Gloria Estefan details emotional journey to bring life story to West End
Gloria Estefan has spoken about the emotional experience of watching her life story being performed in front of her eyes in a new West End show.
On Your Feet: The Story Of Emilio And Gloria Estefan, which has already been a hit on Broadway, will open at the London Coliseum in June.
It includes hits such as Rhythm Is Gonna Get You, Conga, Get On Your Feet, Don’t Want To Lose You Now and 1-2-3, and charts her romance with husband Emilio and the bus accident in 1990 that left her with a serious spinal injury.
She told the Press Association: “There are so many emotional moments for me in the show, about my dad particularly, because I lost him when he was 47 and I was 23, and my son was two months old, and he (my father) had been ill for a long time.
“So to see him represented in things that actually happened…
“And reliving the accident, to a degree. Again it’s funny, because I always remember the aftermath and the connection and it was really important for us to portray that and the importance of people’s support for me there, and you’ll see that in the show, very much.”
She added: “It’s odd, but after five years of the show, I’m always surprised when I go.
“I’m always there thinking ‘I’m going to be fine, I’m going to be fine’, and either I will see someone reacting and then that moves me, or some little thing will be triggered and I will think back, and I just feel blessed that I’m here and that we are able to do this.”
Estefan said she is looking forward to tucking into bread sauce and steak and kidney pie when she in the UK and recalled happy memories of writing music on plane journeys to London, including her hit Conga.
However, she still rues the timing of the UK release of the song in 1985, saying: “Conga was released at the same time a group called Black Lace released a song called Do The Conga. Black Lace did a number on us.”
She later added: “It ended up OK, thank god. They had to release us three times.
“Why would they even do a conga? We were so confused and then our record company was going, ‘No, no, no, they (the radio) won’t play it, they won’t play it, this thing came out’.
“So it was mind-boggling to us, we were going, ‘How can this be? This song would be huge there’.
“It’s one of those kismet things but maybe it was meant to start with Anything For You.”
Estefan said the show will not be “a typical jukebox musical”, adding: “The songs really are part of the story.
“We want to bring the Latin fire here.
“There is like Olympic dancing, I don’t know how they do it. There are moves that are, to me, death defying.
“And my favourite thing to do is make people cry. At the Broadway show I would look around and see big beefy men with tears down their cheeks.”
Christie Prades, who plays Estefan in the show, told the Press Association: “You definitely get to see the struggle, you get to see the nos.
“There’s constant door slamming in Gloria’s face, there’s a lot of foreshadowing of what she’s gone through, and there’s a lot of tribulation with her and her mother, the bus accident.
“There’s just a lot of real struggle that people can connect to and I love doing that for people because they’re not expecting that, so we’re going to bring you on a heavy rollercoaster of emotions that make you like her and love her even more.”
On Your Feet will be at the London Coliseum from June 14 to August 31.