Susan Werner Takes Us For A Wonderful Musical Journey At The Auditorium Theatre

Reviewed by: Russell Goeltenbodt

It is always refreshing to attend concerts that include a variety of music. It is especially delightful when the music is original, well written, smart and extremely entertaining. All of this is true when experiencing the musical expertise of Susan Werner at Roosevelt University’s Auditorium Theatre Concerts on Stage.

Susan who brings her variety of folk, jazz, blues and pop to the stage, had the audience captivated for almost 2 hours. Susan, reminding me a little of Melissa Etheridge, and Carole King, definitely holds her own without imitating either of these two artists. Additionally, Susan gives them a run for their money with her creative musical style, and her interesting lyrics. Susan is a musical superstar in every sense of the word.

I really enjoy all kinds of music. I tend to I lean more toward the cabaret community, musical theater and standards. However, I must admit that I really enjoyed seeing and listening to Ms. Werner’s original songs that provide an incredibly interesting journey of music. Her song list for this concert includes stories about growing up as a farmer’s daughter in Iowa, travelling and experiencing the charm of Cuba, music about the story of Bull Durham which Susan is hoping to produce on Broadway, and adding some funny and clever songs about Chicago, cosmetic surgery, and her favorite beer. All of which, kept my attention and made me smile, along with the entire sold out audience.

Susan, who is no stranger to the Auditorium Theatre, returned for her 9th appearance where the audience sits on stage and faces the beautiful house of the historic 127 year old theatre. Performing on the stage provides a very intimate setting for Susan’s concert. At one point, Susan sang “Night Sky”, During this song she speaks of her father and grandfather and her farmer heritage while looking at the sky in Iowa. Susan then says, “Look out at the theatre you can see the stars through the beautiful lights. This was truly a beautiful moment.

Other wonderful moments included the song “The Best Part of Your Life” where the ballad reflects about all of the good things in your life and what you look forward to and embrace. This was actually my favorite song of the evening. Susan also provided a clever “revised” version of the Lord’s Prayer which closed the first half of the concert. The peppered lyrics included current life and events of where the world is right now. My favorite lyrics from the song are “please deliver us from those who think they’re you”, pointing out some of our political candidates. She then called attendance from all faiths where she focused on the Catholic church singing “please allow every girl into the priesthood and remind the pope he could be a girl”  So true and so clever!

The highlight of the concert was Susan’s songs about Cuba where she visited and obviously enjoyed. Susan was joined by her incredibly talented Cuban born percussionist, Myra Cassales. The amazingly and talented Myra performed with various percussion instruments that you don’t see every day. They included the conga drums, maracas, rain sticks and small chimes. Myra’s talented beat added to the concert especially during the Cuba set, where she filled the theater with her Latin beat and charm. Susan’s Cuba songs included, “Cuba Is”, “Cuban Coffee with lots of sugar” (which has Spanish title), Neath the Havana Moon, and Stray Dogs”. All of the songs are filled with great lyrics. I love the lyrics from “I’ll Be Cuban”, “When you’re in a 1955 Chevy Bel Aire” where the song looks at Cuba’s vintage cars, communist life style, and Cuba’s life. This song made the audience believe they were with Susan on her journey.

Also on stage was bass player, Kurt Bley, who was able to come in to replace Susan’s regular bass player hours before the concert. Kurt is a true professional and helped to create the combined sound with Susan and Myra. By the way, Susan began as a guitarist but also proves to be a master of the keyboard. She is simply outstanding!

The concert which included two encores of “Make Someone Happy” and “Sway” was joined by a surprise guest. Auditorium Theatre historian Blaine Alexander who joined Susan and tapped danced to the encores that ended her concert on a fantastic high note.

I had the opportunity to meet Susan after the concert. I’ll have to say that she is truly as genuine as her music, and extremely charming.

I highly recommend seeing this amazingly talented musician. Susan’s songs are will captivate and take you away, leaving you with a big smile.