Suzanne Petri: Torch, Sass and Swing!

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Suzanne Petri

Torch, Sass and Swing!
A Tribute to the Clubs and Artists Who Made Chicago Great

Davenport’s, Chicago, IL, November 17, 2015

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes

Suzanne-Petri-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212Clearly, the audience of grown-up Chicago homies connected well to Suzanne Petri’s Torch, Sass and Swing–A Tribute to the Clubs and Artists Who Made Chicago Great. Petri shares how she arrived in the Windy City as a young vocalist from Minnesota to sing in a piano bar and quickly become fascinated by Chicago’s iconic musical night spots in their heyday. Audience members nodded and applauded in response as she recalled seeing performances at Mr. Kelly’s, Punchinello’s, The London House, the Chez Paree and more.

Petri’s voice is nicely supported these days as she offers jazz, burlesque, torch, show tunes and more in an effective mix of styles. Highlights included sassy, well-timed comedy in Oscar Brown Jr.’s “The Snake,” and a thoughtful delivery of “I’ll Tell the Man in the Street,” as a salute to Barbra Streisand. Petri flirted with aplomb with ringside audience members in “Always True to You in My Fashion.” Bobbby Schiff delivered effective accompaniment along with his signature cascading jazz riffs.

Petri describes the show as a work in progress and so it is. Her patter is interesting, but at times, a bit rambling. While she has gams for days, the micro mini skirt was problematic when it came to perching on a bar stool to croon. A half-dozen times or so, a second narrator lumbered on stage, moved the mic stand, opened a book, and read just a few lines of history about a particular club or singer, then moved the mic stand back. At times this seemed a bit disconcerting—the dialogue about the clubs and singers might have been better delivered by our chanteuse herself. Closing with a simply delivered “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” was just right.

Carla Gordon

Carla Gordon is a singer/songwriter, director, and producer. The Chicago Tribune cited her among “Chicago’s most accomplished cabaret performers….a major player in Chicago cabaret.” Reviewer Pam Peterson called her “Honey-voiced wisecracker!” Ageless Magazine called her performance as Sophie tucker, “A gem!” Gordon writes custom material for singers nationwide. Her flagship show, "Blacklisted," featuring songs made famous by artists blacklisted under McCarthyism, has toured to critical acclaim. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Cabaret Professionals and on the Advisory Board of the Skokie Theater. Her songs air on WFMT’s Midnight Special and are being performed performed by cabaret artists nationwide.