Gloria Estefan Talks Autobiographical Musical, On Your Feet!: "You'll Laugh, Cry, and Dance"

Gloria Estefan Talks Autobiographical Musical, On Your Feet!: "You'll Laugh, Cry, and Dance"

"Come on, shake your body, baby, do the conga."

That's what Miami's Cuban princess Gloria Estefan demands of you when she, her husband Emilio, and the Nederlander Organization bring the Estefans' autobiographical musical, On Your Feet! to Broadway next fall.

"I'm so excited!" la cantante expresses. "We have a dream team working on it. Everything has fallen into place so beautifully. We're all so excited about the entire process."

See also: Gloria Estefan Inducted Into Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame: "I Am So Honored and Blessed"

The Estefans with writer Alexander Dinelaris (left) and director Jerry Mitchell (center).
The Estefans with writer Alexander Dinelaris (left) and director Jerry Mitchell (center).
Photo by Bruce Glikas

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Directed by Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell, written by two-time Drama Desk nominee Alexander Dinelaris, and choreographed by Jersey Boys' Sergio Trujillo, On Your Feet! tells the story of the Estefans journey to freedom, their rise to international fame, and their role in launching the careers of Marc Anthony, Shakira, and other Latin music giants.

The play also touches on darker times, like the 1990 tour bus wreck that almost left Gloria paralyzed, a turning point in the Latin Songwriter Hall of Famer's life.

"In our lives, both Emilio and I have had to constantly get back on our feet," she says. "We had to fight people that kept telling us our music wouldn't work and then I literally had to get back on my feet physically after the accident. It all works on the title, On Your Feet!

"Ultimately, it's a love story between Emilio and myself, this country, and music," the singer explains. "The whole is meant to make the audience laugh, cry, and dance."

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Although fans will have to wait till November 2015 to watch the Estefans tale unfold under the flashy lights of Broadway, the idea of producing a play has been underway for several years.

"We had been working with something of this nature for ten years," Estefan admits. "The Nederlander [Organization in Chicago] actually approached Emilio 25 years ago.

"At the time, we weren't talking about our own story. He [James M. Nederlander, the company's chairman] wanted to do something on Latin music culture, but we just couldn't at the time. His son, Jimmy Jr. [the theater group's current president], is now spearheading the whole effort, but Jimmy Sr. is still involved."

With a decision made to bring those ideas to fruition, it later became a matter of picking the right people to work on the project.

"Alex [Dinelaris] was the first writer we met," Estefan recalls. "We've been working with him for almost three years. His angle and the way he approaches the whole story blew us away.

"The same thing happened with Jerry Mitchell. He was the first one who was brought to us. It was a very easy decision. You can't get better than Jerry, and the way his brain works and his extensive knowledge of Broadway, it's amazing."

And since the production is based on, you know, Latin music legends, Gloria assures the play's "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" and make you do the "Conga" all night.

"I think people are gonna be surprised how the music is used," she says. "It's almost as if the songs had been written for the play.

"It's been a labor of love. We're all very excited."

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