Lorna Luft: Triumph!

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Lorna Luft


The Crazy Coqs, London, U.K., December 2, 2015

Reviewed by Mychelle Colleary for Cabaret Scenes

Lorna-Luft-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212Perpetually referred to as Judy Garland’s daughter or Liza Minnelli’s sister, Lorna Luft has been making her own way in the family business for quite a long time. Fortunately, for several years now, that includes her annual December residency at The Crazy Coqs.

If I’m honest, I was indeed curious to see what this younger daughter of Judy Garland would and could do.

As soon as she stepped on the stage, Luft immediately owned it. Oozing the subtle yet compelling confidence that only years of experience can provide, she was and is every inch a true cabaret diva. Even if at first she seemed a bit froggy and pitchy, she eventually settled into singing, occasionally with the recognizable familial wide vibrato belt.

Though I’d not seen her perform before, devotees who had said she was singing better than ever. This improvement was apparently a result of her recent health issues, an accidental but positive side-effect of radical surgery, physically requiring her to back off the hard hitting belt and actually sing with more measured precision and nuance.

In all fairness, Luft is now 16 years older than her mother lived to be.

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In Judy’s last performances, her voice showed signs of fatigue (likely from poor health and pushing vocals out by sheer force of will, beyond health or stamina, for her adoring fans). By comparison, just 13 weeks after major surgery to combat re-occurring breast cancer, Luft has somehow managed to capitalize on not only the physical change, but also some pretty terrific gallows humor.

Significant bits were cut from her. Why not theme most of the show around significant songs that were cut from movies.? Combine that with insider anecdotes only the daughter of Judy, sister of Liza, and goddaughter of Frank Sinatra would know and be able to recount in first person, and you have yourself quite the compelling cabaret show.

Smart and scathingly funny, Luft grips you with her tremendous storytelling. She’s down to earth, likeable, and devil-may-care courageous. She delivers every song with fervent tenacity, the consummate entertainer.

Whilst one could absolutely hear a family resemblance in “Where or When,” I think the better comparisons to Luft’s skills would be Julie Wilson and/or Andrea Marcovicci. Luft possesses the most important of cabaret strengths, the ability to connect with an audience and fully engage with her storytelling (in and out of a song).

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Early on with songs like “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” and “A Cockeyed Optimist”, you realize Luft’s show Triumph! is as much about emotional resilience as it is physical. You can’t escape the feel-good vibe, and a sense of pride almost, in watching someone facing, confronting, enduring and demanding to excel in the face of adversity.

It’s no surprise that Luft would want to debut this very personal show to Crazy Coqs, a place she says feels like home.  A Triumph indeed!

Mychelle Colleary

Mychelle Colleary (native Californian, honorary New Yorker and now Londoner) graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from San Jose State University. Her first professional acting role was at 18 and she worked in theater for two years before attending University. As a jazz vocalist, Mychelle has performed internationally and has shared the stage with greats such as Carl Anderson, Clare Fischer and Bobby McFerrin. She currently divides her time between project management (design & communications) and being on a stage or in an audience. From musical theater to classical to folk rock to jazz to cabaret, Mychelle brings her collective professional experience and insight to reviewing.