By Brandon HENSLEY
Concert goers to Glendale’s Alex Theatre this month will have a chance to see an accomplished vocalist (and well-known celebrity offspring) help usher in a new Pops series, produced with the New West Symphony’s Classical Masterpiece Series.
Lorna Luft, daughter of famed entertainer Judy Garland and producer Sid Luft, will be the guest star vocalist during the Sept. 16 show, “From Broadway to Hollywood – In Concert.” Luft will also perform the same show on Sept. 19 at the Kavli Theatre in the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.
That date will open the 16th season of the New West Symphony, and will be the inaugural concert of the New West Pops.
Steve Goldstein, the show’s director and a friend of Luft, asked her to be in the show and she “jumped” at the opportunity.
“In a time when symphony orchestras are struggling so much and a lot of them that I’ve worked with have gone under,” Luft said, “you really think to yourself, ‘This is tragic, that the arts are getting cut and the funding is getting cut and the school programs don’t have any music in them and all that. So when you get the opportunity to work with a symphony, grab it.’”
Luft will be performing popular songs from musicals and films such as “A Star is Born” and “Babes in Arms,” as well as songs from her award-winning show and album “Songs My Mother Taught Me – A Celebration of the Music of Judy Garland.”
Luft said narrowing down the song selections can be one of the hardest parts of doing a show. “It really is weeding out what I think will be a perfect program for these shows, so that’s what you do. You have to put a lot of thought into what [the audience is] listening to, what they want to hear and what you want to sing.”
Now 57, Luft said she still gets nervous before shows. “Oh, yeah,” she said. “I find the older I get my nerves are more heightened.” She added, “I’ve talked to many performers [who agree] that the older we get the more frightened we get.”
Luft’s personal intentions are to keep performing as long as possible, because at age 12 she knew she wanted to do this for the rest of her life. The other side, though, is about setting an example to younger performers. She said she wants young stars to be influenced, but not to imitate. This is the example she tries to set while carrying after her mother.
“What I’m doing is saying thank you,” she said about Garland. “I’m never going to compete against my mom because there isn’t anybody that’s ever going to be like her. So I’m not competing against anything. I’m sharing with an audience what she left me. Not only me but to everybody.”
Luft is a Southern California native. She has performed on Broadway and in London, but so far has never appeared at the Alex Theatre.
“It’s a gorgeous venue,” she said. “You look at these light fixtures, and you look at this, and also the history behind this theatre, that Charlie Chaplin used to come and have things here … it’s just part of history, that if you could sort of step into, you’d think, ‘How lucky is this, they haven’t torn it down.’”
After performing with the New West Symphony, Luft will be going to China in the fall for the World Expo in Shanghai and is excited to visit the Great Wall. But even doing press junkets all day is never a boring thing for the long-time performer.
“This is what we do,” she said. “This is a good day. A bad day is when nobody calls.”
“From Broadway to Hollywood – In Concert” will be held Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25, $59 and $69.50 and can be purchased by calling the Alex Theatre Box Office at (818) 243-ALEX or online at www.alextheatre.org.