There’s something entertaining and empowering about seeing four gal-pals in action, from “Sex and the City” (1998-2004) and “Girlfriends” (2000-2008) to “Girls” (2012-2017). Now, meet four friends from the 1950s in A Taste of Things To Come, which debuts in Chicago this month. Written by Debra Barsha and Hollye Levin, the original musical comedy about a Betty Crocker club features an all-female cast and creative team, including director/choreographer Lorin Latarro, who talked to Rebellious.
Janet Arvia: You choreographed the Broadway and national tours of “Waitress.” What attracted you to “A Taste of Things To Come”?
Lorin Latarro: It is simultaneously very funny and poignant. The women on stage represent women in America from prior decades, and yet, their experiences feel extremely relevant and even prescient for today. I also fell in love with the music.
The musical comically looks at a repressed yet evolutional time period (1950s-1960s) for women in America. How do you think it mirrors today?
The sixties especially feel similar to 2018 in many ways: a giant leap forward inside an oppressive and divisive political climate, with women leading a cosmic shift of social norms. I believe the #MeToo movement is an extension of the work Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan began. Today, with social media, the word gets out much faster! It will be a curious thing to look upon this current decade, five decades from now. Maybe by then, salary parity will be a reality.
Although no stranger to period pieces (you’ve worked on “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” with Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber), what process do you use to translate the mood and movements of a historic time to contemporary audiences?
I research the colloquial dance steps of the era, watch lots of old videos and emulate the feel and style of the period. You will see the mashed potato, twist, jitterbug in Act One and lots of Hullabaloo-esque groovy steps in Act Two. I supplement the choreography with my own dance vocabulary to keep the story moving and to keep it unique. The songs are so catchy that it’s easy to choreograph, and audiences will surely be bopping along. I also tried, as the director, to differentiate the two acts in a meta way. Act One has more fun, pastiche numbers and is more performative. In Act Two, just like in the sixties, we get more introspective and real onstage. The staging grows from the revelations.
You founded ART = AMMO, Artists Against Gun Violence (artammo.org) because you believe artists have the ability and responsibility to inspire change.
I believe great theater is inherently political. I would encourage artists to choose material that speaks to them and work that has the potential to open minds and shift rigid ideas. Our show does just that!
“A Taste of Things To Come” performs through April 29 at Broadway In Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. For tickets and details, visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.