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Writer Alexander Dinelaris talks with Gloria Estefan during a rehearsal for ‘On Your Feet!’, the new Gloria and Emilio Estefan jukebox musical. Photo: Mark Abramson for The Wall Street Journal


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‘Birdman’ writer Alexander Dinelaris tells the high-energy tale of Gloria Estefan’s rise in ‘On Your Feet!’

By Lizzie Simon
Oct. 29, 2015 7:17 p.m. ET

“On Your Feet!,” the Gloria and Emilio Estefan jukebox musical, isn’t the follow-up project one would expect from one of the Oscar-winning screenwriters of “Birdman.” But Alexander Dinelaris, who nabbed an Academy Award for what was perhaps the most critically acclaimed film of 2014, is the book writer behind this season’s high-energy tale of Ms. Estefan’s spectacular rise, in previews now for a Nov. 5 opening.

As a form, the jukebox musical, wherein tunes from a famous artist’s songbook reassemble into narrative, isn’t known for the kind of nuance or formal innovation so apparent in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film. But Mr. Dinelaris, who also wrote the book for Whitney Houston’s jukebox musical, “The Bodyguard,” has applied a couple of novel approaches in “On Your Feet!”

He has taken the songs out of the timeline in which they were written and put them where their lyrics fit best storywise. And, after making room for Ms. Estefan’s biggest commercial hits—such as “Conga” and “Rhythm is Gonna Get You”—he went deep into her 250-plus song catalog and pulled out a handful of little-known tunes only ardent superfans will recognize...........


FORBES Gloria and Emilio Estefan Bring Their Story and Savvy to Broadway By Lee Seymour / November 2, 2015


FORBES: Gloria and Emilio Estefan Bring Their Story and Savvy to Broadway

Gloria and Emilio Estefan: married 37 years and stronger than ever.

“What I want to share is the real truth of our life,” Emilio Estefan says of On Your Feet! the new Broadway musical about him and his wife, Gloria. “People think you just become famous overnight. It doesn’t work like that.”

I don’t quite catch it – Emilio retains a thick Cuban accent, and I sheepishly ask him to repeat himself. Gloria chimes in to take the pressure off: “If you think it’s tough understanding him now, you should have heard him talk to Miles Davis.”

We’re sitting in an air-conditioned hideaway in the Marquis theater, where the show is in previews. It’s a bit cool, but Emilio and Gloria are bundled up as though the theater were an igloo, and seem awed by my Boston-bred tolerance for the chill. “In Miami, we need coats for being indoors.”

Reception for On Your Feet! has been positive so far, critically and financially, with solid buzz and a place in the $1 Million Club as of last week. The duo are hard at work honing the show for its opening night on November 5th, and our conversation orbits the challenges of putting one’s own life story onstage. Fittingly, it’s punctuated by anecdotes about the luminaries they’ve worked with and inspired along the way.

“We were at the Grammys one year, sitting next to Miles,” Gloria continues, noting the jazz legend’s infamously raspy voice. ”Miles loved ‘Conga,’ he loved the complex, syncopated rhythms under the pop song, and was raving about it, and both of them were kind of yelling across me. Then they’d each lean in and say, ‘Please translate!’ Neither of them could understand a thing the other was saying.”

When interviewing Gloria and Emilio, one has the sense of sitting with a finely honed comedy duo, who finish each other’s punchlines, jokes and stories without missing a beat. Or to put it another way, a successful and long-lasting marriage. Which it is: 37 years, to be precise. Downright eternal compared to many of their tabloid-fodder peers in the music industry.

It’s also been a massively successful business partnership. Long before Jay-Z and Beyonce teamed up, Emilio was producing Gloria’s music with the Miami Sound Machine, selling millions of records, and winding up with an combined estimated net worth between $500 million and $700 million. (Emilio remains cheekily obtuse when prodded, saying, “Some of the estimates I hear are true, and some are not.”

