Given Lorna Luft’s pedigree as the daughter of Judy Garland and half sister of Liza Minnelli, it’s not surprising that the singer and actress attracts a very loyal fan base—and she is grateful for their support, particularly since she was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year. Thankfully, Luft’s treatment has successfully concluded, and she’s headed back to the stage for concerts at New Jersey’s Two Rivers Theater (August 24) and Fire Island’s Ice Palace (August 31). In a recent chat with Broadway.com, an upbeat Luft offered a preview of her show and teased the possibility of a stage reunion with her big sis:
Let’s start with the most important question: How are you feeling?
Everything is going really well. I’ve had surgery and finished my chemo, and I’m looking forward to getting on stage again. That’s what kept me going when I would [slide] into a bit of a pity party. Cancer puts everything into perspective—things that I thought were overwhelming can now fit on the head of a pin.
You have a reputation as a caretaker, so it must have been an adjustment to let other people take care of you.
That was hard. Everybody wants to help, and you learn that it’s ok to take them up on it. My sister was amazing, my brother was great, my husband and kids were extraordinary. My friends in the Broadway community really stepped up, as well. People called, my girlfriend Kerry O’Malley came to my house—Broadway people are so loving. Movies are transient, but when I walk down 45th Street, someone I’ve done a show with will yell, “Hey, Lorna!”
Tell us about the concert you’ll be doing in New Jersey and on Fire Island.
It’s a tribute to the composers whose material I’ve sung on stage: Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who wrote my first Broadway show, Promises, Promises [Luft played Fran Kubelik in 1971]; Rodgers and Hart, because I did the revival of Babes in Arms in the UK; and [lyricist] Dorothy Fields, an amazing woman who wrote everything from “Just the Way You Look Tonight” to “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.”
People may not be aware of how much theater you’ve done in London. Are there any roles you’re longing to play on Broadway?
I know Faith [Prince] is doing it now, but I would love to do a Hannigan [in Annie]. Yeah! But when you say “dream roles,” I think just working in the theater is a dream come true.
From your long list of stage credits, do you have any favorites?
I love Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. I did it for six years, and it’s a show that feels like coming home. And when I did Babes in Arms, I just sat there and listened to one extraordinary song after another. Now you’re lucky if you come out of a show humming the set!
Broadway.com ran a popular Hot Shot of you, Liza and Barry Manilow after your February concert at Birdland. How do you feel about fans who idolize you, your sister and your late mother [Judy Garland]?
Fans are so important—they’re the people who keep us going. When I step on a stage, I don’t think about myself, I think about what will please the audience. It’s expensive to buy a ticket and my job is to give my fans a good time. When I got sick, it was so emotional for me to read all the wonderful messages of hope and prayer on my fan Facebook page. I couldn’t thank them individually, so getting back on stage is my way of saying “thank you.”
Could we ever expect to see you and Liza together in concert?
Yeah, I think you could! It’s not out of the realm of reality. We did that wonderful song on the Tony Awards [in 1993, see clip below], and we talk about [a joint appearance] all the time. Stay tuned to this channel!