canvas, as if nothing ever occurred within its walls.
Do you hear that though? Listen closely…
There’s a deep, rich sound pounding out through the doors of the theatre. The sound of a Conga being banged out in the direct mimic of a heartbeat. A pulse. The magic of Broadway.
For you see, the memories of what we experienced in these almost two years are forever drummed into every inch of the Marquis.
From the moment you walk through the stage door it will overwhelm you.
You’ll feel the joy so many of us felt as we made our Broadway debuts, some of them 20 years in the making. A cast (the largest in fact) of proud Latinos telling an authentic latino story with no apologies.
You’ll smile from the engagements, marriages and new babies born, expanding our already giant family. You’ll feel the pain as we comforted each other through injuries and breakups and deaths within our own families. Deaths that even took one of our shows characters, Gloria Fajardo, from this mortal world into the immortal legacy of this musical and the celebration of her life and struggles.
Cross the threshold, hop onto that stage and you’ll feel the passion of our dancers, as they threw their bodies into every move with abandon and everything they physically had within them. Their authenticity transporting you from Broadway stage to Cuba and the fall of Batista on that infamous night in history.
You’ll hear the rally cry of “Cuba Libre” still echoing in the rafters mixed alongside the cheers of an audience celebrating Emilio as he declared nightly that he “is what an American looks like.”
During a tumultuous period in our country’s history, we served as a reminder that the American Dream exists and belongs to anyone who seeks it out. Not just through the story of Gloria and Emilio, but through the performers that told their story nightly.
For buried deep in the fabric of the chairs of the Marquis, you’ll find hope.
Hope that one day you’ll walk to an open call from your job at a bank and be cast in your Broadway debut. Hope that you’ll come from a different country and be able to inspire a younger generation to do the same eight times a week. Hope that one day you’ll get to hear your father tell you, as mine told me, “Who was gonna tell this refugee from Hialeah that his son was going to be on Broadway?”
The beat goes on…the rhythm continues…and our legacy is now a part of history.