Follow John Leguizamo’s path to the Great White Way with his Tony-nominated play, Latin History for Morons, a comedic yet pointed look at the systematic repression of Latino culture throughout American history
John Leguizamo’s Road to Broadway follows the always provocative Leguizamo as he prepares for his most challenging theatrical quest yet – cramming 3,000 years of Latino history into 90 minutes of stage time for his one man show. With extraordinary access to his creative process, the film traces the evolution of his latest success, Tony-nominated play Latin History for Morons, from its challenging premise through its triumphant debut. A special co-presentation of Great Performances and Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES, John Leguizamo’s Road to Broadway, directed by Ben DeJesus, premieres nationwide Friday, November 16 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). The film will be available for streaming on November 17 at pbs.org/gperf and on PBS apps.
Inspired by real life, the show begins when Leguizamo’s son gets a school assignment on heroes, and Leguizamo embarks on a quest to find him a Latino hero to celebrate. In the process, he delivers an irreverent crash course in 3,000 years of buried history, with Leguizamo acting all of the characters. Along the way, he uncovers provocative truths that shock even him.
Infused throughout the documentary is Leguizamo’s special brand of humor and willingness to expose himself personally, a rare combination that has made him a unique force in American theater, from his debut show Mambo Mouth through a string of successes that include Spic-O-Rama, Freak, Sexaholix…a Love Story and Ghetto Klown. The road to his ultimate goal – making Latin History for Morons his next Broadway hit – unfolds in a cross-country adventure that not only offers an intimate look into the journey of a singular artist, but also shines a light on the rarely-told stories of Latino heroes who made their mark on America. As opening night approaches, Leguizamo navigates the challenges of writing (and re-writing) history lessons meant to both enlighten and entertain.
Featuring interviews with Rita Moreno, Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke, Ruben Blades, director Tony Taccone and the Public Theater’s Artistic Director Oskar Eustis, along with exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the one-man show taking shape, the film follows Leguizamo’s process – from his early research, to his first-ever comedy club tour, through workshops of the show – culminating in performances at the historic Public Theater and on Broadway.
“We’re delighted to present this insightful, funny and moving new documentary with Great Performances,” said Sandie Viquez Pedlow, executive producer of LPB’s VOCES. “John Leguizamo has transformed the Latino stage experience and this film gives us an invaluable inside look at a true genius at work.”
“We’re honored to include John Leguizamo as part of our ‘Broadway’s Best’ lineup this year,” said David Horn, executive producer for Great Performances. “We believe viewers will love the inside look into not only the play’s creation, but also into the brilliant mind of Leguizamo, an artist who is making his own mark on Broadway history.”
John Leguizamo’s Road to Broadway is a production of NGL Studios, in association with THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET and Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Sandie Viquez Pedlow is executive producer for VOCES and LPB. For Great Performances: Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.
Great Performances is produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. Throughout its more than 40-year history on public television, Great Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming.
Produced by Latino Public Broadcasting, VOCES is the signature Latino arts and culture documentary showcase on PBS, and the only ongoing national television series devoted to exploring and celebrating the rich diversity of the Latino cultural experience. The series is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Major funding for John Leguizamo’s Road to Broadway is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for Great Performances is provided by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, the Irene Diamond Fund, Rosalind P. Walter, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, The Agnes Varis Trust, The Starr Foundation, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Ellen and James S. Marcus, The Abra Prentice Foundation, and PBS.
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station and parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, home to ALL ARTS. WNET also operates NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its broadcast channels, three cable services (THIRTEEN PBSKids, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, the new nightly interview program Amanpour and Company and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings. WNET’s groundbreaking series for children and young adults include Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase as well as Mission US, the award-winning interactive history experience. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique issues and culture through NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, NYC-ARTS, Treasures of New York, Theater Close-Up, and WLIW Arts Beat. WNET creates online-only programming, including the award-winning series about gender identity, First Person. Through multi-platform initiatives Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America and Peril and Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change, WNET showcases the human stories around these issues and promising solutions. The weekly program SciTech Now explores the nexus of new ideas in science and technology. Through THIRTEEN Passport and WLIW Passport, station members can stream new and archival THIRTEEN, WLIW and PBS programming anytime, anywhere.
About Latino Public Broadcasting
Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) is the leader in the development, production, acquisition and distribution of non-commercial educational and cultural media that is representative of Latino people, or addresses issues of particular interest to Latino Americans. These programs are produced for dissemination to public broadcasting stations and other public telecommunication entities. Latino Public Broadcasting provides a voice to the diverse Latino community throughout the United States and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Latino Public Broadcasting produces the series VOCES, the signature Latino arts and culture documentary showcase on PBS and the only ongoing national television series devoted to exploring and celebrating the rich diversity of the Latino cultural experience. Between 2009 and 2018, LPB programs won over 111 awards, including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award as well as two Emmys, Imagen Awards and the Sundance Film Festival Award for Best Director, Documentary. In addition, LPB has been the recipient of the Norman Lear Legacy Award and the NCLR Alma Award for Special Achievement – Year in Documentaries.
Chelsey Saatkamp, WNET
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Mary Lugo/CaraMar Inc., for Latino Public Broadcasting
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