Stylishly dressed in black tux and a sequin lapel on her bare-shouldered jacket, Lorna Luft paid tribute Monday evening at “Lorna’s Living Room” aka Birdland in New York City to three influential female composers who impacted her life: Dorothy Fields, Betty Comden and Laura Nyro. Luft, who began her career at 11 on her mother’s TV show, exhibits a strong stage presence and energy which compensates for any notes she misses. Even off pitch, she can belt out a song and is a sensational entertainer.
She performs a song from the heart and showed us, with enduring lyrics from Fields’ songbook: “Let’s Fall in Love.” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby,” “On The Sunny Side Of The Street,” and “The Way You Look Tonight.” Spicy insider anecdotes added to her performance.
Luft shared her longtime connection to the story of Peter Pan, explaining “I’ve always lived my life with my shadow.” She opened her heartfelt tribute to Comden with “Neverland.” The audience got their money’s worth with that absolutely gorgeous number. This tribute also included “Once In A Lifetime,” “Make Someone Happy,” “Love Is The Answer” and “Just In Time” with a key change from the original, in “Bells Are Ringing.”
Luft recalled the time in 1969 when she was 15, and “Laura Nyro was our voice, what we were going through socially and emotionally.” Special guests, Ann Hampton Callaway and Carrie Manolakos, joined Luft on stage for the tribute to Nyro singing “I Love You So, I Always Will” and “Wedding Bell Blues.” The trio was sensational in their rendition of Laura’s song, “Eli’s Comin’.”
Mannerisms, similar to those of her late mother, Judy Garland, were especially evident when Luft sang “Just In Time.” She was backed up by Nick Davidow on keyboard, Steve Doyle on bass and Daniel Glass on drums. Her husband, conductor and arranger Colin Freeman was on piano. The exceptional show was part of the Broadway at Birdland concert series.
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