Finding Broadway's Gloria: The Art of Casting
SEP 16, 2014
Remember all the great Broadway shows you have been to? Much of what made them memorable were the special and talented actors who graced that stage eight times a week.
Strong casting is crucial to the success of any show. You could have a terrific story or great music, but if you don’t have the right actors with good chemistry, you can bet the show won’t be around for very long.
Currently an international search is being conducted by the producers of On Your Feet! the forthcoming musical based on the lives and music of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, to find the perfect Gloria. The name of the search is called “Reach Gloria” and talented hopefuls are being encouraged to submit their audition videos online at onyourfeetmusical.com. Traditional auditions, for any part in the musical, are also taking place in Miami, New York and Los Angeles, yet with an unconventional twist: the auditions — such as the one taking place this Sunday, September 21 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami — are first-come-first-serve, open casting calls for anyone with a dream of making it to Broadway.
“Finding the right performers to tell our story on the Broadway stage is the most important step in this project,” said Gloria Estefan. “Our own journey together started in Miami, a city that has been such an inspiration to us both, and it only felt right that the city be a cornerstone of our search for the next generation of bright talent.”
What makes this casting process so different than all the other Broadway shows’ is that because so much of the music of Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine is sung in two languages and possesses deep roots in Latin beats, dance rhythms, and mainstream pop, the performers are being asked to audition in both English and Spanish. Veteran casting director Justin Huff (CSA) believes that choosing people of Hispanic descent who can speak and sing in both languages is key for anyone aspiring to secure the lead roles. “We’re looking for someone with an authentic Cuban heritage, who resembles Gloria, has the same voice type, and who can do their music justice for the 13 or 14 songs they will be singing.”
The production will start with a pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago in June 2015, in advance of its opening on Broadway in November 2015. Much like recent productions of Evita, West Side Story, and, perhaps the best example, the Tony Award–winning Best Musical In The Heights, this new Latin-inspired musical On Your Feet! will in all likelihood star a heavily Hispanic cast, lending true authenticity to this passionate story that explores the themes of immigration, romance, fame and fortune, setbacks, hope and the love for music. At the core, Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s journey is a universal story that will resonate with audiences everywhere.
The preproduction process of selecting actors for such pivotal roles is both exciting and daunting, but Huff, who is quite adept at discovering new talent, describes the many strategies he uses to achieve the desired result. “I have met with Latino agents, auditioned talent from Latin music, film, television, and other forms of live entertainment. We’ve seen some very talented performers and we’re close to finding our Gloria, Emilio, and members of their family.”
Emilio Estefan says that On Your Feet! is a project 20 years in the making and the time has come to tell their story: “This is the right time to tell Latino stories about the people who have become successful in the United States and have done great things for our culture.”
Set to Gloria’s chart-topping, smash hits such as “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” “Words Get In The Way,” “Mi Tierra,” and “Conga,” On Your Feet! follows the couple’s journey from Cuba, to Miami and superstardom, including Gloria’s recovery from a broken back after a near-fatal tour bus accident in 1990. The Estefans are not the first recording artists whose lives have inspired a Broadway musical. They join the glittering galaxy of stars that includes Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons in Jersey Boys, Diana Ross, Berry Gordy, Michael Jackson and his brothers in Motown, and Carole King and her contemporaries from the Brill Building in Beautiful.
On Your Feet! is produced by James L. Nederlander and Estefan Enterprises, Inc. in partnership with Bernie Yuman, and is directed by two-time Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Hairspray), with choreography by four-time Drama Desk nominee Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys, Memphis) and a book by two-time Drama Desk nominee Alexander Dinelaris (The Bodyguard Musical, Zanna Don’t). It begins a five-week world premiere engagement at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago, from June 2 to July 5, 2015, prior to its opening night on Broadway on November 5, 2015, following preview performances from October 5, at the Marquis Theatre.
Visit onyourfeetmusical.com to learn more and to sign up for exclusive updates, including priority ticket alerts.