“Happy, humbled, excited and emotional!”
This is how Gloria Estefan describes watching her autobiographical musical, On Your Feet!, as it plays her adopted hometown of Miami.
The jukebox musical — which tells the story of the seven-time Grammy winning singer, songwriter and actress and her 19-time Grammy winning producer, musician and entrepreneur husband Emilio — originally opened two years ago on Broadway but launched its first national tour this September in Buffalo, New York.
“I have been crying for three weeks because it is so special to show our story to Miami audiences,” Gloria, 60, told PEOPLE Friday night at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami where more than 2,000 people gathered to see the musical tour’s official opening and congratulate the Cuban-American couple.
“Miami is my home, and it is as close to a homeland as I have,” Gloria continued. “I love the city deeply, and the audiences here will get many nuances from the show that other audiences couldn’t possibly understand.” (Gloria was originally born in Havana, Cuba, but fled to Miami during the Cuban Revolution.)
After Miami, On Your Feet! continues on a two-year, 31 city swing around the U.S. with about 11 different casts and musicians. The international premiere is also this month and will travel to many countries around the world.
“Emilio and I are going to Holland for rehearsals and sound checks to be sure everything goes right for the beginning of the show’s international tour,” said Gloria, looking stunning in a black cocktail dress and jacket with sparkly black heels.
“This is our life story, and I am so excited for Miami audiences to see our musical,” added Emilio, 64. “But it is also emotional for Gloria and me because we started in Miami trying to do small gigs. We wanted to stay true to who we are, so we would not change our names.”
The musical illustrates memories of those years when Gloria and Emilio were young, talented, inexperienced and ambitious. With about 30 songs and many dance numbers in the two-act show, American audiences will relive the 1980s when Gloria and the Miami Sound Machine blew up radio.
“This show is a terrific moment for us,” Emilio says. “But our careers are not about music. Our story is about people, drive, dreams and inspiration. It was time to showcase Gloria and my story and what we have done which will give hope to other immigrants.”
FROM PEOPLE TV: Nick Cannon on His Broadway Inspiration for Wild’n Out
Gloria — who is also busy creating a show for Amazon, recording a group of Brazilian songs and helping Emilio reopen their Cardozo hotel in South Beach after a major facelift — will be the first Cuban-American to receive a Kennedy Center honor in Washington, D.C. (The 40th annual honors will take place on Dec. 3 and be broadcast on CBS Dec. 26).
A recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Gloria, who has sold more than 100 million records throughout her career, insists her staggering success never felt like work.
“Our work is our passion,” she told PEOPLE. “No long hours ever felt like work because we love it so much. To watch our lives play out on stage is so exciting and emotional!”