WOZ: A Rock Cabaret @ Victory Gardens
by Rand Ringgenberg (Chicago Stage Standard - July 21, 2014) 3 stars out of 4
There are probably very few people who are not familiar with the MGM classic film . The L. Frank Baum story has probably spawned more books, films, musicals, and plays, then any other source material. Luckily for us it is also now the inspiration for, the clever and often hilarious production, of now playing for a very limited engagement at the Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theatre.
WOZ: A ROCK CABARET is Divinity Anthropomorphized
by Dave McGuire (Showbiz Chicago - June 20, 2014)
As this is a musical performance I must call out a few of the songs, The Wizard (Scott Gryder; who also directs) singing Michal Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”, was divinity. The guy looks the Perfect Peewee Herman Nerd, and you cannot help but laugh, was a definite highlight. The Tin Man (James Nedrud) “I Wanna Know What Love Is,” as Dorothy and the Scarecrow (Kevin Webb, whose facial contortions had me chuckling all night) somewhat sexually lube him up from an “Oil Can,” is one of those pee yourself moments. I loved how the Winkie Soldiers (David Lipshultz, and the gorgeous, Sarah Wurz,) who if you do not know are the witches palace guards, turned the “Oh Eee Oh”, chant from the movie into New Kids On the Block’s “Hanging Tough”. However, the Wicked Witch was an all-consuming presence the second she hits the stage. No matter what song she was singing, or what part of the story line we were in she took you into her, beat the sh*t out of you, and puked you back out with an evil cackle and a shine in her eye. What a performance!
Texas Tech Alumnus Wins Second Daytime Emmy
Scott Gryder serves as actor, puppeteer, singer and makeup artist for this children's television show.
by Zoe Bell (Texas Tech Today - June 26, 2014)
After receiving his third nomination, Scott Gryder has won his second Daytime Emmy Award for the children’s television show, “Green Screen Adventures.” Gryder is thankful to receive this award and said it was his experience at Texas Tech University that gave him the tools to become a wellrounded performance artist.
“Along with this thorough education, the encouragement from professors and staff gave me the confidence to believe in myself as an entertainer and a creative person in the world outside of Texas Tech,” Gryder said.
“Green Screen Adventures” performs the stories provided by elementary school students in order to bring their writing to life and promote literacy. Gryder serves as an actor, puppeteer, singer and makeup artist for this television show.
“I actually never had the intention to work in television,” Gryder said, “but with the broad range of theatrical training I received at Texas Tech, I comfortably fit into this performance genre.”
Along with his work on “Green Screen Adventures,” Gryder has become an active member in the cabaret circuit of Chicago. He has performed a monthly oneman show, “SIMPLY SCOTTY,” for four years, along with continually joining other concert and theatrical performances around the city.
Gryder graduated from Texas Tech in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in theater. Housed in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the Department of Theatre & Dance trains and educates students through various specialized programs, and prepares students for careers in both practice and pedagogy.
Gryder said families can visit www.greenscreenadventures.tv to learn how to write and submit their own original stories to the television show.
GETTING TO KNOW SCOTT GRYDER
What is your favorite spot on campus?
Maedgen Theatre. There’s a certain “anything can happen here” energy there. When working in a design practicum class, painting a flat or a set piece in the wings; when rehearsing a dramatic scene in the house, running lines with another actor; and onstage, during rehearsal or belting out a Broadway tune during a performance; that’s where I felt most present and alive.
What is your favorite Texas Tech Tradition?
The Masked Rider. I’ll always remember being moved to tears by the palpable freedom and drive that the rider and horse embodied when they took to the field. It was inspiring.
What do you love most about being a Red Raider?
I love the Red Raider family. There’s a network of theater professional across the country whom you can reach out to for information and support. Also, there’s a great comfort in knowing fellow Red Raiders are making their own way in the arts, and it’s a special joy to have them root for you as you follow your dreams as well.
What is your favorite Texas Tech memorabilia?
I would say it’s my class ring because every time I look at it, I remember the strength in my training, but my memory is also sparked with a smile when I look at the collection of show shirts I still have hanging in my closet, marking the incredible productions I was so fortunate to be involved with while at Texas Tech.
