by Tess Harkin
Drew Gasparini is an award-winning, up-and-coming NYC composer who’s been referred to as “the next big thing.”
I first learned about Drew when his adaptation of Henry James’ classic horror novella Turn of the Screw drew a lot of chatter from theatre blogs and on social media. I quickly became enamored with the young composer and began researching his career. I learned that he has toured with Jason Mraz, Third Eye Blind and the Plain White T’s as an opening act singer-songwriter. But in more recent years, the California-born artist has turned his focus onto musical theatre. He’s won awards for his work at NYMF and has performed original work at world-renowned stages and festivals.
I reached out to Drew and asked if he was interested in being featured as the first installment of my blog series, “a day in the life.” He enthusiastically agreed and so last week I tagged along to see what an average day was like for Drew Gasparini. His demeanor is one-third teenage boy, one-third hardworking professional and one-third creative genius. He was a good choice to follow because of his versatility his work and projects. Drew started his day off with rehearsals for Turn of the Screw. It tells the story of a governess and her haunting new job. I learned so much from watching Drew and the actors play with this brand new material. Since they are still workshopping, the artists could try different nuances with each line to see how they worked.
After a quick stop by his apartment, Drew and I headed downtown to Erik’s Barber Shop, a small place in Midtown, for a shave with his best friends. “The Morontourage,” as they call themselves, consists of Andrew Kober (Hair), Alex Brightman (Wicked) and F. Michael Haynie (Dogfight). Though Andrew Kober wasn’t able to join, I quickly understood why these friends have such a great time together. Check out these before, during and after shots of the group:
Drew explained that the Morontourage gets together once or twice a month to catch up and talk about new projects that they’ve been working on. This was one of those days, when the gang decided to try a new activity as a group. It was the first time Alex or F had ever had shave before, and when asked to describe the experience, phrases tossed around included “ridiculous” and “YOLO.”
In anticipation of Drew’s NYMF performance later that night, we parted ways with the Morontourage and headed to VYNL for dinner, where the music is loud and the food is great!
And what is there to do after you’ve already stuffed yourself silly? Eat more of course! Drew suggested going to Schmackary’s, a cookie place that’s a favorite of the casts of Dogfight and Newsies. It definitely lived up to the hype! This was Drew’s first time going and my second, so I made sure to recommend my personal favorite, the Maple Bacon Cookie. Over dessert we discussed a range of topics, including some big news in Drew’s future. I won’t spill, but keep an eye out! (You can follow Drew on Twitter, HERE.)
On our walk to our next destination, I asked Drew what theatre he would want his Broadway debut to be in. He said he would want his show Crazy, Just Like Me (which won “Best of Fest” at NYMF in 2011) to be in the Booth Theatre. Drew had seen Next to Normal at the Booth and liked the smaller, more-personal house. So when we passed by, I had to take a picture! As big as a goofball as he is, you can tell that Drew is serious about chasing his dreams to make it big one day.
By this point it was getting late, so we headed over to the Theatre at St. Clements for the NYMF Cutting Edge Composers concert which included a song written by Drew specifically for the concert. As he took the stage, hetold a story on stage of how he sent out a mass text to his family asking about what he should write. Despite the—er, inspiring idea of “plums,” provided by his mother, it was his father’s suggestion that won. A song about miners, called “The Whistler” was performed by Matt Bailey, AJ Shively, and Joe Cassidy. The song drew on Celtic influences and was very well-received by the audience.
After the concert, Drew was kind of enough to introduce me to a few of his friends, including Emma Hunton, Jennifer Damiano and Jennifer Ashley Tepper! It was incredible to be around these Broadway performers at this special event. It definitely gave me an idea of what it would be like to be a composer like Drew—attending concerts with other aspiring artists and being part of the buzz surrounding Broadway’s next generation!
For more information on Drew Gasparini and his projects, visit: www.drewgasparinimusic.com