Freddie and Scotty make beautiful music
Scotty Gryder and Freddie
7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19
Wilmette Theatre, 1122 Central Ave., Wilmette.
$18 in advance, $20 at the door; use the code word “Freddie” when you call and tickets are $10
(847) 251-7424; www.wilmettetheatre.com
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.