What advice would you give to a current Texas Tech student?
Do it all. Audition. Train in multiple areas. Take voice lessons. Take dance. Stagemanage. Direct. Choreograph. Work behind the scenes. Build. Design. You may be afraid or hesitant to try some of these production aspects, and I was too, but I’m so glad that I have the experience in as many of these areas as possible. It’s not that I’m currently doing all of these things, but now I know and respect what it takes to make them happen. With that knowledge, I feel I can build stronger bonds with those I work with, and I feel more confident in my way around any performance space.
Chicago Cabaret Professionals Gala “Singing Our Own Song” A Grand Night for Singing, Listening, and Enjoying! (Park West Theatre)
by Russell Goeltenbodt (Showbiz Chicago - October 23, 2013)
...The show continued with the fabulous effervescent and lively Scott Gryder accompanied by music director, Nick Sula, singing Funny Girl’s “The Greatest Star.” Scott sang with all of the enthusiasm and animation that only Scotty can do. Scott did not only provide energy to the song but built the momentum for the 1act...
"What a Character!" (Auditorium Theatre Katten/Landau Studio)
by Daniel Johnson (Songs for the Season: Cabaret Programs for Hire - July 30, 2013)
July has been a busy month for Daniel. After a year residing in the Oak Park, IL arts district I moved to a larger apartment nearer downtown Oak Park. With this move I hope to put down some roots in Chicagoland while retaining my family home in SW Michigan as a “get-away.” It’s such a privilege to cultivate a town and country lifestyle!
Aside from getting resettled, I continue to enjoy the riches of what cabaret in Chicago has to offer. On July 20 I attended a special concert at the Katten-Landau Studio of the Auditorium Theatre. They presented “Life is a Cabaret” with Scott Gryder and Nick Sula (Phil Martin, on drums). I have been following Mr. Sula (as music director) and his partner Mr. Gryder ever since joining Chicago Cabaret Professionals. They were among the first performers I noted for special attention and I have seen them perform at several venues.
So when Scott announced the revival of last year’s tribute to the words and music of Kander and Ebb I knew that this event would be a must see! It proved to be (so far) a high-point of my summer theatre-going. Billed as a 50th year celebration of the start of the Kander and Ebb collaboration, it was everything that a tribute show should be. That is, firstly, a balanced and enlightening journey through the unique collaboration (which only ended with the death of lyricist Fred Ebb in 2004) and secondly and probably more importantly, an appealing and felicitous match between material and performer.
There is already a musical revue “And the World Goes Round” based on the same material which requires a small ensemble to present. It is remarkable that Mr. Gryder and his collaborators have created a program that achieves a similar entertainment value full of range and variety for solo performance. Anyone who loves the works of Kander and Ebb will find this program very satisfying. Speaking for myself I was most gratified to hear “Colored Lights” which sent me over the moon and the selections from Kiss of the Spider Woman which appealed to my hunger for the quirky and dramatic. Others have made “Ring Them Bells” something of a required selection and Mr. Gryder did not disappoint with his rousing rendition.
But it is what the performer brings to this material that is golden here. Scott Gryder is one of those absolutely unique and inimitable performers that sends his audiences away murmuring “what a character!” How to describe him? He proves that good things sometimes come in small packages. He has a boy-like, you might say diminutive, figure but he is an absolute power-house as a performer. With a resonant tenor and superb musicianship, he starts off on a high (that’s where he seems to reside) and just goes higher and higher. But that’s not all. The “boy” sure can act! The performance ranges from pure show-biz pizzazz to the most searching and tender emotional territory.
It seems to me that Mr. Gryder is one of those artists who dances nimbly from character acting to singing. I’m tempted to call him a character singer. It may have been a “no brainer” for him to assay Cabaret since he is unquestionably able to “cover” the Joel Gray part at a high level of accomplishment. But who would have thought that he also brings the warmth and whimsy of Minnelli and the awesome energy of Rivera to the work.
