Grammy- and Oscar-winning rock icon Bruce Springsteen and Emmy winner John Leguizamo, the electrifying downtown theatre artist-turned-film star, can now count a Tony Award among their accolades. Both artists will receive Special Tony Awards for their solo runs on Broadway this season, each of which told a unique and compelling story about the American experience.
Springsteen made his Broadway debut last fall, treading new territory with Springsteen on Broadway, an intimate blend of autobiographical solo play and acoustic concert that’s been sold out since previews began October 3 at the Walter Kerr Theatre.
One of the hardest-to-come-by tickets of the season, Springsteen on Broadway opened to raves October 12, earning acclaim from both theatre and music critics. Originally billed as an eight-week limited engagement, Springsteen extended his run three times. The Boss will now spend an entire year on Broadway, with performances scheduled through December 15.
The 68-year-old musician performs five shows a week, switching from piano to guitar as he recounts his coming of age in Freehold, New Jersey. The evening is built from Springsteen’s 2016 memoir Born to Run.
Leguizamo returned to Broadway last November with his play Latin History for Morons, an irreverent and powerful solo show that sheds light on the crucial roles Latino people have played in American history—a history that has been ignored in text books and classrooms across the country.
“MacMillan textbooks are made in Texas, so there you go. Arizona just blocked Mexican studies from their schools. How do you do that? Arizona was Mexico. A majority of the people there are Mexican,” Leguizamo told Playbill. “The fact that 20,000 Latin people fought in the American Civil war… and we had the first admiral in the United States Navy, David Farragut… Where is that? You don’t see any of that stuff.”
From Aztec and Incan culture to overlooked contributions of Latin patriots in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and beyond, Latin History for Morons crammed 3,000 years of history into a fast-paced 90-minute evening.
Leguizamo was just 26 years old when his explosive and incisive solo play Mambo Mouth premiered Off-Broadway to a flurry of rave reviews. Hailed as a promising playwright-actor with a preternatural ability to transform himself into a multitude of characters onstage, the fearless Colombian-born artist reshaped the definition of solo theatre, and has gone on to push artistic and cultural boundaries on stage and screen as a playwright, screenwriter, actor, and producer, and beyond.
Latin History for Morons marked Leguizamo’s sixth solo venture, following his success on Broadway with Ghetto Klown, Sexaholix…A Love Story, and Freak (he earned Tony nominations for writing and starring in the latter), as well as Off-Broadway's Mambo Mouth, and Spic-O-Rama. Mambo Mouth, Spic-O-Rama, Freak, and Ghetto Klown all went on to be filmed for presentation on HBO.
Latin History for Morons ended its extended Broadway engagement in February.