On Your Feet!, the musical of the life and music of Gloria and Emilio Estefan now playing at the Oriental Theatre through July 5, reminds me of one of my favorite lessons: You are never going to be any better than yourself. And the moment you change who you are for someone else, you disempower yourself.
The story opens with a gentle exclaim: "It's fruitcake weather!" Sook, a 60-something Southern woman, and Buddy, a young boy, embark on their yearly Christmas ritual: baking holiday fruitcakes. The tenderness between the two, locked together in a Depression-era world, is the essence of A Christmas Memory.
She's bawdy and brash, tender and vulnerable; she's graceful and klutzy, commanding and helpless. She's a singer who hits every vocal nuance, whether serious or satiric; a high-energy dancer who could probably double as a contortionist; a comic who draws roars from pratfalls, subtle glances, punchlines and sensuality.