Spotlight on Lorin Latarro: Choreographer Edition

In Theatre Trip’s “Spotlight On” series, we’re chatting with some of most inspiring and influential people in the theatre industry. And today we’re doing a special feature on Lorin Latarro – a celebrated Broadway choreographer.

Lorin Latarro has choreographed several incredible Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals, most recently including Waitress, Mrs. Doubtfire, and The Visitor. On top of that, she has performed in 14 Broadway shows, such as FosseSwing!, and A Chorus Line!


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What was it that initially inspired you to step into the world of theatre and dance?

“I always wanted to work on Broadway. I won a dance contest in my first grade classroom and the rest is history! In third grade I saw Broadway’s The King And I and Alvin Ailey at City Center and I was hooked. I remember understanding this would be my home. Training in NYC offered the opportunity to speak to professionals about the realities of show biz from an early age. They were honest with me, and that honesty about this business’s difficulties and rewards helped me navigate early auditions. Juilliard sealed the deal. College taught me how to live as an artist and how to stay connected to the work and the training.”


What was it like getting to do the choreography for Waitress? Were there any surprises or unexpected challenges along the way?

Waitress was a dream come true. Sara Bareilles’s music is so full of emotion and story telling that I had a clear blueprint for the show. The surprise was creating a way to see into Jenna’s daydreams and choreograph her desires. Once we figured that out, it opened up how Waitress moved. The challenge of that show was asking actresses who usually have two feet on the ground while singing, to be lifted high into the air while singing.”


Lorin Latarro.


Tell us about Mrs. Doubtfire.  How is your work here different/similar to your work on Waitress?

Mrs. Doubtfire is quite different than Waitress. Doubtfire has big dance breaks and three production dance numbers! I feel like I get to incorporate a broader range of my choreographic skill set in Doubtfire. Waitress‘s choreography lived inside expressionism and minimalism, but Doubtfire begins with a minimalist first twenty minutes then opens up into a giant, splashy, funny, and sad show.”


What excites you about The Visitor?

“The Visitor is the most political show I’ve been part of, and I am so proud of its message. I am also very excited to work with the creative team. Tom Kitt’s music is, of course, wonderfully inspiring to choreograph. David Hyde Pierce is heartbreaking in the show.  Tom Kitt, Kwame Kwei-Armah, and David Hyde Pierce and I have all worked together before, so we already have a mutual trust built in the room. This allows for bigger risks and honesty.”


Can you share a bit about your process when faced with a new number to choreograph? What are the first one or two things that have to be considered?

“First I look at the scene within the song and the lyrics of the song. I do this BEFORE I listen to the music, mostly because music is seductive and sometimes it seduces me away from story and into style too soon. Once I write down ideas about the emotional state of the actors in the number, and what needs to shift inside a number, then I listen to the music and begin to decide how I want the number to move in order to tell the story it needs to tell.”


Lorin Latarro.


In your opinion, what’s the best part about working as a choreographer?

“I was lucky to work on 14 Broadway shows as a dancer, but I was always cast as the petite spunky dancer woman. Now I get to be tall, skinny, male, female, a star, a child etc, etc! I also love working with actors and dancers. When everyone is in a rehearsal room working on all four cylinders, magic happens.”


Are there any specific musicals that you would love to choreograph one day? What’s on your theatre bucket list?

“I have a few ideas about a new approach to some classic musicals. I also love working on new musicals because the tabula rasa of it all makes me happy and gives me room to imagine! Now that I have a small child, I have some ideas about doing a family show that inspires both adults and children.”


“Keep going. Say yes to anything that inspires you. Make your own work, video that work, and be kind to others in a room.”

What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face in your career so far? 

“Though I had a beautiful career as a dancer, I literally had to start over as a choreographer. Sometimes it was difficult to have the humility to go back to non-union and small regional gigs after being on Broadway. But I did- I started over and here we are…back on Broadway. By assisting others on the way toward choreographing a Broadway show, I got to learn from the best directors in theater. I was paying close attention.”


And what has been one of your happiest career-related moments?

“I am happiest in a room creating with people I trust and feel safe to make bold choices with. Merrily We Roll Along with Fiasco was a favorite. Sondheim would hang around too. I think it’s because he also dug the creative energy surrounding the project.  American Idiot was a favorite, and as a dancer, Movin’ Out and Fosse were both very fulfilling shows as a performer.”


Lorin Latarro.


Can you tell us a bit about Art=Ammo and what inspired you to start this project?

“I feel very strongly about helping America win stronger gun laws. The science is indisputable, but now we have to shift the narrative. Storytelling and empathy are the only tools that shift people’s minds. Arguing and throwing facts in people’s faces doesn’t work. You can go to Art=Ammo to see the choreographic work we do around the country.”


Is there any advice you would like to give to the aspiring dancers and choreographers out there?

“Keep going. Say yes to anything that inspires you. Make your own work, video that work, and be kind to others in a room.”


What’s next for you?

“Mrs. Doubtfire and The Visitor both open this April, then I go back into rehearsals for La Traviata at The Met….then an Almost Famous dance lab…followed by The Outsiders at The Goodman.”


What did you think of this interview with Lorin Latarro?

Are any of you working as or aspiring to be a choreographer? We’d love to hear all about what you’re up to in the comments below! In the meantime, you can check out even more of our interviews with inspiring people in the theatre industry!

You can keep up with Lorin Latarro on Twitter, Instagram, or her website!


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Stacy Karyn, author of Interview with Lorin Latarro.
Author: Stacy Karyn

Stacy Karyn is the founder of Theatre Trip, author of The Thespian’s Bucket List, and creator of The Cast Album List. She has a TESOL drama certificate, a BA in theatre, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.


 

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