Friday, October 22nd @ 7:00 pm
Feinstein’s 54 Below
By: Sue Matsuki
Lorna Luft (Vocals)
Colin Freeman (MD/Piano)
Josh Priest (Bass)
Peter Calo (Guitar / Featured Singer)
Jim Donica (Drums)
David Sabella (Featured Singer / Back Up Vocals)
Justice! Sommerville-Adair (Featured Singer / Back Up Vocals)
With a pedigree like Ms. Luft’s, (you know who she is, I want to focus on her in this interview) you go into this show with very high expectations. They are immediately met with the infectious joy that Ms. Luft has just taking the stage. Add to this, her song set, this incredible band, the great food at 54 Below and the gorgeous setting and you have one heck of a night out on the town. Are we not all happy to be back out having a great night out on town?!
Ms. Luft’s program was a walk down memory lane but the difference is, we all sing songs from composers that we love and grew up with but she, actually grew up with these people. They were “family” as she mentioned, the kind who sat around the table and broke bread with her, her mom, sister and brother. You know, people like Johnny Mercer, Jerry Herman, Peter Allen, Ellie Greenwich, Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse who we just lost this past week. This personal connection to these lyricists and composers offered fascinating stories in between each song. I was riveted! Ms. Luft is a part of music history!
Ms. Luft also did something more singers should do…with a program of such great writers, each of whom wrote so many songs, she gave us a “taste” of a few tunes and moved on or she did a taste of a tune as a verse into another tune. Her Mercer Medley was also genius and beautifully arranged, again, offering many of Mr. Mercer’s hits all interwoven in a true medley (not just mashing up tunes) where the songs all flowed in a way to create one lovely story. With 18 songs listed on her Song List and another 8 in the Mercer Medley, she offered us a program of 26 songs in a one hour show. This is the way to do it! Watch and learn!
The band was STELLAR. They sounded like a full orchestra doing justice to Mr. Freeman’s lush arrangements. I also really enjoyed watching the musicians having so much fun on stage. They were all so present in just making music, supporting Ms. Luft and giving the audience a great time. I have to say that while, Ms. Luft has “money notes” for days, when she got small, like in her number with Mr. Calo on “I Could Marry the Rain” (Peter Allen) that started with guitar/vocals only, it was just as exciting as when she was blowing out the big notes. This is where we could see Lorna the actress. She is extremely likable, funny and a wonderful host.
She’s also a generous singer. She presented guitarist Peter Calo in a solo and brought her two, extremely talented “back up” singers to the front and center for solo numbers. Justice! Somerville-Adair (a new rising star) delighted the audience with a youthful “And Then He Kissed Me” (Barry, Greenwich, Spector) and David Sabella (a Broadway veteran and close friend of Ms. Luft’s, and, full disclosure, the Editor-in-Chief of Cabaret Hotspot) sang a touching and newly energized, “The Boy I’m Going to Marry” (also Barry, Greenwich, Spector). Both singers killed their respective solo spots and then stayed to lead the house with Ms. Luft in a few more tunes getting people on their feet clapping and singing back ups with the cast! This sold out audience loved her!
Toward the end of the show, after she tells us a story about how she “fan girled” Ellie Greewich and then became close friends with her, Ms. Luft spoke to us about her journey through Cancer as she puts on a PINK leather hoodie and with nod to all cancer survivors, when she turned I noticed “Never Give Up. Never Give In” written on the back of the jacket along with Angel Wings. She closed the show, with wonderful back ups by her team and the entire audience on, “Chapel of Love” and “Da Doo Ron Ron” (both: Barry, Greenwich, Spector).
If you are looking for a good time and a way to get out of your Covid rut catch Ms. Luft the next time she comes to town. I was completely charmed by her and this show.