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John Leguizamo teaches "Lating History for Morons" at the Fox Theatre

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2019

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John Leguizamo plays nice with others -- otherwise he would not have the lengthy career he's enjoyed as an actor and, with the upcoming "Critical Thinking," a director.

But he does pretty well all by himself, too.

Leguizamo is currently taking performances of his Tony Award-nominated one-man show "Latin History For Morons" on the road, enlightening audiences around the country about the substantial hidden contributions of his people -- from the Inca, Mayan and Aztec civilizations through the every single war the United States has ever waged. It's his sixth solo endeavor, and an exercise the Colombian-born Leguizamo clearly enjoys.

"It's one of the most exciting sort of mediums, the most naked an artist can be with his audience," Leguizamo, 55, says by phone from his home in New York City. "It's my thoughts, my opinions. There's no gatekeepers, there's no committees. It's just as raw and naked as an artist can be."

"Latin History For Mormons" was inspired when Leguizamo saw his sons' school history class textbooks and found no references to Latino culture and heritage. "I started going, 'Wait a minute; It is possible we were a zero?'" Leguizamo recalls. "We're the second biggest ethnic group in America after Native Americans. We're sons and daughters of the American Revolution. Every step of the way we were important and contributing, and it wasn't in any of these books or Hollywood movies or on the History channel."

To write "Latin History for Morons" -- which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play -- Leguizamo "had to sift through thousands of our heroes and accomplishments to find the ones that would be the most poignant, make the most impact." He also knew that comedy would be the best vehicle to give the show is appeal. "I think the easiest way to smuggle this information into history is through humor," he says. "If you make people laugh it puts them at ease and they're a little more open."

And, Leguizamo says, it's been working. "Oh yeah, dude. People tell me they've been transformed. They're not the same person they were when they walked into the theater."

In addition to Leguizamo's tours, "Latin History for Moron" has also become a Netflix special, and he's working on a graphic novel adaptation with Macmillan Publishers that he hopes will come out during late 2020 or early the following year, with "more of the history than I could put in two hours of a one-man show." That's in addition to a Latin superhero team, PhemonX & the Unontrollables, that Leguizamo is currently crowd-funding for a comic book series.

Leguizamo -- who voices a character in the new "Playing With Fire" and has several other film projects in motion -- is also working on his next one-man show, which he says will be a "totally different" kind of enterprise.

"The next show is going to be in comedy clubs," says Leguizamo. "It's just going to be fun, stupid, John Leguizamo fun. I can't help but add some kind of them to the stuff I do, but I want to keep it episodic and just something that's a lot of fun for me and the audience."

John Leguizamo performs "Latin History for Morons" at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. $40 and up. 313-471-6611 or 313Presents.com.

Web Site: www.313Presents.com

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