John Leguizamo brings 'Latin History for Morons' to Chicago
Actor/writer/comedian John Leguizamo can't wait to get back to Chicago with the national tour of "Latin History for Morons."
The Bogota, Colombia-born Emmy and Tony Award-winner brings his acclaimed 2017 Broadway show to the Cadillac Palace Theatre for seven performances starting Tuesday, Oct. 29.
"Chicago has always been an incredible supporter of my work," said Leguizamo, who established his performing career via outrageous one-man shows where he would play multiple characters. "(Chicago) was my grand awakening and where I used to test all my shows."
Indeed, the Goodman Theatre hosted a couple of Leguizamo's envelope-pushing plays before they moved to New York. He also performed at Chicago's Royal George Theatre in 2010 with a show that would later become his 2011 Broadway play "Ghetto Klown."
Like all of Leguizamo's solo shows, "Latin History for Morons" grew out of a visceral need to artistically right both personal and societal slights. In this case, it was Leguizamo finding out that his junior high school-aged son was being bullied by classmates about his Latin heritage.
"I wanted to give (my son) ammunition to fight back verbally and not physically: Latin facts, Latin contributions and Latin heroes," Leguizamo said. "I went into his eighth-grade history textbook and I couldn't find a name or a date, a hero or a factoid. I was outraged."
Leguizamo started his research online and then turned to libraries and historians. It was not only to educate his son, but also himself.
"I was transformed by the information. I felt, 'Oh my God, this has to be a show,'" Leguizamo said. "I have to get this to my people and to America because the history books we're looking at are without all the facts."
The cross-country process of creating "Latin History for Morons" was captured in the 2018 documentary "John Leguizamo's Road to Broadway," which aired on PBS last November. In his efforts to find the right balance of historical facts, personal anecdotes and broad humor, Leguizamo developed his show in both basement comedy clubs and professional regional theaters.
Leguizamo plays all sorts of historical characters, from the Aztec ruler Montezuma to Latin soldiers who served in major American wars.
"We're the sons and daughters of the American Revolution. We built and bled for America, and America wouldn't be America without Latinx contributions," Leguizamo said, using the newer and gender-neutral term "Latinx" to be more inclusive.
Leguizamo started working on his show before Donald Trump's presidential election, but then "Latin History for Morons" developed into something of a critical rallying cry.
"It's a moral, ethnic correction for the vilification that is coming from the White House," Leguizamo said. "Our contributions to saving and making America are just so huge and we're not thanked for them."
"Latin History for Morons" has been preserved both as a Netflix special and as a downloadable Audible audio book. But Leguizamo is heartened by the live audiences turning out for his tour, which has partnered with voter registration drives and attracted attention from politicians including U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, the twin brother of Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro.
"People are coming back three or four times, coming with all their family and their children," Leguizamo said. "I feel like going around the country, I can influence and change people's minds and hearts."
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"Latin History for Morons"
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, Oct. 29-Nov. 1; 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3
Where: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago, (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago. com