by John Leguizamo.
Charing Cross Theatre The Arches Villiers Street WC2N 6NL To 12 November 2011.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 0207 907 7075.
Review: William Russell 29 October.
A wild ride from Broadway to Hollywood – and back.
John Leguizamo’s Hollywood career – he almost made it as a star in films like 1995’s To Wong Fu Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar with Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes – his family life, and his repeated one-man shows on and off Broadway provide the material for this hilarious and diverting show.
Leguizamo seems to have boundless energy – his dance routines are exhausting to watch – and he can tell a story, managing along the way to deliver devastating accounts of appearing alongside that great cinematic talent, Steven (direct-to-video) Seagal, the incomparable Al Pacino (he was in Carlito’s Way) who gave him lessons in screen acting (less being more) , and working for directors like Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge in which he was Toulouse Lautrec and Romeo and Juliet in which he played Tybalt) and Brian de Palma.
He also recounts his upbringing in Queens – his family comes from Colombia – and life on the New York theatrical fringe, where he discovered his talent for writing and performing one-man shows (much to his parent’s annoyance, as they tended to feature in them), his drug taking, drinking and nervous breakdown, as well as his three wives.
Directed by Fisher Stevens this latest instalment of his life story comes garlanded with Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Circle awards and deservedly so. It all gets a bit sentimental towards the end – as always with Americans who are hyperactive, there are issues with Father, which get resolved just in time – but that is not so much a flaw as a difference of cultures.
He got a standing ovation the night I saw it, and unlike the usual standing ovations on first nights when friends at the front get up, forcing those behind to do the same, it was genuine. The rollercoaster ride had been breathtaking. Long may he carry on telling tales – although his children may feel much like his parents did when he starts telling us about them.
Performer: John Leguizamo.