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BWW Interview: DREW GASPARINI at Webster Hall on 9/28

"DREW GASPARINI LIVE" will play The Marlin Room at WEBSTER HALL on Monday, September 28th. Drew Gasparini's gift lies in crafting lyrics that tell a story and make you feel something, and setting them to irresistible grooves that make you want to get up and dance.

Gasparini is known in New York City as an award-winning musical theatre composer, and one of a handful of young artists forging a new sound for the stage in the cross-section between theatre and pop. But he began his career as a touring singer/songwriter, playing up and down the west coast with acts such as Jason Mraz, Third Eye Blind, and the Plain White T's. On September 28th at Webster Hall, Gasparini will put aside his theatre alter ego to mark the re-introduction and east coast debut of Drew Gasparini the solo artist: a gifted songwriter, an exciting performer, and a man who loves to throw a great party.

Gasparini has released three albums: "Small Thoughts (EP)", 2005; "Overboard (EP)", 2008; and "Drew Gasparini Band", a full-length album released independently in 2012. His fourth album, released by Broadway Records in 2013, showcased his signature hybrid of pop and musical theatre. Titled "I Could Use A Drink: The Songs of Drew Gasparini", it features vocals from some of Broadway's hottest young stars and spent 5 weeks on the top 100 iTunes charts. Drew is signed with Razor & Tie/Sh-K-Boom Publishing and is currently working on his fifth album, which will feature his latest single, "Kiss Me"

Over the past decade Gasparini has grown tremendously as an artist, writing songs with increased maturity, poignancy, and playfulness, and hooks that just keep getting better and better. This show is meant to commemorate and celebrate a new stage in that evolution.

Gasparini will be joined on stage by Keith White (Jersey Boys) and Michelle Nikoomanesh, plus special guest appearances by Drew's sisters Kasie and Chloe Gasparini, and The (M)orons-Broadway's Alex Brightman (School of Rock), F. Michael Haynie (Wicked), and Andrew Kober (Les Miserables).

Broadwayworld.com had the opportunity to interview Drew Gasparini in advance of his New York City appearance.

When was your earliest interest in music?

Everyone in my family is very musical. My mother was a music teacher so when my brother and I were born she'd bring us to work with her every now and then, and we'd be totally entranced by the sounds and songs that would come out of those classes. I was equally entranced by the rhythm and rhyming that went along with Dr. Seuss and nursery rhymes. Putting rhymes into couplets and then setting them to a melody was simply amazing to me. And my parents raised us on incredible music. The Beatles, James Taylor, Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Paul Simon, were all played around the house. Plus all things Motown. These classics got me interested in writing at a very young age.

Who have been some important mentors in your career?

I've been very lucky and in addition to my parents I've have many mentors throughout the years. My high school music teacher Emily Gates is a superhero of mine. I used to do community theatre in the Bay Area alongside my good buddy, Broadway's Matt Doyle, and I received great guidance from the women who ran that theatre company, Marilyn Izdebski and Judy Wiesen. Austin Willacy, who directed a singing group I was in as a teen, was another really important mentor to me. And Louis Sacco, who I perform with now under the banner "Louis & Drew". When I was struggling in NYC and getting ready to call it quits, he made me believe I should stick around and keep trying even though I didn't know a single person here. If I hadn't listened to his advice, I would have been miserable. He's an amazing friend and collaborator.

Tell me about some of the performers and performances that have inspired you.

I feel like I accidentally surround myself with jaw-dropping and completely inspiring performers. Both my sisters, Kasie and Chloe, are so good at what they do and so different from one another, which makes it very easy to appreciate what each brings to the stage or the song. I'm always in amazement of them. When it comes to comedy and/or serious acting, I've never met better actors or better-timed comedians than the guys from my crew, The (M)orons: School of Rock's Alex Brightman, Wicked's F. Michael Haynie, and Les Miserables' Andrew Kober. Anything performed by Mykal Kilgore leaves me speechless, and anything written by Ryan Scott Oliver leaves me thinking. All those names I mentioned inspire me every day.

What are some of your personal favorite tunes?

So many! My top five is always evolving, but here is a rock solid list of five songs that I am really digging at the moment. 1) QUICKIE by Ryan Montbleau (thanks for the recommendation Andrew Kober); 2) PIANO by Ariana Grande (every time I hear this song it immediately puts me in the best mood); 3) TAKE ME TO THE PILOT by Elton John (off his first record, this is an old tune but still so good and I love coming back to it from time to time); 4) TOKYO SUNRISE by LP (everyone should listen to this song, it's pretty remarkable. Thanks to Emma Hunton for the recommendation); and 5) BABA O'RILEY by The Who (One of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands, who happen to be behind one of my favorite Broadway musicals of all time! This is the best song to walk around NYC to. It makes you feel like you're about to win something.)

Tell me about the importance of being a musician and an educator in your career.

Nothing excites me more than being an educator. The more success I have, the more writing and performing I'm doing, the one thing I never let fall by the wayside is teaching, whether privately or in a classroom. Theatre and music are art forms that need to keep growing and evolving. I come from a long line of both musicians and teachers, and the teachers that I learned from the best are those who saw that I had my own way of absorbing the information. They made it possible for me to learn the foundation, to absorb their guidance, and then to put my own stamp on it. Even in the arts, education still seems designed to get people to all think alike. I teach because I think it's incredibly important to find an individual's strengths and to push those strengths to the forefront of that person's skill set. By nurturing future artists we ensure that the thing we love and are passionate about will still have the same excitement behind it from the generation that follows! I never liked the phrase "those who can't do, teach." I am a big believer that if you're doing, then you should teach others how to do it too.

What are some of your future plans?

I'm just doing all that I can not to slow down musically or creatively.

The work I do literally keeps me up at night. It may not be the healthiest way to live, but I'm not complaining because I love it. Rest is important, but I am more invested in completing the songs and stories that are going off like fireworks in my head.

Even when no one else is awake, there's nothing like the excitement of knowing that you will get to share this story with someone. I pinch myself every day that I've been able to make my art my living. For the future, I just want to keep that momentum going at full speed.

For more information on Drew Gasparini, visit, www.thedrewgasparini.com and www.zackzadek.com

"DREW GASPARINI LIVE" will play The Marlin Room at WEBSTER HALL, 125 East 11th Street in New York City on September 28th, 2015 (6pm doors, 7:30pm show). Tickets cost $22.50 and are available for purchase at www.websterhall.com.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Drew Gasparini


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