Spic-o-Rama: A Dysfunctional Comedy | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Spic-o-Rama: A Dysfunctional Comedy

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John Leguizamo got his show-biz break laying a Colombian cocaine prince on Miami Vice. Now he says that series "did more to denigrate the Latin image than all of Jose Canseco's speeding tickets"; but he cashed the check. Identity conflicts, part of the baggage of any actor, are especially troublesome to those who, like Leguizamo, are both burdened and blessed by media stereotypes. Having made a name and some bucks in movies like Die Hard 2 and Hangin' With the Homeboys, the sardonic and volatile comic actor is now focusing on his own work--whose theme is, natch, the ethnic and ethical confusion of being a Latino in the USA. In his off-Broadway hit Mambo Mouth (seen last fall on HBO), the 27-year-old Bogota-born monologuist played seven different men, ranging from Loco Louie, a 13-year-old self-styled "Sperminator," to a tush-twitching transvestite named Manny the Fanny. His new work in progress, in which he makes his Chicago stage debut, is a satiric solo portrait of an ethnically mixed dysfunctional family gathered for a wedding. The people he plays include supermacho homeboy Crazy Willie, a disaffected paraplegic named Javier, and blond-bewigged Gladys, an outrageously careless mother who scolds her whining toddler Miguelito: "If it's your bike, just push her off, that's all. What are you, a boy or a girl?" Leguizamo and his fans claim he's exorcising reactionary images; his detractors charge he's only exploiting them. Judge for yourself. Goodman Studio Theatre, January 16 through 26 (200 S. Columbus, 443-3800). (Previews January 14 and 15; regular schedule and prices.) Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 6 and 9 PM; Sundays, 2:30 PM. $10.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/David Berry.

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