John Leguizamo returns to his roots by performing a one-man show, warming up at the Royal George (1641 N Halsted) through February 12. His new solo play Ghetto Klown plans on a twelve week engagement at the Lyceum Theatre (149 West 45th St) in New York on February 21. This gives him only a short time to prepare with the Chicago stint before Broadway. He begins the show dancing to James Brown’s song “Get Up.” Hey, why not channel Ellen DeGeneres and ask the audience to dance with you, John? Coronas were planted onstage for him to drink and his clothing composed of an X-men t-shirt and sweatpants, keeping the approach very laid back. The set was sparse with a kitchen table, chairs and he even made fun of his own telephone without a cord. Some of his character voices were a little shopworn being used in past shows but still very funny. His energy and talents to engage a crowd are as strong as ever.
The story follows John through his humble beginnings in Queens with his family. The video screen is put to good use with photos, scenes from movies and his television show. The Colombian-American actor recounts the early days of auditioning against other Latinos such as Benicio Del Toro and Benjamin Bratt. He even explains his skin tone being kept in the shade by his grandfather when he was young. “Only white Latinos make it on Telemundo.” His mother is hilarious: “Everyone thinks I am a disco puta” and his father has a serious moment with him in the second act. It is a joy to watch all of the past movie roles such as Casualties of War, Executive Decision, and Carlito’s Way. Every fan gets to see behind the scenes on his journey through the silver screen and his disillusionment of the process.
Throughout his career he continually returns to writing and the stage with shows such as Mambo Mouth, Freak and Spic-O-Rama. The outlet has allowed him to grow as a person and we get to see that onstage. His ups and downs with a personal and professional life have left Leguizamo with a lot of material to draw upon.
There may be a few $45 tickets for this weekend left, try 312-988-9000 or www.ticketmaster.com.
If you missed the show visit http://leguizamo.ning.com or http://www.ghettoklownonbroadway.com for ticket information as the show plans on klowning in New York and Canada.