This past fall, four Broadway and off-Broadway shows had Lorin Latarro’s name in the credits. She’s the choreographer for Waitress, Mrs. Doubtfire, and The Visitor and directed Candace Bushnell’s Is There Still Sex in the City?. Such a feat may sound next to impossible, but with each show’s start staggered, the theatre artist was able to carve time out of her schedule to focus on one project at a time. The result, she says, has allowed her to expand her repertoire and have a hand in creating “healing” theatre.
Check out an interview between Playbill and Latarro below.
How do you keep variety in the types of shows you’re working on?
I try not to fall into the seductions of a particular type of style or kind of dance. Instead, I go into the circumstance and psychology of the story, and create movement based on the situation of the people and places. For example, with Mrs. Doubtfire, I lean into the laughs and absurd premise of the show. The Visitor is more constrained, so I strive to illustrate one character's sadness through stillness, while the world spins around him. In Waitress, we created lots of dream-like states and played with values of time and speed. Is There Still Sex in the City? has content on a television that behaves as Candace Bushnell's scene partners, so the timing has to be tightly choreographed.
With a show like Waitress, did you return to the theatre for rehearsals to make sure the show was still running smoothly?
I was at every rehearsal through the first week of shows. It was a real pleasure to reconnect with Sara Bareilles, Diane Paulus, and Jessie Nelson. When we originally created the show, I didn’t have a child, so the poignancy of the story took on a whole deeper meaning this time around.
What can fans expect from the dance work they’ll see in Mrs. Doubtfire?
We have five different styles of dance in the show. Rob McClure, along with an incredibly talented cast, tap dance while spatchcocking a chicken, disco dance while designing “the look,” krump as doppelgangers, create an authentic flamenco floor show, and dance the runway of a fashion show.
You mentioned that you know Nora, the woman that Robin Williams based his Mrs. Doubtfire character on. What was your relationship like?
Nora and I would often have lunch together on the plaza when I was a student, so working on the show feels full circle. She was a long time Juilliard front desk monitor. Robin Williams famously came back to our mutual alma mater to watch her interact and speak. Nora was Scottish, wore handknit sweaters, and doled out sage advice to us students, whether we wanted it or not.
What’s it been like working on The Visitor?
While prepping for the show, the creative team visited with detainees in a Queens detention facility where conversations were deeply personal and heartbreaking. It is an important moment for audiences to see The Visitor. People are unceremoniously ripped from their families every day in this country. The show asks us to examine our collective moral obligation and reminds us of our fundamental humanity.
What do you like to bring to shows that you direct?
The rhythm of a show always relates to dance, even if it’s a play. In directing Is There Still Sex in the City?, I want to peel back the layers of Candace’s books and the TV show Sex and the City that we all know so well. A lot of what we all read and watched is taken from Candace's personal life; we get candid about the differences between Carrie Bradshaw and Candace. I focus on dramaturgy, acting beats, overall tone, and speed of the play. Candace is an icon who influenced an entire generation of women, including me.
What’s a day-in-the-life for you?
I wake up at 6 AM and play with my three year old daughter, Arden. We essentially start the day with creative play—a perfect warm-up for my job. There are some days I begin rehearsals at 9 AM and end at 11 PM after noting a performance. It’s grueling at times, but a body in motion stays in motion! I still love to dance, to communicate through movement, so I wake up looking forward to my day. I try to run home on my dinner break to spend time with my family.
After 19 months of a shutdown, how are you learning to restructure your work life?
The balancing act remains high wire, but I try to think of my time in manageable chunks. As a family, we value a purpose-driven life. Telling stories is essential. My husband is a doctor. I believe doctors and artists both respectively heal people. With that responsibility, some sacrifice seems in order.
[Ed. note: This interview ran in the December printed Playbill. Since then, both Waitress and Is There Still Sex in the City? have ended their runs due to COVID-19. The Visitor concluded its extended run at The Public Theater as scheduled December 5 and Mrs. Doubtfire continues to play at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre]