Gloria Estefan was on top of the world in 1990. After a string of hits that catapulted her “Miami sound” to the top of the charts over and over again, she had become a household word.
Then on March 20, 1990, a truck crashed into Gloria Estefan’s tour bus and it was rumored that she may never see the stage again.
“They said I would never walk again – that the damage had been severe,” Gloria Estefan recalls now.
Flash forward less than a year. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Gloria Estefan walked onstage at the American Music Awards in January of 1991, after an introduction by Jon Bon Jovi.
Now that inspiring story has been made into a musical that opens in Chicago at the Oriental Theatre in two weeks.
It is called “On Your Feet” after one of Gloria Estefan’s most enduring hits.
The show was cast after an open casting call in Miami. Ana Villafane plays Gloria Estefan on stage in the musical. Josh Segarra plays Gloria’s husband, manager, and partner Emilio Estefan.
“In essence, it’s kind of the description of our lives,” Gloria Estefan says of the musical. “We’ve had to continuously get on our feet. From leaving our country – he went to Spain then he came here, I came at the age of 2.”
Telling her story in the form of a musical is somewhat of a risk for Gloria Estefan. When the now-popular TV show Duck Dynasty tried its hand in musical theatre recently, the show closed in under a month.
“The audience is a wonderful nurturing audience but also they’re savvy in the way of theater so it’s a great place to try your stuff out,” Gloria Estefan said of opening at the Oriental Theatre.
“I think Chicago’s gonna bring us a lot of good luck,” Emilio Estefan said.
Gloria Estefan says the show has a positive message.
“If there’s one thing people take from this play when they leave, it’s that they realize you can have the best life in the world. You’re still going to get thrown hurdles and curve balls and it’s all about how you deal with them and what you do.
“And you get back on your feet every single time. Because that’s what life’s about.”