BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
Devoted fans of John Leguizamo are likeliest to appreciate “Ghetto Klown,” his latest solo piece, which opened Tuesday at the Lyceum Theater.
As for everybody else, well, witnessing Leguizamo as he talks on and on – and on – for nearly two and a half hours regarding his well-known Latin-Queens roots and his spotty film career and his messy private life turns out to be an increasingly tiresome example of an egocentric actor getting so wrapped up in his lovely self that he forgets to be entertaining.
Sporting droopy sweats and a Mets cap, Leguizamo dances around the stage energetically, but there’s often a strangely sour taste to the self-absorbed stories he tells.
The early portions of “Ghetto Klown” retreads the same ethnic-family territory Leguizamo explored in previous and far better stage works like “Mambo Mouth” and “Freak.”
Then Leguizamo segues into how he became an actor, blah, Lee Strasberg, blah, “Miami Vice,” blah, and lots more showbiz blah-blah-blah, replete with presumably comic impressions of Seagal, Pacino, Swayze, Penn and DeNiro, among others with whom the actor has shared screen time.
Somehow the stars always come off as jerks in these anecdotes and Leguizamo is the smart one.
There’s much more blather regarding the various ladies in Leguizamo’s life, his ongoing career triumphs and the occasional semi-nervous breakdown he has suffered (complete with movie clips, video bits and some apparently doctored photographs), but let’s leave all that for his fondest fans to savor.
Director Fisher Stevens provides a suitably funky environment involving fire escapes and a billboard-size video screen, but does Leguizamo no favors by permitting him to perform at such excessive length and in such an astonishingly self-centered fashion.
“Ghetto Klown” continues through July 10 at the Lyceum Theater, 149 W. 45th St., New York. Call (212) 239-6200 or visit www.ghettoklown.com.