This is one of the things that cabaret as an art form does best, melding the unique talents of performer and material. I think this act will be a signature for Gryder and Co. as long as they wish to pursue it and audiences will be richer for the experience. I know I am.
“Say Yes” to Scott Gryder and His Cabaret (Auditorium Theatre Katten/Landau Studio)
by Darcy Darcy Rose Coussens (Chicago Theatre Review - July 20, 2013)
LIFE IS A CABARET! The Music and Words of Kander & Ebb
Last Saturday night the full audience in attendance of Roosevelt University’s cabaret series was bid “Wilkommen” and treated to the charismatic exuberance that is Scott Gryder and his one-man cabaret, “LIFE IS A CABARET! The Music and Words of Kander & Ebb” accompanied by Nick Sula on piano and Phil Martin on drums. The show is a 50thanniversary tribute to the songwriters known for Broadway hits like Chicago, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, and many more.
Gryder has a knockout act put together, balancing high energy numbers like “Ring Them Bells,” funny bits (the audience went nuts for “Sara Lee,”) and ballads such as the beautifully performed “Sometimes A Day Goes By.” He’s a superb tenor, incorporating many songs actually written for female roles, and he is full of personality with a ridiculous level of stamina—as the night progressed he seemed to only acquire more energy, wrapping up with a fantastic Chicago finale.
Yet this kind of evening requires more than a great voice and a set list of favorites to be a success. Dressed in tails, Gryder walked us through the history of the show’s repertoire, providing a brief narrative before each piece and even a Liza Minnelli impression. These introductions keep us engaged throughout the concert, and some numbers like “Bobo’s” are given a fresh perspective with background stories in mind. The songs of Kander and Ebb offer more than entertainment; they lend themselves to an interesting journey through the evening with Gryder as our guide.
Although this particular performance was a one-time affair, if you’re looking for a cabaret, look no further than the expressive, funny Scott Gryder. He’s got a powerhouse voice, many schticks and sentimental moments, and an enjoyable, engaging evening perfected.
“Life is a Cabaret –The Words and Music of Kander and Ebb” Proves Scott Gryder Is A True Showman (Auditorium Theatre Katten/Landau Studio)
by Russell Goeltenbodt (Showbiz Chicago - July 20, 2013)
A few months ago, when I reviewed a few other cabaret shows, I noted that performing in a cabaret show is very different from performing in a concert. There are some very basic, yet necessary requirements for cabaret. The artist must create a story, and tell that story through the music they are singing. The story should be natural and portrayed as a natural conversation with the audience to bring the audience into the life of the story. This is particularly true if a cabaret artist includes musical theater into his/her repertoire. The singer should be able to recreate those theatrical moments on stage. I am very pleased to say that Scott Gryder was successful at meeting all of these requirements during his tribute to famed composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, with his show; “Life is a Cabaret – The Music and Words of Kander and Ebb”.
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of legendary songwriting duo, Scott Gryder, pianist Nick Sula and drummer Phil Martin, delighted the full house audience with an outstanding musical tribute to one of the most talented musical teams in history. The Roosevelt University Katten/Landau Studio provided yet another fabulous setting for their summer cabaret series.
Scott brought the audience through a musical journey singing and speaking of Kander and Ebb’s history and 50 year collaboration. Captivating the audience with Kander and Ebb’s most notable tunes including songs from “Flora the Red Menace”, “Woman of the Year”,“Chicago”, “70 Girls 70”,“Kiss of the Spider Woman”, “New York New York”, and the one and only “Cabaret.” Scott Gryder not only sang with perfection, but brought the audience to that place where they experienced each show with his warm charm, extreme wit, and theatrical ability. Scott’s high energy made his performance interesting, fun, and enjoyable.
Of course, most of the Kander and Ebb songs are my favorites, and Scott hit the mark with all of them. I would be remiss if I did not mention Scott Gryder’s signature tune and one of his encores, “Mister Cellophane” (Chicago 1975). Scott delves into the character with this song with his body language and facial expressions.
