When keyboard player Clay Ostwald joined Miami Sound Machine in 1986, he didn’t have many expectations.

“I thought it would be just for a while,” he said of his gig in the band featuring Emilio Estefan Jr. and his wife, Gloria. “I never imagined that her career or our career would go on so long and be so wonderfully successful.”

Ostwald was in a group called The Company when the Estefans hired him and four bandmates to be the Miami Sound Machine’s new rhythm section. He has worked with the group ever since, producing, writing, arranging and performing.

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Now he’s working on the national tour of “On Your Feet,” a musical about the life and career of the Estefans, who both immigrated to the United States from Cuba. The musical, which premiered on Broadway in 2015, will open at Omaha’s Orpheum Theater on Tuesday.

Ostwald wrote some of the Miami Sound Machine songs that are featured in the show: “Get on Your Feet,” “Oye Mi Canto” and “Party Time.”

He’s been part of the musical since the beginning. The Estefans sent him to New York as the show was being developed “to represent them and make sure the music was authentic and done well,” he said in an interview from Grand Rapids, Michigan, the tour’s last stop before Omaha.

He was the associate director and conductor for the Broadway show and became musical director for the tour, which began about a year and a half ago.

“On Your Feet” portrays the Estefans’ rise to stardom.

“The show is about their immigration from Cuba and wanting to be accepted in the entertainment world but keeping their traditions from their folklore,” he said. “I think people see a lot of great music and it’s very entertaining, but there’s an underlying message about the American dream and immigration that’s very positive and inspiring.”

And, he said, “it’s surprisingly relevant now.”

The Estefans also are surprisingly thoughtful, down-to-earth and considerate in a business that’s not always that way, Ostwald said.

“Gloria didn’t set out to be a celebrity,” he said. “Some of that is portrayed in the musical. She has taken on being a role model for the Cuban-American population. She’s seen as a cultural icon.”

Ostwald was originally from Boulder, Colorado, and moved south to attend the University of Miami. He lived in south Florida for many years with his wife and kids until he moved to New York City for the Broadway job.

He has loved his work with Miami Sound Machine, the musical and the Estefans.

“I’ve had world tours and all kinds of good stuff with Gloria and Emilio,” he said. “The (musical) is great because we play all the old songs for new audiences. I enjoy doing the show every time.”

Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.