PLAYBILL PICKS: The Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know, Part One

By Michael Gioia
09 Oct 2012

Drew Gasparini

"My peers inspire [me]," said singer-songwriter Drew Gasparini, an alum of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre workshop and recipient of the 2006 John Lennon Songwriters Award. "I really love Adam Gwon, Ryan Scott Oliver and anyone who's doing what we are all trying to do — push the art form forward." The art form that Gasparini refers to lives somewhere in between the world of musical theatre and pop/rock — furthering a story with contemporary song. He added that as a songwriter he "strives for progression in the writing" — characters who grow, an arc that goes from A to Z. A perfect example is "Dear Lucy/Dear Tom," two letters performed in song by Spring Awakening's Emma Hunton and Wicked's F. Michael Haynie, from his musical Circles — four separate stories about four separate couples, each with an obstacle to overcome — which he conceived at the age of 19 and is currently in the midst of rewriting.

His other works include Above My Pay Grade, a corporate musical commissioned by Pfizer and Holt Learning; The Up Down ("Disaster," a song from the musical performed here by Hair's Mykal Kilgore, is one of Gasparini's favorites); and Crazy, Just Like Me, which received the 2011 Best of Fest at NYMF Award and will play New Jersey' American Theater Group in early 2013 before a planned Off-Broadway engagement. In development are Turn of the Screw, a twist on the classic Henry James thriller novel of the same name that features a book by Michael Kimmel; and a "rock, serial killer, love story" entitled Make Me Bad, in which he is working with book writer Alex Brightman (Wicked). Here, Dogfight's Lindsay Mendez sings a dark power ballad entitled "Circus" from Make Me Bad. Gasparini is also working on an album, produced by Daniel Benge of The Benge Group, that will feature a collection of his songs.

"Music theatre, to me, has always been appealing because of the evolution of it," he says. "Though some like to complain about how 'new theatre' isn't theatre anymore, I like to say, 'Yes, it is!' Musical theatre is about story, character-driven plots and music. As long as those are incorporated, I think the sky is the limit."

Listen to the title song from Crazy, Just Like Me, another one of Gasparini's favorite songs:

"Crazy, Just Like Me"




Listen to a demo from the serial killer musical Make Me Bad entitled "I Just Can't Stop": 

"I Just Can't Stop"