It has been speculated that Gloria Estefan, whose life and music inspired the new Broadway musical On Your Feet!, will join the cast at some point during its run. In an interview with Laura Heywood (Broadway Girl NYC) in May, when Estefan was asked if she’d take over for Andréa Burns (who plays Gloria's mother), book writer Alexander Dinelaris quickly chimed in and said, “I asked her that two years ago before the show was written, and I said, ‘You’ve got to promise me…’”
Estefan responded, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll play Grandma. That I would like.”
Dinelaris added, “She nervously promised me.” Estefan replied, “Okay, but I’m going to switch to Grandma because Grandma doesn't have to have her leg over her head!”
Since then Estefan did join the cast of On Your Feet! onstage at the Beacon Theatre for this year’s Tony Awards to sing alongside leading lady Ana Villafañe in a medley of her tunes.
“That was kind of surreal because obviously playing her and then being onstage with her was weird,” Villafañe told Playbill. “I was like, ‘This is an out-of-body experience,’ where you have the muse right there in the flesh singing with you. There was one moment where I crossed from Stage Left to Center with her, and we were harmonizing, and I was taking the top line, and she was on the bottom line, and I was just like, ‘How is this real life?’ There’s Lin[-Manuel Miranda], there’s Oprah, there’s Barbra Streisand, and here is Gloria Estefan and I singing. It was so surreal. I grew up watching the Tony Awards.
“It’s one of those things that you watch every year and say, ‘Next year I’ll be there.’ You keep yourself hopeful and dreaming. To actually be part of it, especially for such a monumental year for diversity and to be in a show that’s telling our story and really putting us in a positive light…it’s cool to celebrate that, and it was a ride definitely.”
Has Estefan ever joked to Villafañe about joining the cast? “She has alluded to it,” the actress replied. “I think she’s maybe getting a little bit inspired by us because every time she does come to New York…you can tell. You can never take the performer out of the person who is a performer, so that thirst, that excitement of being onstage… She’s just the coolest woman. I am so grateful that I get to play somebody who is so incredibly cool and down to earth, and she’s been really open about those kinds of things. She has alluded to it. I don’t know if it will happen, but maybe when Andréa does Broadway on the High Seas coming up in a couple months, maybe we’ll convince Gloria to play her mother for a little. Who knows? Could you imagine? I don’t know if I’d be able to do it.”