About On Your Feet

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Posted by: Pia Haas on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at 12:00:00 am


On Your Feet is based on the lives and music of the Grammy Award-winning husband and wife team, Gloria and Emilio Estefan. The score is built around the Cuban-fusion pop music they made famous. Alexander Dinelaris, whose credits include the Academy Award-winning screenplay for “Birdman,” wrote the book. Both Gloria and Emilio left Cuba at an early age and met years later in Miami. Seeking a woman’s voice to join his early group, the Miami Latin Boys, Emilio Estefan found not only a star but also his wife. They had emigrated from Cuba to Miami to escape communist rule but remained devoted to the country’s music and culture. Gloria, the singer-songwriter entrepreneur has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. The Estefans inarguably were the first Florida-based Latin artists to really cross over into the English-speaking market for international pop. They won 26 Grammy awards between them.

Before talent agent Bernie Yuman suggested joining forces with the Nederlander organization in 2012, they had turned down a couple of proposals to create a musical. As a condition of their agreeing to go ahead with the show, the Estefans retained creative control. “It’s the perfect time to do a Latino story,” Emilio Estefan said. “More than that, it’s a story about the American dream.” Working on the musical caused Gloria to relive some painful, intense moments. “I got so emotional, I looked to my husband for support. He was crying like a baby already and I go, ‘God, are we going to do this? How are we going to do this?’ The connections that music makes are amazing…To me, it’s worth all the risks you take putting your life out there… Everything in the show is real, but it is done very theatrically and beautifully.”

They couldn’t have predicted how the conflict over immigration would heat up as it has. “The timing could not be more important to have the message out there about the positive contributions of immigrants,” Gloria Estefan said. “It’s a love story not just between him and me, it’s a love story to music and a love story to both our nations, the ones where we were born, Cuba, and the United States, that opened its arms to us,” the 61-year-old singer told Reuters. “I think our story is very much about dreams,” Emilio says. “People who come from different countries with proud heritages. It was very hard for us to get airplay — they wanted us to change our names. We struggled and I think we inspired minorities everywhere — not just from Cuba.” Gloria adds, “Music is the core. It got us, both Emilio and I, through our most difficult moments and it continues to enrich our lives.” She and Emilio have been married for 40 years.

After a pre-Broadway engagement in Chicago during the summer of 2015, On Your Feet! opened on Broadway on November 5, 2015. The Estefans were the executive producers. The musical is set to Estefan’s chart-topping, worldwide smash hits with one new original song written by her and their daughter, Emily Estefan. The musical received seven Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, three Drama League Award nominations and a Tony Award nomination for Best Choreography.

President Obama honored Estefan and her husband, Emilio, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is the nation’s highest civilian honor presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

*Including excerpts from a Reuters Interview with Gloria and Emilio Estefan.

 

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