Stories & Cast Interviews
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.
Meet Patrick Tombs as Crutchie in Newsies!
I grew up in Binghamton, NY. It’s a small city in the Southern Tier. It’s known for having the most depressing weather ever! It’s gray and raining much of the time. I have four siblings - I’m second to youngest. My parents were always really supportive of us - whether it was sports, music lessons, all that stuff. My parents are still incredibly supportive and I’ll always be grateful for them.
I wanted to be an actor since I was little. My parents gave me and my siblings an immense appreciation for the arts. We had a tradition around Christmas: We would all camp out in the living room and watch 'The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.’ It’s this INCREDIBLE piece of theatre, 8 hours long, directed by Trevor Nunn, performed by Roger Rees and the Royal Shakespeare Company. I know that I’m an actor because of that show.
Another pivotal moment in my life was my first musical, at 15, ’Titanic, the musical.’ There was this wonderful program at Binghamton University called ’The Summer Youth Musical Theater Program,’ and it was kind of the place to be if you were a theater kid. You spent several weeks training and rehearsing a show as if it was professional. The standards were high. The stage director, Jim Lortz, was the first person to teach me anything about acting. He’s one of the most amazing, loving, kind people you will ever meet. He’s become a friend and mentor over the years, and you can see his students all over Broadway and the world.
I’m really lucky to have many people in my life that have been mentors and invested in me artistically, spiritually, emotionally, and even financially. I couldn’t possibly name them all, but I think of my dear friend Judy Berry, who was my voice teacher for years and guided me through several tragedies. More recently, I’m grateful to have my acting coach, Scott Robertson. He’s a real giant of a man, and I feel so free to grow and be weird with him.
I remember hearing about NEWSIES when it was running at Papermill Playhouse. I saw some of the promo videos and was really impressed! I knew I’d play Crutchie someday.
I have done the show once before. Last year I was Crutchie in the production at Axelrod Performing Arts Center on the Jersey Shore. I had such a good time!! The creative team was out of this world, and are some of my favorite people to work with.
I am familiar with the movie. I didn’t grow up watching it like a lot of kids my age, but it was on the radar. I think it’s great to take a film and rework it for the stage! With shows like Once, The Band’s Visit, Newsies, and The Lion King being such hits, how could you not love it?
Les Miz has been my favorite show for as long as I can remember! I’m really bad at picking favorites, so I probably won’t ever feel differently.
I’m so lucky - Crutchie was one of my dream roles, and so was Quasimodo in Hunchback of Notre Dame, and I was able to do both roles last year. Moving forward, I really want to be Marius in Les Miz, Tobias in Sweeney Todd, Boq in Wicked, Evan in Dear Evan Hansen, and Smike in Nicholas Nickleby (if they ever revive it). And those are just for the next decade or so! I have another list of roles I want to play when I’m older. What excites me, even more, is the possibility of creating new roles.
I’m a big old coffee snob, so I’m always hunting for that amazing espresso place. I love to cook when I have time. I also enjoy listening to and playing music - I’ve played the cello since I was 7 years old.
I’m all over the place musically. Right now I’m really into Mumford and Sons - their lyrics rip into my heart. I also love Coldplay, Queen, Bastille, Nothing But Thieves, Sister Hazel, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. Ed Sheeran has some great songs too.
Meet Alec Cohen as Davey in Newsies!
I grew up in New Jersey about 35 minutes away from New York City. My whole family is from Westchester though! I was always traveling into the city as a kid, one to escape the suburbs and two to get great training.
I think community drew me to become an actor. I always felt most comfortable with people in the arts. From an early age, conversation was easier and I always enjoyed the passion that creatives share. I decided pretty early on that I was going to be an actor and haven’t really stopped training since.
I believe I first found out about Newsies when I heard they were doing it at Papermill. I remember being a not so great dancer at 16 but skipping school to go to the open dancer call and getting cut first round. My mom took my headshot in the backyard. It was humbling!! I got my equity card with the show at Music theater Wichita in Kansas, the summer of 2017.
I like really irreverent shows. Ones with irony and a lot of heart. I love the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It is not pretending to be anything it’s not and it’s such a celebration of individuality and weirdness. I love that simplicity. On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, I think Cabaret is expertly written and so impactful. It shocks me and touches me every time I see it.
When I’m not performing, I’m doing a lot. I teach dance for students auditioning to be in college programs for musical theater, I do a lot of yoga, see a lot of drag shows and try to get to as many comedy shows as I can. I love living in New York City and really try to take advantage of as much as possible.
Meet Bruce Crilly as Nunzio/Roosevelt in Newsies!
I grew up in northern NJ in a family of 11 children. My oldest brother (now a priest) was a very talented young actor who had a fascination for old movies - particularly the silent film comedians. When I was VERY young, he would pull me into skits that mimicked classic old comedy routines. My first time on stage was as a River City kid in a production of The Music Man that he was per morning in.
My fist exposure to ‘Newsies’ was running the sound board for a production at Curtain Call Theater in Stamford, CT - but this will be my first time performing in a production of the show.
I am familiar with the movie and like most, I consider the stage musical an improvement. Assuming all such cross-overs were handled as well, I am all for the movie to stage transition.
I love Sondheim and my favorite Sondheim musical is Sweeney Todd. I have played the Beadle but I have always wanted to play Sweeney - though I am not the right type for the role. Another role I played when I was much younger was Tevye in Fiddler. Would love to play him again now that I am the right age!
When not on stage I enjoy singing, cartoon illustration, sampling great craft beer and spending time with my wife, friends and family.
This is my first production at WBT, and I hope I get to do one again.