BWW Review: LATIN HISTORY FOR MORONS at Cadillac Palace Theatre
Finding a way to entertain and educate can be tricky. When an artist turns educator, there is a certain magic that happens when it's done with amazing skill and clear facts. The genius of John Leguizamo is that he finds a way to marry the two while amusing us, tugging at our heartstrings, and opening our eyes to the impact of the Latin community on American history.
'Latin History for Morons', running only through November 3 at The Cadillac Palace Theatre, is an insightful look at what many history books leave out. Inspired by his son's struggles with his school's "hero project" and his ongoing frustration with bullying, Leguizamo decides to teach him (and us) about the many forgotten Latin men, women, and communities and their influence on American culture. Using an old school chalkboard and actual books (not on Kindle), Leguizamo illustrates how forceful populations were conquered by deceptive European explorers and their countries' leaders.
From the fall of Aztecs and Incas to the true story of misinterpreted historical figures like Christopher Columbus, we learn how once-great civilizations were taken over and destroyed by ruthless quests for power and land gathering. Leguizamo humanizes these individuals and groups in a way that brings more clarity and sense than the stories we all learned in school.
The brilliance of Leguizamo's storytelling also lies in his chameleon capabilities. He gives each person in his story their own identity by changing his voice, body language, and presence. It's not only a master class in Latin history but one in acting. His gifts to us are knowledge, heart, and sincerity. With no stone left unturned in his stellar performance, Leguizamo intensely reminds us, with a single about the Latin community, "We are so American it hurts."
My wish would be for "Latin History for Morons" to tour every school district in America. Not only is it necessary for everyone needing this education, but it's also so important for Latin young people searching for a hero or someone who represents them. John Leguizamo is both. And while he may not want to take that title, he can show the way to many others who may be willing.
LATIN HISTORY FOR MORONS runs through November 3, 2019, at The Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph. Tickets are available via the Broadway In Chicago Ticketline at (800) 775- 2000 or by visiting www.BroadwayInChicago.com.