John Leguizamo Heads to Broadway to Teach ‘Latin History for Morons’
John Leguizamo has been teaching Spanish since he corrected pronunciations at the bar at The First Amendment improv comedy theater. He honed his lessons in educational one-man shows like “Mambo Mouth” and “Spic-o-Rama,” forging an original voice while pushing an agenda with the best delivery system at his disposal: manic over-the-top subversive humor. So when Leguizamo’s kid came home from school one day and found that no one was taking notes, the comedian took a page from comedian Colin Quinn and scribbled out the easy-to-follow solo show “Latin History for Morons.” Following a sold-out run at the Off-Broadway venue The Public Theater and a record-breaking engagement at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the show is now on Broadway.
Emmy Award winner Leguizamo shows off his moves at Studio 54, a place he wouldn’t have gotten past the velvet ropes in its heyday. The former nightclub is a perfect setting for the fast-paced show whose goal is to undo a whole education and the entire way people think. Not an easy lesson because “that shit’s in there deep.” “Latin History for Morons” was directed by Tony Taccone, who has been the Artistic Director of Berkeley Rep for the past 23 years.
The show centers around a “Heroes Project” Leguizamo’s son has to put together before high school graduation that made the father realize how little he actually knows about Latin history. After setting up his chalkboard, Leguizamo talks and dances his way through three centuries and three continents. He covers everything from the Mayas in Peru during 1,000 BC to Pitbull in Florida a couple weeks ago, in 90 minutes. Freely interpreting the cultural progression through ancient Aztec and Incan rituals to modern Santerian sambas, and even throwing in an Irish jig.
Leguizamo began in his solo Broadway career began with “Freak” in 1998. His Off-Broadway show “Spic-o-Rama” won best American play 1992 from the Warner Hull Dramatist. His Broadway show “Ghetto Klown” won Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Awards. Leguizamo’s “Freak” was nominated for Emmy and Tony Awards. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in the film “To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar,” and a SAG for his role in the musical “Moulin Rouge.” He starred in Spike Lee’s “Summer of Sam,” and lent his voice to the animated “Ice Age” series.
John Leguizamo’s “Latin History for Morons” takes the Studio 54 stage Oct. 23. 2017 through Feb. 25 2018.