In “Life is a Cabaret – The Music and Words of Kander and Ebb” Scotty brings all of his musical and theatrical talent together, backed by his musical director, Nick Sula. Extremely talented Nick also plays and is Musical Director for many other Chicago Cabaret shows and artists by night.
Scott Gryder and Nick Sula put together one fabulous evening of great entertainment. Scott and Nick are joined on stage by drummer, Phil Martin, who kept the beat to Scott’s performance. This show was definitely a must see and a winner! Even though, “Life is a Cabaret – The Music and Words of Kander and Ebb” is a single performance, I am certain you will see more from Scott Gryder in the future; both in Chicago and possibly nationally. Scott provides a fresh new face to the cabaret and theater community. Don’t miss him.
LIFE IS A CABARET! The Music and Words of Kander and Ebb (Davenport's, Chicago, IL)
by Carla Gordon (Cabaret Scenes Magazine - October 19, 2012)
Though Scott Gryder is a wiry little guy, when it comes to delivering cabaret, the Gryder key word is BIG! He offers a strong, supported tenor voice having noteworthy range. His physical energy seems boundless as he moves constantly around Davenport's cozy stage. Gryder often visits that thin line between high energy and the frenetic. His big delivery choices are especially well suited to Kander and Ebb's boffo numbers, like "But the World Goes 'Round" and "Colored Lights." It is in "Mister Cellophone" where Gryder provides his best interpretative skills. He finds Mister Cellophane's heart-bruised, a little confused, yet understanding why he is worthy of respect. By having us wait for that one mega-money note, Gryder takes us on a journey not about vocal gifts, but about the vulnerable heart of a man. And that is why we come to the cabaret.
Freddie and Scotty make beautiful music (Wilmette Theatre, Wilmette, IL)
by Myrna Petlicki (Evanston Reporter - November 15, 2012)
The paparazzi won’t leave Freddie alone.
Even while the diminutive featured performer in the “Simply Scotty” show was being interviewed at a local coffeehouse, a photographer, passing herself off as a coffeehouse patron, snapped Freddie’s photo with her phone.
It’s apparent she knew that the lively puppet is the real star of the show coming to the Wilmette Theatre on Monday, Nov. 19.
We had to humor Scott Gryder, though, so we interviewed him, too.
Actually Gryder will be doing most of the singing at the show, just as he does during his monthly “Simply Scotty” shows at 3160 Piano Bar and Cabaret in Chicago, and on his wonderful CD, “Pure Imagination.”
Freddie is a Chicago native — hand stitched by Gryder while he manned the box office at Victory Gardens Theater several years ago. Gryder hails from Texas.
A Texas Tech theater graduate, Gryder was lured to Chicago by James Odom, a Texas Tech alumni who sings in the Lyric Opera chorus. “He came back to Texas Tech my senior year to do a one-man show, an evening of cabaret — which I’d never heard of,” Gryder related.
Gryder was asked to sing a duet with Odom after which the singer suggested Gryder spend his spring break with him in Chicago. “I took a train from Dallas,” Gryder said. “The minute I stepped off the train, I looked up and I thought, ‘This is the place for me.’”
Seven years ago, a week after graduation, Gryder packed his possessions in a rental truck and drove to Chicago, planning a musical theater career. “The non-Equity scene is fabulous here but you can’t make a living doing that,” he said. “And I realized that my voice is set very high.” That limited the number of roles for which Gryder was appropriate.
He went Equity, doing such shows as “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower. But most of the musical theater opportunities were in the suburbs, and Gryder doesn’t drive so he decided to make an album.
In order to decide what material to include, Gryder put together a show which he performed in October 2010 at 3160 Piano Bar and Cabaret, accompanied by pianist Nick Sula. The “Simply Scotty” show was so well received that the pair has been invited back every month since.
Gryder had previously performed at that venue when he worked as a house manager/bartender at Victory Gardens Theater. He and two coworkers put together a show, calling themselves the Desperate House Managers.
Gryder’s current side jobs include helping to produce the Wilmette Theatre’s Monday Night Music Series, the third Monday of each month. He also performs in an Emmy-winning children’s television show, “Green Screen Adventures” on WCIU, Weigel Broadcasting.
