Being the daughter of Judy Garland and producer Sid Luft means that a career in cabaret comes with certain expectations. By no means as big a star as her mother and perhaps not as celebrated as her half-sister Liza Minnelli, Luft is still a hugely engaging and versatile performer, with a strong pedigree and vibrant cabaret persona in her own right. Paired here with her husband Colin Freeman on the piano, Luft appears relaxed and at home in the intimate space and develops an immediate rapport with her audience.
On nodding terms with most of the characters responsible for the Great American Songbook, Luft’s anecdotes keep her audience entertained and her choice of musical numbers reflects a deep affection for the writers including Cole Porter, Dorothy Fields, Burt Bacharach, Jerry Herman and Lorenz Hart.
One of the key elements of Luft’s act is her sense of humour, a trait she is quick to point out she shared with her mother and the similarities don’t end there. Luft’s vocal delivery carries traces of that same vibrato that made Garland’s voice so distinctive, most notably in a segment dedicated to the work of Herman and particularly a searing Time Heals Everything from the composers Hollywood love-story Mack and Mabel.
Amid the welcome standards there are still some surprises to be had, from the complexity of Bacharach’s Alfie, a vocal rollercoaster of a song that Luft belts out with remarkable emotional clarity to the achingly poignant I Don’t Want To Know, a plug for Herman’s Dear World, about to open at the Charing Cross.