'On Your Feet!' kicks off National Tour in Elmira
ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- The story of one international sensation has come to the Twin Tiers.
After a month of rehearsals in Elmira, the second national tour of the hit musical On Your Feet! has officially kicked off at the Clemens Center
With songs like "Rhythm is Gonna Get You," "Conga" and "Get On Your Feet," the musical showcases the rise to fame of Latin superstar Gloria Estefan with the help of her husband, Emilio.
Directed and choreographed by Luis Salgado, a member of the original Broadway cast, this brand-new production dives into the life of the duo beyond their hits.
“This story exemplifies the American Dream through the eyes and work ethic of Cuban immigrants,” he said in a press release. “The Estefans have given us permission to dare to dream bigger. They allowed their truth to resonate through their music, penetrating all of us, whether you’re Latine or not. This joy is a gift we want to give to our audiences.”
In May 2022, Salgado directed and choreographed the Spanish world premiere of On Your Feet! at Washington D.C.’s GALA Hispanic Theatre. Along with Salgado, several members of the cast and crew from that production have also transferred to the new national tour.
One of them is Gaby Albo, a Mexican-based actress who leads the cast as Gloria Estefan. For her, stepping into the shoes of the music star was daunting, yet incredibly rewarding.
“It's a little nerve-wracking to be playing somebody that's such an important person in the industry right now, [especially since] she's still alive and people know her,” she said. “So, it's definitely a challenge, but [I’m] definitely very proud of myself.”
Since the Washington D.C. production, Albo said her portrayal of Estefan has continued to grow and be even more accurate to the real-life singer.
"I'm actually working with Clay [Ostwald], who was part of the original Miami Sound Machine,” she said. “It's great to have his advice. Now I'm not trying to imitate [Estefan] because I'm not an impersonator, but I'm getting closer to [her] style, to the pop. [For example,] where does she put vibrato in the notes? Maybe you don't consciously think about [that], but it gets you closer to her style and what she did.”
But the most helpful resource of all, Albo said, was a “Bible” that the real-life Estefan created for any future Gloria.
"We call it a show Bible,” said Albo. “There, she explains all her relationships with every person, because sometimes you have to say things in the show [that] you don't know the meaning of...She [also] explained each lyric [in her songs] and what it meant...So imagine that's like pure gold in your hands. I have that.”
Albo's journey soon came full circle, when she met the dynamic duo of Gloria and Emilio Estefan themselves.
“This is going to sound like weird, but about seven [or] eight years ago, I just had the feeling [that]...I was going to meet them,” she said. “I just remember saying, ‘Universe, I don't know how that's going to happen...but you take care of it.’ Then eight years later, I'm portraying their story. Like what?! So, it is crazy.”
On Your Feet! plays its final performance at the Clemens Center Wednesday night before hitting the road nationwide. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Clemens Center Box Office at 607-734-8191 or 800-724-0159. They can also be bought online at ClemensCenter.org.