Gryder described his monthly “Simply Scotty” performances as “a one-man variety show. We do songs that are standards but we also do some character stuff, old Tom Lehrer stuff and a lot of Broadway.” He also performs songs made famous by Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli, pop numbers and selections by Kander and Ebb.
The Wilmette Theatre show will feature, “The greatest hits of ‘Simply Scotty,’” Gryder said. “I’m promising at least one confetti cannon.”
And, of course, Freddie will sing a number or two. The pro puppet currently shares his “dressing room” case with seven other puppets although only four others have appeared onstage so far. There’s a chance that one of Freddie’s cohorts will join him for a duet.
Gryder is planning to make the show interactive, talking to the audience and taking requests.
Freddie has a different take on Gryder’s contribution to “Simply Scotty.” “He’s just filler until I show up,” the puppet said.
For Scott Gryder, life is a cabaret (3160 Piano & Cabaret, Chicago, IL)
by Alex Lubischer (Windy City Times - February 22, 2012)
Recently, in a cozy rehearsal room atop the Sherwood Conservatory of Music, Chicago cabaret crooner Scott Gryder was in mid-argument with his performance partner, Freddie. Gryder alleged, correctly, that their monthly cabaret revue is titled "Simply Scotty," while his scene-stealing cohort insisted on "Fun with Freddie." After some well-tempered reasoning on Gryder's part, Freddie finally conceded. The affable Gryder rolled his eyes.
Freddie, sporting purple hair and wide saucer eyes, is a puppet. He's also the latest addition to Gryder's self-titled show, joining in for a tune or two every set. "I've been told that I'm the only cabaret puppeteer in Chicago," Gryder said, grinning. "People are upset when he [ Freddie ] doesn't perform."
With a joie de vivre comparable to Glee's Kurt Hummel, Gryder was instantly disarming. Comfortably seated inches from a baby grand, his high tenor voice and winning smile gave an affect of genuine wholesomeness that is almost flabbergasting. However, any initial skepticism quickly evaporated upon discovery of one fact: this entertainer is one of a kind.
A former musical theater performer, Gryder made the switch to cabaret in 2008. He was working as a house manager at Victory Gardens theater when a coworker approached him with the idea of banding together to put on a show. While his Actors' Equity status barred him from any non-union musical performances, cabaret was fair game. The gang dubbed themselves "The Desperate House Managers" and whipped together a cabaret revue. "And I was like, 'Wow! That was so easy,'" said Gryder. "And it felt really good."
When asked why cabaret was a better fit, Gryder said, "I think in musical theater, there's a package that you have to open up. It's like playing a board game and these are the rules and the parts you play. But cabaret is just entertainment. So it can be anything."
Being bitten by the cabaret bug, Gryder went solo for his next project, "Not At My Audition: My Half-Latin Life On Stage So Far." He first conceived the one-man show in a diner with musical director and partner, Nick Sula. Gryder pitched the show as being "based on the bigger auditions I've had and it'll tell my life story through those auditions." Recalling how he sat down, wrote the script and put it together with Sula, Gryder pauses and smiles, "Of course the cabaret scene loves Nick."
Sula continues to accompany Gryder on piano for his current show, "Simply Scotty," although their two busy schedules leave little time for rehearsal. Their preparation begins with Gryder transposing sheet music into an appropriate key, followed by Sula's expert revisions. "And then, if we're lucky, we get to run that song before we get to 'Simply Scotty' but most of the time it's just off the cuff," Gryder said. The chemistry that allows them to excel with so little prep time astounds even Gryder. "It's unbelievable!" he told Windy City Times. "It was just fate."
Gryder discovered his next major cabaret companion, Freddie, years later, after three friends separately gave him puppet memorabilia for his birthday. Coincidence? Gryder said with a shrug, "People say that I'm like a living Muppet sometimes."
When asked how Freddie acquired his signature showbiz-loving personality, Gryder mused, "It's like when someone goes to a pet store to pick up cat food and they have no intention of buying another cat, but there's someone who has cats for sale so they pick one up and someone says what's it's name and you say 'Sally!' … So I had Freddie. There's no reason why he's Freddie. He's just Freddie."
