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Dynamic Duo

On Your Feet! Stars Ana Villafañe & Ektor Rivera Talk First Impressions, Creating Original Moments, & An Epic New Year's Eve

March 23rd, 2017 by

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On Your Feet! Stars Ana Villafañe & Ektor Rivera Talk Fir...

Rising stars Ana Villafañe and Ektor Rivera both make their Broadway debuts starring as Grammy-winning music superstars Gloria and Emilio Estefan in the electrifying, hit Broadway bio-musical On Your Feet!. BroadwayBox caught up with the dynamic duo to hear from each of them about first impressions, building their friendship, and their most memorable performances.

Ana Villafañe Gif- Ektor Rivera Gif- Gloria Estefan GIF


My first impression of my co-star:

Ana:
His energy is so open! He has a childlike innocence, which is very endearing...It's in the eyes. 

Ektor:
A very open and collaborative actress. I saw her perform the role before I was cast and was so impressed by her, and her likeness to Gloria—in singing, movement, energy, aura.


Moment I knew we’d be friends:

Ana:
Ektor is very professional and takes his job very seriously, but in rehearsals he would make unexpected jokes and that's when I started to meet the real him. I immediately clicked with his fun side.

Ektor:
I knew we’d be friends from my very first rehearsal with her, which was for PBS’ A Capitol Fourth.  It would be the very first time I was performing as Emilio Estefan, and she was so welcoming and kind.


My favorite scene to watch my co-star in:

Ana:
I love his grounded approach to "Don't Wanna Lose You Now." I go offstage crying hysterically and trying to fix my face/hair, but I consistently watch and listen to his performance. He doesn't notice but I guess after reading this he'll know my secret...

Ektor:
My favorite scene of hers is when she performs “Coming out of the Dark”. She has such an honest connection with the story and with the audience—it’s a real blend of her in the role as Gloria and as Ana. It's powerful.


A small moment we share in the show that I love but audiences might miss:

Ana:
We have created some moments that are entirely our own and not in the original script/direction (sorry!). But one of my favorite things is when he kisses my head as we cross toward our exit at the end of "Here We Are". It's tender but playful.

Ektor:
During Phil’s office scene (the record producer who initially rejects the idea of the Estefans recording in English), we have a few super short and constantly changing moments we create.


Off-stage we bond over:

Ana:
FOOD. And art.

Ektor:
Random thoughts, mostly funny. Food.


The most memorable performance we’ve shared:

Ana:
Singing at the Capitol in DC on the Fourth of July was pretty legit, and was actually our first performance together. But nothing can ever top New Year's Eve when we performed for millions of people, with the real Gloria Estefan, in the middle of Times Square. (Yes—THAT same concert with Mariah Carey...) We were actual rock stars that night. It was everything.

Ektor:
Performing in Times Square on New Year’s Eve with the real Gloria Estefan in front of 2 million people, plus the millions that watched us on TV! It was freezing but we didn’t even feel the cold that night. It was incredible! =)


One pre-show ritual we share:

Ana:
We all gather in a circle at the five-minute call. Then Ektor and I always hug and wish each other a great show at the very top of the overture, before I cross the stage blowing kisses to the band. Pretty standard and simple, but it would feel strange not to connect like that before. It's like part of the choreography for my show by now.

Ektor:
Our circle of gratitude at five-minute call.


I’m in awe of my co-star’s ability to:

Ana:
Adapt. That's a useful skill.

Ektor:
I’m in awe that Ana is able to perform a role that requires incredible physical and vocal stamina, emotional range, and tons of costume changes, eight times a week!! This role is only for a super-human! lol.


The secret to our performances working so well together:

Ana:
Honesty and trust. Our characters get pretty vulnerable in the show, so without trust it simply won't work.

Ektor:
We are always present. We listen to each other in each scene. We work with honesty as our base to deliver the story. At the end of the show, we can feel that wave of good energy in the audience. It never fails. 


The thing that surprised me most about my co-star:

Ana:
His sense of humor was a surprise! Also, he LOVES Gatorade and tootsie rolls.

Ektor:
Her personal story. The way she dissects a character based on simple details.

Ana Villafañe & Ektor Rivera On Your Feet

Photo by Matthew Murphy


Don't miss Ana & Ektor wow as Gloria & Emilio in On Your Feet! at Broadway’s Marquis Theatre.