I had a chance to sit down with Alexandria Suaréz, a talented 16 year old who is currently starring as Little Gloria Estefan in On Your Feet! The Musical.
Well, On Your Feet was basically just an audition and I had gone on a few Broadway auditions so I was like, okay, just going to take it in stride. If I do get it, it would be ideal because I’d be representing a culture that I have grown up with so ingrained in my head.
You knew a lot of Gloria’s music?
Yes. An abundance of her music. Yup.
What other shows did you audition for?
Well, I actually can’t remember at the moment. I always respected theater but I have never been a theater geek, so now is when I am being introduced to all of the Broadway terms and this and that and it’s cool. It’s cool because I come from the TV realm. I am so accustomed to TV and booths and recording so it’s cool to be introduced to that.
Yes, that’s cool. And you’re now on Broadway playing Gloria Estefan. What song did you perform for your audition?
Well, we had to prepare an English and a Spanish song, so of course I went with “Part Of Your World” for the English one. But I first sang the Spanish song. It’s actually one of Gloria’s songs called “Tu Fotografia,” which is “Your Photograph,” and it’s about her father and it’s very sentimental. As you know, her father had multiple sclerosis and he died. So it was a very heartfelt song and after I sang it, Jerry Mitchell, our wonderful director, didn’t make me sing the second song. I just went to the workshop and I am just so grateful for him. He sees something in everyone that, whether or not they see it in themselves, it just works.
Did you and Ana [Villafañe, who plays adult Gloria] have to take lessons to talk like Gloria —
I’ve adapted, even subconsciously, some sounds that I have kept as the show progresses and they feel very comfortable for me to do anyway and as my character evolves people tell me sound like her which I find funny yet wonderful, because not many people knew how she sounded at the age I represent.
Did you practice words together to make sure you say it the same way?
No. We warm up together. We don’t really practice enunciating certain words. People do tell me I sound like her [Gloria] when she was younger, because there are people who knew her years ago, and really that’s an honor because that’s my goal. So it’s cool.
You are representing a really cool person in general. Why do you think it’s important for a Broadway show to be representing Gloria’s story?
It’s good. It’s spontaneous. I think it’s vital, because well, of course, everyone’s story should be heard but she is part of something so much bigger than herself. She is part of the American dream. I know you hear this a lot in regards to the show, “Cuban culture” and “American dream,” but Cuban culture is something that has not been represented a lot in the past decades, so it’s always cool to introduce Cuban music. And it’s nice so that people know you have this culture, you have Cubans. It’s just very important for people to be exposed to every culture and our job, which doesn’t feel like a job at all —
It looks like you guys are having a party on stage.
It is. It’s a Party con “p-a-y”. That’s a term that we always utilize. It’s a party with pay. You get paid to party.
Seriously, you guys do party. When you come down the aisle for the Conga — you are not in that scene — but when they come down the aisle, that looks like so much fun.
Yes. They are having a blast.
What do you do when you are not on stage? You have a lot of downtime.
Yes. It’s good. I primarily do schoolwork. I like meditating, but I can’t really. I am a Gemini, so I am very fickle — I have twins in my personality. I am very true to my sign and a zodiac freak. So I am all over the place sometimes. So I like to try meditating. I like to try adult coloring. The people in wardrobe, I just love them so much. I just hang out with them. I’m friends with the kids. Sometimes we talk on the bean bags, we do whatever.
How do you balance being in school and the