"Lorna likes the loud ones," her mom, Judy Garland, used to say.
She still does. Lorna Luft came to Carnegie Hall over the weekend to belt out some "loud ones" in honor of her late mother, marking the 50th anniversary of Garland's famous April 23, 1961 concert there _ a night many fans consider positively legendary.
Luft, who was in the original cast of "Promises, Promises" and still sounds uncannily like her mother at moments, joined three other accomplished Broadway singers in recreating the great concert, song by song. Conductor Steven Reineke and the New York Pops kept scrupulously true to the original arrangements and keys of each number.
Garland's original performance, during which fans jammed the aisles and even rushed the stage, was recorded and received a fistful of Grammy Awards, including album of the year. She was 38, and had recently recovered from a devastating case of hepatitis, giving the night the aura of a big comeback.
The singers at the weekend event included Ashley Brown, Broadway's original (and current again) Mary Poppins; Heather Headley, of "Aida" and "The Lion King"; and Karen Olivo, of "In the Heights" and "West Side Story."
They tackled such Garland classics as "The Trolley Song," "Get Happy," and "Chicago (That Toddling Town)." Headley delivered a scorching "Stormy Weather," Olivo shone on "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart," and Brown drew cheers for a gorgeously sung "Over the Rainbow," the young Garland's signature song, of course, from "The Wizard of Oz."
As for Luft, she belted out "The Man That Got Away" and "Come Rain or Come Shine," then got a standing ovation for "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby (With a Dixie Melody)" _ the song, she joked, that Mom always sang to satisfy Lorna's penchant for "the loud ones." (Garland's older daughter, Liza Minnelli, who turned 65 over the weekend, was not at the show.)
Luft and Minnelli both had been at the 1961 concert, along with Garland's youngest child, son Joey Luft, not to mention actor Rock Hudson and a myriad of other celebrities.
"My mother came on this stage and turned this hall upside down, and I was there," Luft, now 58, told the crowd. Referring to the fan mania surrounding her mom that night, she added: "I had never seen grown-ups acting that way in my life."
Garland died eight years later, in 1969, of a drug overdose. She was 47.