The same can be said of Scott Gryder, an entertainment personality who'll be putting a fresh spin on cabaret for years to come. On his debut album, Pure Imagination, his zany, nightclub warbling brings a blend of humor and lightness to an art form oft equated with smoky stages and maudlin ballads. "I think cabaret has a bad rap," he said, proceeding to comically demonstrate an overwrought French caricature. "There's sort of a dark aura for cabaret, is what I think. Cabaret is so much more. It's communication and sharing and joy. It can be anything! That's the beauty and the curse of cabaret."
Gryder performs "Simply Scotty" the first Sunday of every month at 3160 Piano & Cabaret, 3160 N. Clark St., at 7 p.m. See www.thescottgryder.com for more information.
His album, Pure Imagination, is available on Gryder's website or iTunes.
Life is The Scott Gryder's Cabaret, Old Chum… (3160 Piano & Cabaret, Chicago, IL)
by Florence Yoo (The Secret Virtual Life of Florence Yoo - March 5, 2012)
I am not big into cabaret or show tunes, but the best of anything is always something to see. A prime example of this would be seeing Scott Gryder's hilarious act, including the rock steady accompaniment of Nick Sula on piano and occasional vocals. Gryder spins his web of comedy, quirky song choices and a finely tuned tenor voice that evokes Mandy Patinkin at his best. The Scott Gryder ( http://www.thescottgryder.com/ ) is able to switch gears from over the top schtick, ad libs that any improv pro would be proud of, kitschy show tunes to poignant love songs smoother than a Maserati... Seeing him and Nick perform at 3160 N. Clark in Chicago last night was like seeing a show on Broadway. Oh, what a night!
NOT AT MY AUDITION: My Half-Latin Life Onstage So Far (3160 Piano & Cabaret, Chicago, IL)
by Carla Gordon (Cabaret Scenes Magazine - July 26, 2009)
On the young side of twenty-something, Scott Gryder is better grounded in cabaret than many boasting double his lifespan. His debut solo cabaret, Not at My Audition, tells with wit and heart Gryder’s struggles to become a performer. Shows about singers’ quests often resonate self-indulgent and may be avoided like swine flu. However, Gryder’s journey does not convey that: we relate to the knot in the stomach as we wistfully leave home to risk dreams. We understand the goal-ascending experience of two steps forward and one step back. Team Gryder chose well in mixing standards and new songwriters and minimizing reprises. The hour-long show seemed shorter. Gryder brings an excellent, supple tenor yet gets that cabaret is foremost about words and emotions. He’s known as a belter but in the intimate performance deck within Club 3160, he instinctively knew to step on the pedal less. The story of his professional seduction of A+ musical director Nick Sula with “On a Slow Boat to China” is especially charming. Gryder’s version of his Latina mother’s pep talk in an over-accented “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” rings as true as it does bigtime funny. Keep an eye on this one; he’s gonna be Gryding high.
from SIMPLY SCOTTY (3160 Piano & Cabaret, Chicago, IL)
"I don't know how I'd make it month to month without listening to Scott sing and hearing Nick play."
Green Screen Adventures
"When you do the Barbra Streisand song "I'm the Greatest Star," you're so much funnier than she is."
"Thank You soooo much for singing my 2 favorite songs ["Mister Cellophane" and "I'm the Greatest Star"]. They were better than Joel Gray and Babs."
"What a showman! What a showman!"
-David Blair (Canadian Pop artist)
"I do think you’re the best vocalist ever."
Green Screen Adventures
from LIFE IS A CABARET! The Music and Words of Kander & Ebb
(Auditorium Theatre Katten/Landau Studio - July 20, 2013)
"You were perfect!"
"Scott Gryder made his mark tonight at the Katten/Landau Studio. His Kander & Ebb show was one of the best cabaret performances I've ever seen. A gorgeous voice, brilliant interpretations and terrific choreography. Scotty owned that stage and the audience. Those who didn't see this show missed a fabulous experience. The friends who came with us are now devoted fans."