The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings

A CurtainUp Review
Latin History For Morons on Broadway
John Leguizamo returns to New York, but this time at Broadway's Studio 54. For him, unlike other actors moving from downtown to uptown is not a new experience since most of his previous solos played on the Great White Way. Since nothing has changed except the venue, we're reposting our review of the original production below-- with updated production notes. a Theater.

Settle down. We have a lot of work to do tonight. — John Leguizamo
laltin history
John Leguizamo (Joan Marcus)
The above quote is how John Leguizamo begins his solo show now at the Public Theater in which we " morons" are about to get a healthy dose of his comically acerbic, blisteringly/documented data on how and why our country's Latin-Americans presumably continue to harbor a low regard of themselves.

The writer/performer of such stand-out solo shows as Mambo Mouth, Spic-O-Rama, Ghetto Klown has plenty to say about the lack of respect and recognition due his own people (Columbian and Puerto Rican in his case) for a race and for a culture that can be traced back to the indigenous people of Mexico and through all the Americas.

He takes us on a circuitous and definitely catastrophe filled journey, beginning with the Mayan civilization around 1,000 B.C. up to the present. Into this he weaves a discursive narrative in which he fondly lectures to his middle-school-aged son (unseen). His attempt to educate the boy as well as build up his self-esteem after being bullied at school and called a "beanie" is a daunting project.

Aware that his son is in danger of flunking history and in need of finding a hero for his own history project, Leguizamo finds the answers he needs in the books that are piled helter-skelter on the floor and on shelves in what looks vaguely like a schoolroom. The scenic design created by Rachel Hauck is most notable for the large blackboard on which Leguizamo charts the facts and figures, often funnily misspelled.

Except for the what he knows about the conquest of the New World by King Philip of Spain, he admits to being dismayed by the lack of Latin-American history taught when he went to school. He expounds on the numerous famous Spanish explorers such as Cortez and Pizarro and especially the blood-thirsty and horny Conquistadors who came to the Americas to conquer and plunder for gold . He doesn't leave out their legacy of disease and bestiality. This did make me wonder if his suggesting that the Incas rather swishy King Moctezuma and Cortez had a fling isn't what causes his son to at one point slam his bedroom door on his over-zealous Dad.

Our professor's more sordid considerations are toned down a notch during the effort to build the boy's self-esteem and meaningfully enrich his basic lack of knowledge regarding the Latin contributions to the arts, sciences and, indeed, politics. He indirectly, but also ferociously, addresses the anti immigrant rhetoric that is surfacing thanks to our current President.

I'm not sure that I connected all the dots between Christopher Columbus's agenda and that of Trump. It was easier to feel our narrator's anger and angst when he tries to neutralize, actually deplore, the new wave of bigotry of those who see Mexicans as rapists, murderers and bad people.

One episode in which Leguizamo pricks up our ears is his story about the very real Cuban-American Loreta Velazquez who fought for the Confederates dressed as a man. This provided an opportunity for Leguizamo to do some very funny cross-dressing. In fact, he never misses an opportunity to share his flair for dress-up and sexually provocative activities, much to the delight of his fans. There is an especially lot of joy in his exuberant dancing through an almost complete recap of Latin-music and dance.

There is no question that Leguizamo, under the direction of Tony Taccone, loves to perform and loves himself as a performer — a not-too-feeble posture to take when doing a solo show.

I did carry away from this alternately scathing and scholarly seminar the revived sorrow that must be shared by all immigrated Americans — our country's genocidal mission with regard to the native Americans.

If you asked me whether I learned a lot from this overly long and also capriciously foul-mouthed 100 minute discourse, I would have to say no. On the other hand, maybe Leguizamo Junior would say yes.

Search CurtainUp in the box below Back to Curtainup Main Page

The show is now at Studio 54
254 West 54th Street
From 10/19/17; opening 11/15/17; closing 2/04/18. Review here covers the previous production
Latin History for Morons
Written and Performed by John Leguizamo
Scenic Design: Rachel Hauck
Lighting Design: Alexander V. Nichols
Original Music and Sound Design: Bray Poor
Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes no intermission
Studio 54
254 West 54th Street
From 10/19/17; opening 11/15/17; closing 2/25/18. Review by Simon Saltzman based on original production on 03/23/17

Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Latin History For Morons
  • I disagree with the review of Latin History For Morons
  • The review made me eager to see Latin History For Morons
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted at to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter

©Copyright 2017, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from