Interview: With Waitress, Doubtfire, The Visitor, and More, Lorin Latarro Hits the Ground Running
The prolific choreographer tells us about her new projects.
Is Lorin Latarro the busiest choreographer in the theater industry? Probably. At the time theaters shut down in March 2020, she was working on the following shows: Mrs. Doubtfire, which was in previews on Broadway; The Visitor, which was in rehearsals at the Public Theater; the musical version of S.E. Hinton's seminal The Outsiders, which was gearing up for a run at the Goodman Theatre; the musical version of Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, which was on tap for a Broadway run following a tryout in San Diego; and the worldwide productions of Waitress, among many, many other shows.
The pandemic slowed things way down, but with theaters reopening, Latarro has got her dance card full once again. Mrs. Doubtfire and The Visitor are up and running, Almost Famous is in the workshop phases before a presumed Broadway run in the near future, Waitress is back on Broadway (a delightful surprise), and she's gearing up to direct writer Candace Bushnell in her new off-Broadway solo piece Is There Still Sex in the City? All while raising a toddler with her neurosurgeon husband.
When does she sleep? She probably doesn't. But her love of the game is apparent in every conversation she has.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Coming out of the pandemic and going back into a million different projects, is it like going from zero to a hundred in a flash?
I'm a dancer at heart. It's like, OK, put on the shoes and go. [Laughs]
What is it like working on all of these pieces, which are generally about family and connection, in the wake of the pandemic?
Waitress was a giant gift. When we first did it, I did not have a child, and now I have a 3-year-old. It's a beautiful show and it's a whole different experience [after having a baby]. And inside the work, it's actually quite political in its own way. You know, domestic violence went up by like 60 percent over the pandemic.
The Visitor is [political], too — because it's about undocumented people living in America and getting taken out of America, and though we were all up in arms when people like Donald Trump are in office, this is happening under Biden's watch, too. It's still happening every day. So I can't think of a more important time to do this show, and the piece is gorgeous. It's a close-knit group and we've had really nuanced and intimate conversations surrounding the material.
Mrs. Doubtfire is in great shape. Rob is incredible, and the show really is a special gift to kids of divorced parents. It's all about family and different kinds of families, but it's really nice for kids who had parents who went through a divorce. And the laughter last night made me cry. It felt almost like a religious experience.
How did you and Candace Bushnell join up together?
Candace had wanted to write a musical of Sex and the City and was looking for a director. She was showing David Foster her songs and things, and his producer told her to make it a play about her life, not just another version of Sex and the City. Because she was a really prolific journalist even before she created Carrie Bradshaw as a moniker to tell the truth about women and sex. And that turned into the book, and the book got bought by Darren Starr and HBO, and it went off in a very different direction. I think she interviewed a few directors and the two of us hit it off. There was a lot about what she wrote that I could relate to. You know, the first time I really made any money, I went out and bought a pair of Manolo Blahniks.
How does it feel to finally be finishing up these shows that had been started and then so abruptly finished?
It feels like delivering after a giant gestation period. It feels very important to be part of this reopening, and I'm really lucky to be able to put all of these conversations we're having in the industry inside the work. I'm also getting to fit them inside my own creativity. If I see something in Waitress that I want changed based on my experiences now as a mother, I can do that. The Visitor is all about what's going on in the world. It feels really important. Theater is essential, and I've always believed that we were essential workers. I was one of the crazy people wanting to get back much earlier, because I live with an essential worker. So as an artist, it feels really good.
What does it mean to you as a mother that you got to spend all of that extra time during the pandemic with your daughter?
That was a giant gift. She was turning 2 the week we shut down. So we canceled her birthday party, but instead, I got a year-and-a-half with her in the most formative years of her life. And truthfully, I would have missed so much of it. Partly because of the hours theater requires. So it was a gift to separate myself from, how do I say this? I realized that who I am is not what I do, but I'm still an artist, even when I'm not working.
That's one of the things that I've started thinking about, too, with a child on the way. How making theater, seeing theater, is so difficult for working parents, specifically mothers.
And you'll see, when you have a child, one of the biggest awakenings is your relationship with time. It's as if you never understood time before, and then you have this baby and time becomes so many things. It is your enemy, it is your friend. Every second of the day counts in a different way.
And I'm a better artist for it, too. When I'm with my daughter, I am so present with her, because every minute, they change. It's crazy. Extraordinary. Every hour, she's different. And then when I'm at work, I don't waste a minute because if I'm going to be away from my family, then it better count. When I was younger, work was super fun and I would love to joke around. I had a good time dancing on Broadway. I like being at work. But now, work for me is like, I'm here, let's make every dance step count. What are we trying to say? Why are we saying it? How long are we saying it for? There's more clarity around all of that.