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"Ghetto Klown", Starring John Leguizamo, at the Lyceum Theatre
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"Ghetto Klown", Starring John Leguizamo, at the Lyceum Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights

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WestBeth Entertainment, Daveed D. Frazier,
Nellie Nugent Present:

Ghetto Klown
(Ghetto Klown Website)

Written by and Starring John Leguizamo

At the
Lyceum Theatre
A Schubert Organization
149 West 45th Street

Directed by Fisher Stevens

Scenic Design: Happy Massee
Lighting Design: Jen Schriever
Sound Design: Peter Fitzgerald
Projection Design: Aaron Gonzalez
Projection Consultant: Christopher Cronin
Technical Supervisor: Hudson Theatrical Associates
Movement Consultant: Marlyn Ortiz
Press: Boneau/Bryan Brown
Publicity: Blanca Lasalle/Creative Link
Advertising: Neil Turton
Online Marketing; Bay Bridge Productions
Production Stage Manager: Arabella Powell
Company Manager: John E. Gendron
Exec. Producer: Arnold Engelman
Assoc. Producers: Insurgent Media,
Camron Cooke, Kenneth Teaton

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 28, 2011

I met John Leguizamo recently at a Sardi’s lunch, where he joined a panel for the Drama Desk event. He impressed me as a dynamo with a great story to tell. Sure enough Mr. Leguizamo’s one-man show, to which I brought a friend, who had seen it already, plus all John’s prior shows and stand-up comedy gigs, was hugely entertaining. The Lyceum Theatre is tightly located on a packed busy block, and the street seemed to converge onstage. Happy Massee’s scenic design is mostly spare, with a running path that leads offstage, silhouetting Mr. Leguizamo’s profile like a shadow box. The expansive video screen fluidly projects home movie clips, Hollywood set and production clips, slides of John’s father, grandfather, lovers, wives, children, street scenes, early home life, buddies, mother, acting coach, agents, and moving subway. Aaron Gonzalez was one industrious projection designer, with seemingly hundreds of slides and film clips that brought the audience smack into each monologue skit, whether ironically witty, outright hilarious, sentimental, or sympathetic. In fact, there was a satisfying informative aspect to these projections, learning about Hollywood heartaches, mixed with celebrity anecdotes and tales of the cutting room..

Mr. Leguizamo didn’t bring us home to his family gently, but with the rush of a crashing helicopter, as we were tossed sad sagas of his parents’ rejecting comments, mixed with warm remembrances of his grandfather’s folkloric advice. John’s heritage is Colombia and Puerto Rico, growing up in New York, borough of Queens. He leads us into the depths of relationships, only to drop us cold, with a snap of his fingers, as he says, “end of relationship”. These alliances ran the gamut from on-off romantic, to mentoring-professional, to lifelong friend, to his scornful father. But, there was always a quick joke to cushion the memory, to extract humor from almost every scenario. That humor explodes like scrappy slingshots, John’s learned defenses from his days in the streets. Mr. Leguizamo began the show with some break-dancing, and at times catapults himself across the stage, through the aisles, and back across his rear stage ramp. His spunky physicality keeps the momentum akin to a dizzying dervish, but when he draws us into his second marriage, with a costume designer he chased for years, his tone mellows, and his slides are peaceful.

Some of the Hollywood celebrities who made their way into this show are Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Patrick Swayze, and Director Lee Strasberg. When Mr. Leguizamo mentions one of hundreds of characters who pop into his stories, he takes on their accent, tone, mood, gesture. In fact, Mr. Leguizamo becomes a comical chameleon, traveling through time and social strata, eagerly drawing us in. Mr. Leguizamo, as author and performer, wisely brought in Fisher Stevens as Director, as there are no empty pauses, no break in Mr. Leguizamo’s agility and velocity of his animated memoir. He even made the most of a microphone glitch, followed by vocal accolades. Kudos to John Leguizamo.

John Leguizamo Backstage
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

John Leguizamo and Carlos Salvador
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

John Leguizamo Signs for His Fans
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at