Get ready to feel the rhythm, because On Your Feet! – the Gloria and Emilio Estefan musical – is conga-lining its way over to London.
Previously, On Your Feet! ran on Broadway for just under two years, with Cuban-American actor Ana Villafañe playing Gloria Estefan (a role she created). The show opened in November 2015 and closed in August 2017, though it’s now touring the United States.
This jukebox musical tells the true love story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan: charting their journey from Cuba to Miami, and from there to international superstardom. It includes some of the Grammy award winning couple’s most popular songs, including “Conga,” “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” and “1-2-3.”
So why do the Estefans get their own musical? Well, besides the fact that they produced it (which helps) they actually have a pretty cool story.
Gloria Estefan (born Gloria Fajardo) was born in Cuba in 1957, but her family fled to Miami, Florida during the Cuban Revolution, so Gloria mainly grew up in the United States. She started her musical career as the lead singer of a group known as Miami Sound Machine, whose breakthrough hit was “Conga,” released in 1985. The song ranked #10 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and the group’s other songs quickly raced up even higher on the charts. Starting in 1989, Gloria became known as a solo artist. She’s since sold over 100 million records worldwide and won 26 Grammy awards, and she’s credited with helping invent the Latin crossover style of music.
But there’s another element to this story: the Miami Sound Machine’s band leader was a young Cuban-American named Emilio Estefan. Gloria fell in love with him as early as 1976, and the couple married in 1978. Later, Gloria revealed that Emilio was her first and last boyfriend. And the couple have supported each other ever since: whether that’s musically, professionally, or personally. Today, they have a son and a daughter and live on Star Island, Florida. Emilio is a successful musician and producer in his own right, having won 19 Grammy awards.
In 1990, Gloria was critically injured when, during a snowstorm near Scranton, Pennsylvania, a truck crashed into her tour bus. She received intensive medical care, including two titanium rod implants and nearly a full year of physical therapy. By her own admission, Gloria suffered terrible, debilitating pain during this time – but ten months after the accident she was touring the world, fully recovered.
To say that Gloria and Emilio Estefan are successful would be an understatement. They’ve both received a high number of awards and honors, including two adjacent stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They also own a string of Cuban restaurants and are stakeholders in NFL sports team the Miami Dolphins. Gloria herself has succeeded in virtually everything she’s put her hand – or her voice – to, including singer, songwriter, actress, producer, entrepreneur, speaker, and activist. Her net worth is $500 million. She’s widely regarded as the most successful crossover artist in music history.
Strangely or not strangely enough, Emilio Estefan’s net worth is also $500 million. And like his wife, he’s played various roles over the years, including actor, producer, singer, musician, and entrepreneur.
Perhaps the most inspiring thing about the Estefans is that they’re so completely dedicated to each other. They’ve been married for 40 years. And in the celebrity world, that’s no mean feat. Also inspiring is the way they embrace their dual heritage: the couple has released songs in Spanish and English, and their early hits daringly blended Cuban and American musical styles, which may have been exactly what made their music so popular – and so fun to dance to.
Now the Estefans are trying yet another venture – bringing their (dare we say “glorious?”) musical to London’s West End – and it’s probably safe to say the venture will be a smashing success, just like everything else they’ve ever touched. In Gloria’s own words:
“The U.K. has not only been an important source of beautiful music for our world, but has also played an integral role in my own personal musical history. To have our life story playing on the stage of the iconic London Coliseum is a dream I could never have imagined coming true. I am thrilled and excited beyond words.”
So are we, Gloria. So are we.
On Your Feet! plays the London Coliseum from 14 June to 31 August 2019. Casting has yet to be announced.