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John Leguizamo's "Latin History for Morons" at Studio 54
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John Leguizamo's "Latin History for Morons" at Studio 54

- Backstage with the Playwrights


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Nelle Nugent, Kenneth Teaton
et al.
Present:
Berkeley Repertory Theatre and The Public Theater
Production of:

Latin History for Morons
(Production Website)

Written by and Starring: John Leguizamo
Directed by Tony Taccone

At
Studio 54
254 West 54th Street
NY, NY
212.719.1300

Scenic Design: Rachel Hauck
Costume Design: Luke McDonough
Lighting Design: Alexander V. Nichols
Original Music & Sound Design: Bray Poor
Production Stage Manager: Lisa Iacucci
Technical Supervision: Hudson Theatrical Associates
Press Representative: Polk & Co.
Advertising: AKA
Publicity: Blanca Lassalle, Creative Link
Digital Marketing: Situation Interactive
Company Manager: Lizbeth Cone
General Manager: 101 Productions, Ltd.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 18, 2017


After attending a dreary, muffled, large ensemble matinee at The Public, what a treat to attend a hugely entertaining, high-spirited, one-man show, presented by The Public, where it originally debuted in New York, for John Leguizamo’s multitude of fans. Now at Studio 54, the perfect venue for Leguizamo’s fevered, frenzied, fabulous monologue, with a strong sound system and engaging props galore, we learned about Latin History, yes, actual documented history, taught to relate to tonight’s raucous crowd’s mood. The show’s title says “For Morons”, but that’s part of Leguizamo’s motif, to set a low bar for concentration, and we lean forward and listen in. As an experienced educator, I found Leguizamo’s handwritten show, starring himself, a predictable delight and a welcome respite on a two-show Saturday. In fact, he actually does handwrite onstage, on a basic, turnaround blackboard, with chalk and eraser. He writes time lines and illustrates maps of ancient and evolved Latin cultures, as his son, in a “fancy private middle school”, has been slighted with racial epithets, including by the son of a “liberal” donor to the school.

Leguizamo spends the next 100 minutes or so walking us through his persevering search for a true Latin hero for his son, one who could grace history curriculum across the grades. Every time he thinks he has a hero, he finds a flaw or failure, but Leguizamo’s outrageous humor turns the discovery into a series of sight gags and politically incorrect jokes, to boisterous applause. John Leguizamo describes his family, with his Jewish wife and their children (John is from Bogotá, Colombia), with loving pride and spirit. He also has schtick where he slams a door in his own face, evocative of his son’s reaction to his father’s need to revise the published arc of Latin history. Onstage, Leguizamo wears a three-piece, casual suit and sneakers, a professor’s garb, and often stands by coffee mugs filled with pens and such. His jacket comes off and on, and bookcases are filled with files and dusty books.

The Studio 54 stage, renowned for the building’s late 70’s high-spending, clubbing crowd, tonight was a university classroom, and the audience, as students, mostly held huge covered goblets of wine and beer. What better way to open the mind to a Saturday night lecture. We learned about the ancient Mayans, about Cortés, the Spanish Conquistador who conquered the Aztecs, and about Moctezuma, who was roasted by Leguizamo in a very comical segment. Tony Taccone has directed with attention to entertainment and audience engagement, and the hour and one-half-plus flew by quickly. Rachel Hauck, set designer, adds color and shape to the assembled stage props to focus the eye on Leguizamo’s dynamic, dramatized lessons. Alexander Nichols’ lighting and Bray Poor’s sound and music were perfected for the event. The professorial costume with props was well designed by Luke McDonough. Kudos to John Leguizamo for this fantastic, enlightening show.









For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net