SouthFlorida.com
Make every weekend epic with our free Weekender newsletter. Sign up today!

'On Your Feet,' the story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, opens at Miami's Arsht Center

Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s Broadway show will start its national tour in the same place that the story began: Miami.

“On Your Feet: The Emilio and Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical” will run Oct. 5-15 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts before hitting the road for 80 weeks. The show will play up to 30 other cities over the next year.

“For me, Miami represents coming home,” Emilio Estefan says in a telephone interview. “Most people here know this story. Everything was here. It’s the place we love. We never left Miami, so me and Gloria said. ‘When we open the tour, it has to be Miami.’ ”

The jukebox musical provides a behind-the-scenes look at the rise of seven-time Grammy winner Gloria to pop-music superstardom with the help of Emilio, her partner in business then partner in life. The show includes chart-toppers such as “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” “Oye,” “Conga,” “Don’t Want To Lose You Now,” “1-2-3” and “Coming Out of the Dark.” The show was written by Alexander Dinelaris (“The Bodyguard Musical” and the movie “Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”) was directed by Jerry Mitchell (“Kinky Boots,” “La Cage aux Folles,” “Legally Blonde”) and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo (“Memphis,” “Jersey Boys,” “Next to Normal”).

“Lucky for us, the guys really captured it,” says Emilio Estefan, a 19-time Grammy-winning producer. “Sometimes, you have chemistry with a producer or a writer, you hope for that, but we had it with everyone. [They] really captured every single thing. People today don’t know, unless you live it, they don’t know that we were told to, ‘Change your last name. Change that sound.’ And I said, ‘I’m not changing anything.’ And they said things like, ‘Go back to your country.’ We live in a time that it’s important that people need to feel proud of where they come from. And in Miami, they come from all over the world. And they feel inspired to come here and really do something, with a lot of sacrifice, to build something totally different. You can love the country you were born in. But I’m totally American. I’m Cuban-American, but I love this country where you have these opportunities. And where you don’t have to change your last name.”

That’s something that Christie Prades, who plays Gloria Estefan in the show, can identify with. She, too, is a Cuban-American from Miami.

“A lot of how she felt was in me,” Prades says. “I think that is part of being in the same culture, our families escaping from Castro.”

Prades understudied the role of Gloria during the Broadway run of “On Your Feet,” which closed Aug. 20 after 780 performances.

“The process I had on Broadway is very different than the process I had for the role on Broadway,” says Prades, who grew up in Westchester and attended Southwest Miami High School. “I definitely had to do my research through videos, looking at her mannerisms, little habits I tried to find.”

But for the national tour, Prades — and her co-star Mauricio Martinez, who plays Emilio — had access to the real-life couple in face-to-face meetings and dinners.

“I got to ask her, ‘Where was your head at when this happened, or what were you going through when you wrote these lyrics?’ ” Prades says. “She literally gave me permission to make my own choices. And I think that brought out a very human, relatable experience, because it was something everyone could imagine themselves feeling. I really had the luxury of building the character from nothing.”

Emilio Estefan says that getting his physicality down is one thing, but the real trick in portraying him is to get his rapid and energetic speech pattern down.

“I wake up in the morning full of life,” he says. “I’m very positive. And when I love something, I talk so fast, in English and Spanish and back again. Gloria always says, ‘You’re talking too fast. No one understands you.’ But [actors] can look at you, and I tell you it’s like looking at a movie. They capture every single move that you do. I can’t believe how well they have done it. They capture my true personality.”

He says the show captures the spirit of the music, as well.

“The way Alex [Dinelaris] used the music, I think he was the right one,” Emilio says. “I didn’t have to change anything. It’s a pleasure to work with someone you trust. We have a dream team.”

Estefan says the team is busy preparing productions to run across Europe and other continents. “I think there will be 11 countries,” he says. “And in different languages: French, Russian, Japanese. It’s Miami. It’s the power of the city. It’s a powerful city.”

Prades agrees: “I think the energy will be through the roof [in Miami]. I have to calm down a little. I feel a sense of pressure, but much more a sense of excitement, the fact that I’ve accomplished a dream. It’s literally the story of the Cuban people in Miami. I’m so lucky and happy to bring the story here that I can’t even speak.”

“On Your Feet: The Emilio and Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical” runs Oct. 5-15 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., in Miami. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 7 p.m. Sundays, with matinees 2 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $29-$200. To order, call 305-949-6722 or go to ArshtCenter.org.

rhagwood@southflorida.com

Copyright © 2017, South Florida
80°