Songs My Mother Taught Me: Lorna Luft

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Previewed 1 July 2004, Opened 6 July 2004, Closed 21 August 2004 at the Savoy Theatre in London

Lorna Luft's musical tribute to her mother, Judy Garland. This lovingly staged theatrical extravaganza melds one of America's most familiar songbooks with the intensely personal, often riotously funny story of a mother and her daughter. For the first time, Lorna approaches her mother's legendary songbook and the result is a truly phenomenal celebration of Judy Garland's musical genius.

"The time has come for a celebration of my mother's musical legacy, This is a real labor of love" - Songs My Mother Taught Me features new musical arrangements of Judy Garland's classic orchestrations and is written and directed by the Emmy winning team of Mitzie and Ken Welch. The show also pays homage to some of the composers, performers and pals who were part of Judy Garland's life including Harold Arlen, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.

"Billed as Songs My Mother Taught Me, it loosely strings songs (largely) from Judy Garland's repertoire through a whistle-stop tour of Lorna Luft's life. This is catharsis as only California can craft it: ushered in by the roll of kettle drums and thunderous orchestral crescendos. Luft's relationship with her mother is painted in broad, often schmaltzy strokes. But while harmonising with wonderful footage of Garland singing I Can't Give You Anything But Love ought to be unbearably saccharine, it's actually so bizarre you get a tangible sense of the strange extremes of these lives. A breathless medley of songs titled for cities conveys the bewilderment of the child who attended 17 different schools. Yes, the show is purest showbusiness. It's also incontrovertible proof of the maxim that camp is a lie that tells the truth." The Guardian

"Bearing in mind how many grisly headlines her half-sister Liza Minnelli has generated recently, Lorna Luft can be forgiven for wanting to accentuate the positive. Unfortunately, her tribute to her mother, Judy Garland, offers more treacle than insights, the memories wrapped up in bland patter that seldom rises above the level of a People magazine profile... The good news about this evening is that she has no end of terrific songs at her disposal, and she shares her mother's talent for taking a number to a seat-shaking conclusion, the miniature big band directed by her husband, Colin Freeman. Lacking Garland's subtlety and vulnerability, however, Luft tends to belabour the melodies, her eyes fixed on the big climax." The Times

"The problem with Lorna's solo show is essentially that it belongs in the kind of venue where Garland impersonators are always on the bill, and where we could have watched Lorna while sitting drinking at tables. Sitting in serried stalls at the Savoy Theatre, and at Savoy Theatre prices, the whole show - despite a sizeable orchestra - looks lost. Nor is it brilliant of the writers and directors, Mitzie and Ken Welch, to insist on quite so many video clips of Judy herself. All they do is remind us that the daughter is never quite going to be the mother... She is a perfectly adequate big-band singer, ideal for a lounge act in Las Vegas, but with none of the sheer theatricality that was her mother's principal stock in trade... If what you are after is a bigband evening in the company of an amiable singer who has learnt her trade watching rather too many others, then Songs My Mother Taught Me is perfectly adequate across two rather over-orchestrated hours. But if what you were hoping for was some real insight into Judy Garland as mother and musician, then look elsewhere." The Daily Express

Songs My Mother Taught Me: Lorna Luft in London at the Savoy Theatre previewed from 1 July 2004, opened on 6 July 2004 and closed on 21 August 2004.