John Leguizamo Explores Latino History in ‘Kiss My Aztec’

Kiss My Aztec BELatina Latinx
Image courtesy of Hartford Stage.

Prolific television, film, and stage actor John Leguizamo clearly knows the importance of history. In his crusade to empower the Latino community, Leguizamo has brought to the stage such plays as “Latin History for Morons,” where he highlighted aspects of Latino history that we often overlook.

Now, his musical “Kiss My Aztec” seeks to go straight to the root, in a sort of Ariadna’s thread that starts from the “beginning of Latin man,” according to NBC News.

It’s the actor’s hilarious take on Hispanic history, Spanish colonization, and indigenous resistance, all in the hands of an all-Latino cast.

Set in the 16th century, “Kiss My Aztec!” tells the story of a band of Aztec warriors leading the resistance against the Spanish conquistadors.

“We have such a wealth of stories that we’ve had for 500 years in America, in Latin America,” Leguizamo said. “Mythology, inventors, scientists, fighters, heroes, and I want those stories to be told, so I sort of picked the beginning of Latin man.”

As NBC continued, the musical includes an Aztec ritual sacrifice set to music, the appearance of a Walter Mercado-like character and a same-sex paso doble, and two clever puppets named Machu and Picchu.

“Musically, it’s like coming to a party at my house,” Leguizamo said. “The music is bachata, cumbia, merengue, ranchera, and we’ve got hip-hop and funk in there, too.”

“Kiss My Aztec” is directed by Tony Taccone, with music by Benjamin Velez and choreography by Mayte Natalio. It features an almost exclusively Latino cast.

The piece premiered on the East Coast at the Hartford Stage “to a well-deserved standing ovation,” Broadway World reported.

Amid the comedy, “Kiss My Aztec” revisits the history of Mesoamerican peoples from the 12th to 16th centuries while drawing parallels to problems in the world today, especially as they relate to immigration and how to approach U.S. history.

“The point is, it shouldn’t be burdensome to address the inequities and tragedies of the past,” the program notes by Leguizamo and David Kamp say. “Through laughter and song, we begin to occupy a space of mutual empathy and understanding. Once you acknowledge that America is imperfect and that your family is a part of its story, you’re down with us — in on the conspiracy.”