So why a Broadway musical? While the show is doing well so far, it’s a drop in the bucket for the duo’s finances, and even in a best case scenario it will be years before On Your Feet! could rival something like Wicked as a billion-dollar enterprise. The simple truth is that the Estefans, like most producers, aren’t in it (just) for the money.

“I want to give the audience something they can take away,” Emilio says, referencing not just the show but show business in general. “It’s about the journey,” Gloria adds. “Seeing a live performance – that human connection – it’s unique. If someone’s going through similar struggles, and they see that in the scenes from our show, we can help empower them.”

“This is also what we do,” she continues. “I have a great respect for people who sing, dance and act live,” as opposed to pop stars who lip sync or exist primarily on screens. “ I’ve always loved Broadway. We brought our kids up on it.” (Incidentally, their daughter, Emily, penned the only new song in the show.) This ethos of uncompromised connection is the through-line of their storied career. In fact, one could look at this Broadway biopic as the only natural next step for the couple who have conquered much of the entertainment industry, often against huge odds. ................


THEATERMANIA Josh Segarra on Becoming Emilio Estefan for the New Gloria Estefan Musical ‘On Your Feet!’ Zachary Stewart/November 2, 2015



Hours before curtain at the new Gloria Estefan bio-musical, On Your Feet!, Josh Segarra can be found stretching out on a camouflage foam roller on the floor of his dressing room at the Marquis Theatre. "Bro, it's kind of like a deep tissue massage that you give yourself," he explains. Having just hit the gym, he's not taking any chances on sore legs during this two-hour-fifteen-minute musical infused with Sergio Trujillo's athletic Latin choreography.

Segarra plays Emilio Estefan, husband of Gloria, who's played by Ana Villafañe. They lead a cast of 30 while portraying two of pop music's biggest icons. Segarra takes both jobs very seriously, speaking at length about his deep respect for the Estefans. At the same time, chatting with him is like talking to a high school basketball coach before the big game, an attitude that perhaps lingers from his Broadway debut, the basketball-themed musical comedy Lysistrata Jones. A framed poster for that show faces the minibar. The motto from the high school football drama Friday Night Lights adorns the wall next to the door: "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose." It's the last thing Segarra sees before going out to do a show.

He spoke with TheaterMania about his relationship with the Estefans and about what On Your Feet! means to him as a Latino actor.

You do a lot of dancing in this show. Do you consider yourself a dancer?
No way, dude. I grew up in a house where we danced all the time, because we're Puerto Rican. I have rhythm, but I'm not a trained dancer. The guys in this show are ridiculously good. Sergio Trujillo is a beast, dude. You've got someone like Carlos Gonzalez in the show: Carlos came here from Cuba when he was a kid and he's living out his dream on that stage. You can't teach the way he dances. It's in his bones.

And it's not in your bones?
Bro, the show is about a Latin guy who had to fight through trials and tribulations, stuck to the girl he loved, and created an empire. He changed the world. I haven't done that yet, but I do know that I came from a mother and father who moved to the States from Puerto Rico with not much more than degrees in pharmacy. They opened a pharmacy, weren't making very much money, but they had three kids; they sent me to NYU. They're living the American dream. They're reaping the benefits of taking that big leap. So in a way, it is in my bones. I get to say some stuff in this show that is very pertinent to my life.

Like what?
There's a scene with a record executive in which he tells us we're not back home in Cuba. I get to look him in the face and say, "This is what an American looks like." It's such an apt line for the time we're in: Our country is changing. I no longer have to be defined by my ethnicity. I don't only have to play drug dealers and gangsters. I hold Emilio near and dear to my heart. He's become a very important person in my life because he's the avenue though which I get to tell this story.

He's a famously shrewd businessman. Is this your first time playing a role like that?
Yeah, bro: Where he's got that money glow? This is my first time playing someone like that. That's a fun little trip to go on every night. He's a multimillionaire, but he and Gloria have never forgotten where they came from. He would give you the shirt off his back. I walked into rehearsal one day and he was like [lapsing into his Emilio voice], "Hey, you want some sneakers?" He came back with some shoes for Ana and me. He didn't have to do that. He wants us to be comfortable. He likes his memory-foam shoes, so he wants us to like our memory-foam shoes.

