As someone who grew up in Miami after her family immigrated from Cuba, Maria Bilbao couldn’t ask to be cast in a more fitting role of iconic singer Gloria Estefan in “On Your Feet!”
“Gloria has always been a major figure in my life and in my family’s lives because we grew up listening to her,” she said. “She is such a beacon in the life of the Latino community and such a powerful person because she’s gone through so much in her life to accomplish everything she has.”
Gloria and Emilio Estefan, who have been married for more than four decades, have combined to produce 26 Grammy Awards and have defined the Latin pop genre. Gloria and her “Miami Sound Machine” cranked out hit after hit in the 1980s to become one of music’s biggest stars, with their music continuing to stand the test of time.
The show, which had a successful run on Broadway, with more than 740 performances from November 2015 to August 2017 before being taken overseas and on a U.S. tour, will stop at the Aurora Theatre from March 5 – April 12.
Gloria’s string of hits, which include “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” “1-2-3,” “Conga,” “Turn the Beat Around,” “I See Your Smile,” “Here We Are,” “When Someone Comes Into Your Life,” “Party Time” and many more bring “On Your Feet!” to life.
“As a Cuban-American who works hard every day to achieve my dreams and helps other artists achieve theirs, Emilio and Gloria Estefan’s story resonates with me in a very personal way,” Aurora Theatre co-founder and Artistic Director Anthony Rodriguez said. “The Miami Sound Machine was an integral part of my teenage years, so while the show highlights the idea of the American dream, and the unique struggles we face in the pursuit of that dream, mostly, I am excited at how hard it will be to keep audiences from dancing in the aisles.”
Bilbao will play her childhood hero, while Max J. Cervantes, who also has strong ties to Broadway, plays Emilio in a show that is suitable for all ages.
“It is an amazing story about how these two fabulous people came into the country with their families and created such a beautiful life together,” Bilbao, who will make her Aurora Theatre debut along with Cervantes, said. “This show is filled with so much fun and heat and it’s centered on family and you get to laugh, cry and stand up and sing.”
Gloria Fajardo – Gloria Estefan’s mom who was a singer in Cuba — is played by Lilliangina Quinones, and Felicia Hernandez stars as Consuelo, who was Gloria Estefan’s grandmother. Little Gloria will be played by Chiara Bulkin and Aubrey Christopoulos and little Emilio by Jaycee Villalobos and Isaac Aguilar.
“Max and I have been spending every day with each other, learning to get to know each other off the stage so we can trust each other on the stage,” Bilbao said. “Since so much of the musical is us together on stage, we have to have that trust between us.”
The ensemble features CJ Babb, Conner Kocks, Maya Quinones, Arusi Santi, Marcello Audino, Danny Bevins, Damian Pastrana, Michael Crute, Patrick Coleman, Isaac Fenwick, Elijah Izaguirre, Geanna Funes, “Gaby” Gabriela Antunez, Angelique Alvarez, Pablina Lopez, Ayana DuBose, Miche Smith, Brandon Weber, Kristin Talley and Jacky Segui.