Stories & Cast Interviews
Meet Jose Luaces as Emilio Estefan in ON YOUR FEET!
I grew up in Miami, Florida. My sister and I are first generation Cuban American. Growing up in such a melting pot like Miami really gave me a love for diversity and sharing in others cultures. At home we speak Spanglish! Whatever word comes out fastest in either language is used. I started singing in church choir then got bitten by the theatre bug shortly after. If theatre didn’t come into my life I would probably be in marine science.
I can trace each individual experience that put me on the track I’m on today. I remember my friend in 6th grade who asked me to join him and audition for the school choir. Then I remember the other friend who made me accompany her for the high school musical auditions. It’s those simple moments that change the course of life.
I love telling stories and if they have a joke even better. Feeling an audience’s energy is exhilarating. Each audience is different, making each performance different and unique and special for that exact moment in time.
My high school drama teacher Mr. Jimmy Puig would always say “do your best and damn the rest”. That saying holds true in sooo many aspects of life. Fun fact the amazing Maria Bilbao who plays Gloria in the show also went to my high school in Miami, Coral Reef Senior High.
A friend of mine had done an early developmental reading of this show before it went to Broadway. I auditioned for the ensemble for the pre-broadway tryout but it didn’t work out. I had always had my eye on this story because it hits very close to home for me. Like the Estefan’s, my entire family also emigrated from Cuba. You hear so many parallel stories about how different people came to this country but really every family has those stories even if it’s dating back generations.
I had never done the show before but I remember seeing the excellent actor Josh Segarra play Emilio on Broadway and wanting to do that role when the time was right. My favorite moment in the show is where we are in an airport and you see Emilio watch himself in a flashback scene the day he left Cuba. The way this scene is staged by the wonderful Donna Drake is magic.
This is my first show here WBT of what I hope to be many more. I enjoy the thrust stage because it allows you to be closer to the audience and to tell these stories more intimately.
Playing Emilio is definitely a dream role. Others include the M.C. In Cabaret and Hedwig in Hedwig and The Angry Inch.
My favorite shows tend to be plays. The best play I ever saw was August Osage County on Broadway. I don’t sit thru anything for 3 and a half hours but I was on the edge of my seat the entire time with that play. I also happened the see the Barrow Group's Our Town directed by David Cromer that same week and that moved me immensely, to the point that I called my parents at 11:30 pm right after the show and told them I loved them. Theatre has so much power to move people.
I tend to do yoga frequently it helps me feel centered. If I had a yard I would definitely have a garden, for now, house plants are my outlet for that. I really enjoy trying interesting foods. Love diving into other cultures cuisine and finding the most authentic version of that in NYC.
My music taste is weird and too eclectic. Usually while walking around Manhattan I’ll be listening to the Edith Piaf station on Pandora. It makes New York have a little of that Parisian magic. Other times it’s on Nat King Cole station. I also love to Kiki with some House Music, or my recent find, artist Dayme Arocena, she’s an Afro Cuban Jazz singer.
Meet Karmine Alers as Gloria Fajardo in ON YOUR FEET!
I was born and raised in Spanish Harlem at 116th Street and 3rd Avenue. I have two sisters and two brothers. I am the youngest of five.
I always loved watching old movies with my mom and dad. So when a movie about the life of Judy Garland came on, and they called her the little girl with the big voice... I thought to myself, I want to do that one day! I loved her way of performing.
I did the show from Its second reading all the way to the Broadway run. I became a swing on Broadway. When the show closed and went out on tour, I was in the singing ensemble understudying the roles of Gloria Fajardo and Consuelo.
This is my first time here at WBT. I love the stage, cast, crew, and the patrons. All have been welcoming and sweet.
I have so many favorite shows. From Rent, Spring Awakening, Dear Evan Hanson and so many more. I love them all for different reasons. I’d love to play Heidi Hanson in Dear Evan Hanson. She seems like just the right amount of broken.
When I'm not on stage, I enjoy swimming, boating with my boyfriend, watching old movies, and playing word games.
I have all sorts of stuff on my iPod. But my favorite station is Ella Fitzgerald on Pandora. It puts me in a great place.
Pre-Opening behind the scenes!
ON YOUR FEET! 5/30 - 8/4 ONSTAGE AT WBT!
About On Your Feet
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.