Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s love story is finally heading to theaters in “On Your Feet!” and on Monday, the musical super-couple announced who will be playing them on stage.
Ana Villafañe, who initially auditioned via video to play her idol, will make her Broadway debut opposite “Sirens” actor Josh Segarra.
“You are going to see the whole breakdown (of our relationship),” said Gloria Estefan during the big reveal on the Today Show, adding it will be all about their 37 year relationship. “You get to see how it all happened.”
The Estefans were first approached about doing a Broadway show of their lives nearly 20 years ago, but it was just not the right time to share their love story until now Emilio Estefan revealed.
“I think our lives can inspire a lot of people – about dreams, about being persistent,” he said.
On playing the Latin music power-couple, Villafañe told InStyle that it’s “a very big responsibility.”
“I don’t think you can actually replicate Gloria Estefan – you can only do your best to tell her story and be true to the music,” the Cuban-American actress said. “I grew up performing her music at talent shows. ‘Reach’ was the first song I ever sang in public when I was 9 years old. That’s what we would jam to on our way to school.”
A school which just happened to be Our Lady of Lourdes Academy – the same Gloria Estefan attended.
“It was an out-of-body experience to be portraying her when she was in the room; it was just kind of surreal,” said Villafañe about rehearsals with her idol. “On one side of my brain, I’d be working and taking notes about everything she tells me, and the other side of my brain I’m like ‘Oh my god, you’re in a little room singing with Gloria Estefan right now.’”
Segarra is not a stranger to the Broadway stage after appearing off-Broadway in “Dogfight” and on Broadway in “Lysistrate Jones.”
"It's a rare and wonderful thing when you find an actor who wholly matches the material," said director Jerry Mitchell, according to Broadway World. "Josh has been a part of this project since the very first reading, and brings such an incomparable spark, passion, and humor to the role of Emilio, that we held onto him with all our might."
“On Your Feet!” will start in Cuba, where the Estefans grew up, and will follow their success in Miami and beyond using some Gloria Estefan’s iconic songs to tell the story.
“Some songs were no-brainers,” she said, adding that many of the songs feel like they were written for the stage production.
An original song written by Gloria and daughter Emily Estefan will also be a highlight of the soundtrack.
Mitchell, who directed “Kinky Boots,” will helm the show with Sergio Trujillo choreographing.
The musical will begin performances Oct. 5 at the Marquis Theatre after a stop this summer at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago, from June 2 through July 5.