On Your Feet kicked off its run in Chicago, thrilling both audiences and critics alike. Genny Lis Padilla tells us about being with the show from the beginning and the experience of telling the story of someone so influential in music and culture.
The reviews for the Chicago production were unanimously positive. What a way to start this experience on stage!
We were ecstatic. I had an idea it was really good but you never know how it will be received until you put it in front of an actual audience.
Well you have the benefit of the Gloria Estefan songbook, some of the best music ever written.
I grew up with a lot of it and when we were putting the show together, Alex (Dinelaris, writer) did such a great job bridging the music with the book and I think people will be pleasantly surprised by how it fits. It’s not just a jukebox musical. The music and book really feed the story.
What’s been your favorite part of the experience so far?
The lab. It was the first time we were putting it on its feet with scenes and dance numbers and we really saw it come together. I love the creative side of it, figuring out what Jerry (Mitchell, director) was envisioning it to be. Doing the final run-throughs for the producers really got us excited about how it’s being formed. It was my first experience doing a show from the first reading to the lab and to the out-of-town run and now to Broadway. It’s my Broadway debut. My mind has blown.
How have all of those firsts challenged you as an actress?
With the very first reading, it was trying to bring life to something that had never been done before. With Rent or In The Heights, I’d been doing projects that had been done before. This was trying to find out who these characters really were. I didn’t know who Gloria’s sister was because she wasn’t in the limelight per se. Learning about the family, how they feed Gloria, how Gloria feeds them and what the dynamic is was challenging at first. Then presenting it to them, to Gloria and Emilio, in the first reading and seeing how they were so overwhelmed with emotion at hearing their story out loud for the first time – it was amazing. In the lab, I really worked to learn who Rebecca is, who she is to Gloria and who Gloria is to her. They are so bonded as sisters, so making that clear in the lab was the challenge as an actor; to make it lifelike and to do it justice. She’s a real person that I’ve gotten to meet and is so loving and kind and supportive of the process.
What are you busy with outside of the show?
My other big project is my Masters. I’m studying for my Masters in integrated marketing and communications. I love performing. It’s my first passion. But I also want to broaden my horizons. Communications and marketing is something I can utilize in my career as an actor and I’m learning how to be more effective. My husband and I started a new company and I would like to be able to get that company to another level. I wouldn’t change acting for anything in the world. But I want to give myself and a little more control and power over my life and my future for my family.
Check out Genny in On Your Feet! on Broadway this fall!
Photography by Michael Young
Photo Assistance by Anthony Lee Medina