Interview: GABY ALBO of ON YOUR FEET at THEATRE UNDER THE STARS

We talk about Gloria Estefan, the meaning of this show, and her music!

By: Jan. 26, 2024
Interview: GABY ALBO of ON YOUR FEET at THEATRE UNDER THE STARS

ON YOUR FEET is coming to Houston from January 30th through February 11th. The show is a premiere for Houston, and Theatre Under the Stars brought this tour in. It will be performed at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. BROADWAY WORLD's Brett Cullum got a chance to talk with Gaby Albo, who plays Gloria Estefan, and she had a lot to say about the Latin influences and the meaning of ON YOUR FEET! 

Brett Cullum: The first thing I wanted to ask you about is that playing Gloria Estefan must be really intimidating. She's still with us. She's still around. She's this huge force in Latin music. They've even given her the name the “Queen of Spanish Pop.” Have you met her?

Gaby Albo: We've met three times already.

Brett Cullum: Wow! What do you think is the key to playing Gloria? How do you channel her? Is there a trademark move, or a mannerism, or something?

Gaby Albo: You know what? That's a good question. In the beginning, I was very stressed about that. I was watching all the YouTube videos possible. I was looking at her interviews to see her more as a person, and then I tried to see her in videos of her, like regular, normal life, and then also see her show videos, which is a different persona.

So, in the beginning, I tried to imitate her and her voice, and at some point, I was like, “No, no, no, no!” I'm not an impersonator. I got cast because I have attributes similar to hers, and that's enough. So I'm gonna try to tell her story with all the truth and with my skills in my own way. And I think it has worked out well.

Brett Cullum: Great! What was her impression? Has she seen you do the role?

Gaby Albo: Yes, twice, and she likes it. She's very. She's been very complimentary. She's been super nice. She's always really grateful that many Latino people are telling her story. Not a lot of us are Cuban, but she likes that it's not just a Cuban story or her story. A lot of our stories are told in that show.

Brett Cullum: I would love to ask you what your favorite song is to perform in the show. Because when I think of Gloria's music catalog, it's just a hammer to my brain. I have so many favorites. So what's yours? 

Gaby Albo: I love it! Actually, my favorite Gloria song is “Mi Terra,” and I don't sing that song. That's the saddest part. I sing a million songs in the show, but not my favorites, which are her Spanish-speaking ones. 

But the ones that I sing in the show that are my favorites are “Wrapped” and “Coming Out of the Dark.”  

Brett Cullum: Gloria isn't somebody that we know her personal life as well as like Tina Turner. She's a bit more private. What do you think surprises people in this show about Gloria Estefan? What do they get shocked at when they see ON YOUR FEET?

Gaby Albo: I think not a lot of people know about her accident in 1990. Everybody knows “Conga,” but not much aside from that.

So I think it's good because, in the first part of the show, it's mainly the career challenges that they had to face. And I think in the second act, it's more of the personal challenges they have to face, 

Brett Cullum: This is a tour. That changes things from the Broadway version we had in 2015. What can we expect that makes this version a little different and adds a little bit more flavor?

Gaby Albo: Definitely. Luis Salgado is a choreographer and director of the show, and he was part of the original Broadway production, actually. But I think what I like about this version is if you've seen it, you definitely have to come and see it again cause it's a very different take on the show. It's very spiritual. 

He's very much into representing our Latin roots. So even the choreography was built with our typical cultural moves like from Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, like in the workshop, they were doing like, oh, in my country we do this. And he based his choreography off of that. So that's pretty cool.

Brett Cullum: I wanted to ask you a little about yourself personally, Gabby; how did you get started in music and theatre?

Gaby Albo: I was a really shy child. Actually, I would never have imagined myself doing this. I was 13 or something. And one of my really good friends, her dad, opened a musical theater summer camp. My friend was like, “Let's go!” And I was like, “No! What are we gonna do there? No, I have nothing to do there.”

I don't know how she dragged me in, and I remember walking out of the classes like it was so overwhelming. I was dying of shyness in there, so I was not having it. But then I noticed that it was starting to make me more outgoing in my normal life. So I decided to stay in the normal classes in the regular course after the summer camp, and one day, I was at a hairdresser, one of my mom’s friends. I was singing with my iPod, and she came to me and said, “You're such a bad singer. I have a friend who's a voice teacher. Why don't you go and give it a try?”

 

That changed my life completely. I started lessons! 

Brett Cullum: Wow! I also noticed that in clips of you performing, I see you do a lot of gymnastic and acrobatic things, and you sing while you do it.

Gaby Albo: I was a gymnast! I was really sporty when I was little. I did gymnastics, cheerleading, tennis, running, swimming, everything, but not the arts. So that's why I have now merged them both.

 

Brett Cullum: Where do you live now? Where's your home base?

Gaby Albo: I don't have a house now, so whenever I'm off, I go to my parents' house in Mexico. But I would love to give it a try here in the United States and see what comes out of this. ON YOUR FEET was very magical, not planned at all. And now I've been here in the States for almost two years, so I would like to give it a try and see what comes after this. I'm working on my visa now. So that's exciting for me.

Brett Cullum: What do you think is the central lesson for audiences of ON YOUR FEET?

Gaby Albo: The most logical, or the most obvious, is to stick to your dreams and make them happen. I guess for me the core, the very inner heart of the show, is empathy, how love can heal, how love can make you go and overcome everything. I know it sounds cheesy, but for me, that's it. Maybe it's not that obvious for everybody because everybody likes all the Conga dances, and they take over a lot of the show, but this show moves me every time. I see empathy, the human union of the souls, and it is very spiritual.




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