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On Your Feet!
Photograph: Matthew Murphy

Emilio Estefan talks about the Miami homecoming of On Your Feet!

Written by
John Thomason

In November 2015, the preeminent power couple of the Miami music scene added another accomplishment to an already long list that includes Grammy-winning albums, books, films and more. That’s when Gloria and Emilio Estefan became Broadway impresarios, spearheading a musical based on their inspirational, tumultuous lives. Two years after its Broadway debut, On Your Feet! makes its national touring debut in Miami. Emilio Estefan would have it no
other way.

“Miami is going to be crazy, because most of the people have been with us since we played bar mitzvahs and weddings,” he says. “Miami has always been special to us. It’s a place where we always felt thankful for the good times, and even when we had the accident [that critically injured Gloria, in 1990], everyone was praying for us. It’s going to be amazing going to a theater and seeing the amount of faces we’ll know.”

A splashy jukebox musical that earns its exclamation point, On Your Feet! weaves the Estefans’ crossover singles, from their Miami Sound Machine days and Gloria’s solo career, into a narrative about pursuing the American Dream on one’s own terms. The book, scripted by Birdman’s Oscar-winning cowriter Alexander Dinelaris, charts Gloria’s musically precocious childhood in Cuba through her immigration to Miami, her on- and offstage relationship with Emilio and that harrowing bus crash. Along the way, it addresses themes of racism and perseverance, as the Latin pop innovators spar with shortsighted record executives intent on anglicizing their music. “We didn’t change our sound, and we never left the city that we love. We stayed true to our story.” And Miami stayed faithful to them, with Miami-Dade County even naming Emilio as special ambassador.

“We live in a city where we are lucky enough to have so much diversity. But we all get along, which is a beautiful thing. We’re Miamians.”

On Your Feet! is at Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts Oct 5–15.

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