You've clearly found his accent.
Dude, I wish I could tell you a really cool story about it, but I've been doing that accent since I was a kid. My family talks like that. When I first got the part I called my uncle and had him read through the script, just in case I picked up anything new.

Is the Cuban accent vastly different than the Puerto Rican accent?
It comes down to consonants.

Click below to hear Josh Segarra demonstrate the difference between the Cuban and Puerto Rican dialects: I understand that you're a huge WWE fan. I believe that it is the most successful theatrical enterprise on earth. It absolutely is. When wrestling tickets sell out in thirty minutes, I'm one of the guys buying tickets. That's how this all started for me. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a pro wrestler. Other kids wanted to be cops and astronauts, but I wanted to be Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, and Jake "The Snake." I wanted to be those guys! I used to tape matches on my trampoline and body-slam my brother. I used to paint my face, hold fake title belts, and have my mom interview me in the kitchen. That was all preparing for this, bro.

Dancing in a Broadway show is about as physically strenuous as professional wrestling. Does going to the gym scare you — the thought that you might pull something? Nah, I'm more bummed that I can't play basketball every Tuesday and Thursday. I got screamed at by my manager the other day because I was playing in a Wiffle ball tournament. I was like, "Dude, it's Wiffle ball!" He said, "Josh, if you get hurt playing Wiffle ball, the show is done." So it's a bummer, but you know: first-world problems. Every day I get to pretend to be a millionaire, fall in love with a girl, and have people clap for me. I love it and I wouldn't trade it for anything. ................


W MAGAZINE (ONLINE) On The Verge: Ana Villafañe Reaches for the Stars Vanessa Lawrence/November 2, 2015


W MAGAZINE (ONLINE) On The Verge: Ana Villafañe Reaches for the Stars

The rising star talks about her Broadway Debut It might seem like Ana Villafañe was plucked from obscurity on some Miami street corner to maker her Broadway debut as Gloria Estefan in the musical biopic On Your Feet! After all, the real life Estefan and her husband, Emilio, both producers of the show which opens on November 5th at the Marquis Theatre, held two open casting calls and even encouraged aspiring actors to submit their auditions via social media with the hashtag #ReachGloria. But Villafañe is quick to point out that she landed the role after eight years of toiling in the Los Angeles film and television trenches and that in practically every respect it represents an affirmation of her drive.

“I was sick of going on all of these TV auditions in L.A. for, like, the pregnant girl, a teenager—and she’s Latina! Or the maid—and she’s Latina! I was done,” says the 26 year-old. “It’s amazing to be honoring the legacy of someone who reshaped the image of a what a Latina woman is.”
Indeed, the show, with a book penned by the Oscar winner Alexander Dinelaris, chronicles Estefan’s quest to convince producers and the world as a whole that she had more to offer than Latin party tracks. At its heart, On Your Feet! is an American Dream immigrant tale—set, of course, to Estefan’s greatest hits.

It’s easy to see why the iconic songstress hand-picked Villafañe from thousands of young women to embody her on stage. The daughter of a Cuban mother and a Salvadorian father, the actress was raised in Miami on a steady diet of musical theater—she had her first professional gig at 9 in a regional production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat and was discovered by a manager while performing Cats at 17—and Estefan’s music. “Reach was my power song,” she says. She even attended the same high school as the singer, Our Lady of Lourdes Academy Catholic school.

“I didn’t have to research what Cuban food tastes like, what it feels like to have your Cuban grandmother micromanage your life. I know what that is,” says Villafañe, who grilled Estefan on her personal life and meticulously studied her musical style to deliver a performance that is authentic, not a caricature. “There are a lot of people waiting for me to fail. I know that. But not her.”

