Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 | 10:33 a.m.
The oft-discussed and long-anticipated musical adaptation of the lives of Gloria and Emilio Estefan has taken its first step toward Broadway, and renowned Las Vegas producer Bernie Yuman is helping to helm the project.
Announced today is that Yuman, for decades the manager of Siegfried & Roy during their rise and superstardom on the Strip, is the executive producer of a musical centered on the music and careers of the Estefans. The under-development production is not yet named.
Along with Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Yuman is partnering with The Nederlander Organization, a century-old, live-entertainment operation that owns and operates venues in New York, Chicago, San Diego, San Jose, Durham, N.C., and London.
As noted in a news release issued this morning, company President James Nederlander is currently represented on Broadway by “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” and is co-producing the upcoming “I’ll Eat You Last,” starring Bette Midler. “Next to Normal,” “Movin’ Out,” “La Cage aux Folles,” “Million Dollar Quartet” and “Fiddler on the Roof” are among the company’s credits.
One of the most accomplished figures on the Las Vegas entertainment scene, Yuman served as manager for Muhammad Ali for more than a decade. Word of his involvement in a stage show centering on the Estefans surfaced about three years ago, with the Tropicana as a possible venue.
“I’ve always had this (production) in my mind. Gloria and Emilio have been working on this with me for 2 1/2 to 3 years,” Yuman said Monday night in an interview with the Sun. “It’s been my dream to go to the Big Apple and produce a musical that is every man’s story. It crosses over in every way conceivable.”
As speculation about the show being staged at the Trop surfaced, the hotel was embracing a South Beach theme, and the Cuban-born Estefans were a natural fit in that overarching strategy. With seven Grammy Awards and record sales eclipsing 100 million, Gloria Estefan is recognized as the bestselling crossover Latin artist in the history of contemporary music.
She was a founding member of the chart-topping Miami Sound Machine, and her hits “Conga,” “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” and “1, 2, 3” are ripe for treatment in a Broadway-styled musical.
Estefan also recorded the Oscar-nominated “Music Of My Heart,” featuring ’N Sync. Estefan has shown a capacity to overcome challenges in her life and career, including recovering from a fractured spine when her tour bus was hit by a semi-truck in Scranton, Pa., in March 1990.
Emilio Estefan is a highly regarded music producer who has helped shape his wife’s creative direction. The artists with whom Emilio has collaborated reads like a crossover-music all-star lineup, among them Shakira, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and Jon Secada.
Yuman said he met the couple around the time he became Ali’s manager in November 1999. The couple were introduced to Yuman by a mutual friend, famed Hollywood producer Jerry Weintraub. Yuman went to work on connecting the Estefans to Las Vegas.
“The first thing we worked on together was the opportunity to bring Gloria to the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in 2003 (as a limited engagement),” Yuman said. “It was important because Gloria was the first person chosen to perform during Celine’s hiatus. She was the best choice to fill the theater. People were standing and screaming after every show. It was an amazing experience.”
The show being planned is no less than a Broadway musical biography of the Estefans’ lives. Though there is not yet a venue specified to premiere the show, it owns artistic and theatrical credibility before the show is even cast and the script written.
“Jimmy (Nederlander) is the most famous theater owner on Broadway,” Yuman said. “At the end of the day, the name Nederlander speaks for itself.”
An aggressive and inventive promoter, Yuman said he is eager for the challenge of staging a production on Broadway.
“This is my first Broadway show. I feel great,” Yuman said. “The Estefan story is every man’s story — literally living the American dream. It’s kind of like the rhythm of success. I grew up in Miami; the fact that the Estefan organization has emanated from Miami, that’s very near and dear to my heart.”
Yuman is certainly staying true to his roots. He graduated from Miami Beach High School and attended the University of Miami and is a huge Miami Dolphins fan. He moved to Las Vegas in 1976.
“I know in my heart that this is the perfect Broadway musical for me, as executive producer. It’s about living your dream and fulfilling your destiny,” said Yuman, who is forever a powerful speaker and personality. “This is part of my destiny.”
Yuman said a worldwide search will commence to fill the roles of Gloria and Emilio. When asked if he envisioned the touring version of the production stopping one day at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, he said, “To have a run in Las Vegas is part of this dream.”