Still, such deep immersion in Gloria-world does have one tiny drawback—the prospect that it might end. Villafañe recently discovered this while on a break between the show’s summer run in Chicago and rehearsals for the Broadway previews in New York.

“I was back to being normal Ana all the time and I wasn’t being Gloria once a day. And I was like, Oh my god, I have no purpose in life, what is this? I felt so powerless,” she says. “It was like a humility pill, like, alright, that high is not always going to be there.”


CBS News / November 1, 2015

Gloria Estefan: Caught by the rhythm

The 1987 hit "Anything for You" by the legendary Gloria Estefan is now ON BROADWAY. A new musical based on her life is currently in previews. Her path to center stage wasn't always an easy one, as she tells our Lee Cowan:

Back in the '80s, few knew what "Latin crossover" really meant in music, until this happened:

Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine became one of the decade's signature sounds.

It's no easy feat to make the conga more than just a wedding reception ritual. But Gloria did that, and much more.

She was polished, poppy, and popular. She's had more than 100 hits across the Billboard charts, brought home seven Grammys, and sold more than 100 million albums.

These days, Estefan is at a different stage in her life, literally. At 58 the Queen of Latin pop is seeing her life turned into a mega-watt Broadway musical, "On Your Feet."

"Is it what you expected?" Cowan asked.

"I don't think I ever could have imagined what this was going to be like," she replied. "I never would have imagined it would be so emotional."

"It's very personal."

"Oh my gosh, so much so."


They talked, and soon found out they had a lot more in common. She and Gloria both are Cuban-American, both grew up in Miami, and -- get this -- they both went to the very same Catholic high school (a few years apart, mind you).

"I remember Gloria coming to visit school," Villafañe said, "when you did the children's book 'Noel's Treasure Hunt.'"

"Yes! You were here for that?"

"Oh yes, and fun fact, I walked to where we are right now and there was a table and I was with my mom. You signed a book for me. I've never told you that!"

During a recent visit to their alma mater, the music made the years between them fade away. There they were, two products of immigrant families who had gone on to make it big.

"It really irks me when I hear someone say that the American Dream is dead, because that cannot be further from the truth," Estefan said. "This is one of the few countries in the world that doesn't put limitations on you. Only you put them on yourself. If you're willing to work hard, and persevere and follow your dreams and your passion and get ready to get a lot of no's and find your way around those no's, this is the dream place to do that."

Her partner in that dream is the only man she ever dated: her husband, multi-Grammy-winning producer Emilio Estefan...................


ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY Stage: On Your Feet! November 6 issue



PARADE MAGAZINE Personality Parade: Gloria Estefan By Walter Scott Sunday, November 1 issue



MANHATTAN MAGAZINE NYC SOUND MACHINE: Pop diva Gloria Estefan brings her musical On Your Feet to Broadway By Frank DiLella / November 2015 issue



OCEAN DRIVE MAGAZINE (MIAMI) Letter from the Editor In Chief By Jared Shapiro/ November 2015 Issue




BROADWAY.COM Watch Gloria Estefan & Her On Your Feet Counterpart Ana Villafane Reveal How They Crossed Paths Years Ago Ryan McPhee/November 2, 2015



The story of how Gloria and Emilio Estefan met and conga’d their way into musical iconography is the center of attention in On Your Feet!, now in previews at Broadway’s Marquis Theatre. The two superstars recently sat down with CBS News to discuss how the musical encapsulates the American Dream. While the show certainly displays the challenges the pair faced as Cuban Americans, according to Gloria, its message is all about unity: “I’m hoping that [audiences] realize how much more similar we all are than just merely celebrating our differences.” In the segment, Gloria and her on-stage counterpart, newcomer Ana Villafañe, visit the Catholic High School that they both attended, and Villafañe reveals that long before she landed her dream job of playing Gloria Estefan, the two crossed paths at a book signing. Check it all out below. On Your Feet! opens officially on November 5.

Video Link - https://youtu.be/DP1kd62Q6KI