If Drew Gasparini isn’t a name you’ve heard yet, it’s one that you’re sure to hear a lot more of. Gasparini has already collaborated with the likes of Alex Brightman on the musical Make Me Bad and Louis Sacco on Crazy, Just Like Me. Gasparini’s 2013 album I Could Use a Drink was critically acclaimed and led to an all-star performance at New York’s legendary 54 Below, and now it makes its UK premiere on stream.theatre.
It may have taken a few years to get to this side of the Atlantic, but this digital production from Liam Gartland and Alex Conder reimagines the music for a cast of West End performers who will be no strangers to this fresh kind of musical theatre writing.
The album itself is a diverse mix of musical theatre stylings, which comes together in song-cycle format to explore the many themes of growing up. Teenage pregnancy, coming out, depression and loss all feature heavily in a collection of songs that still manage to remain hopeful, and often, uplifting.
You get this inspiring sense immediately with the opening number, ‘Michigan’ performed by Tom Francis and Olivia Lallo, and even in the darker numbers there still holds a sense of hope, no more so than in ‘No Turning Back Now’ beautifully sung by Ahmed Hamad.
As well as being an eclectic mix of styles, jumping from Billy Nevers’ soulful rendition of ‘Good Stuff’ to Caroline Kay’s vibrant portrayal of ‘Circus’, the songs themselves are astonishingly complex. Take ‘Valley High’ for example, sung here by Ahmed Hamad, Tom Francis and Luke Bayer, on the face of it a jaunty little Country and Western style number, until you listen to the lyrics and discover a much more sinister meaning.
There’s a good mix of solos and duets, Olivia Lallo and Maiya Quansah-Breed come together for an impressive ‘I Just Can’t Stop’, while Billy Nevers and Caroline Kay’s ‘Overboard’ is the perfect finale to the exhilarating show.
The cosy library-esque setting sees the performers and band, under the musical direction of Flynn Sturgeon, brought together to create an intimate feel. It’s as if the incredible talents of the singers and band are ready to just burst out of the screen at you, or perhaps you will be wishing you could join them amongst the piled high books and comfortable leather chairs.
Liam Gartland and Alex Conder bring this magical album of musical theatre songs to life on the virtual stage, and how lucky we are to finally get the chance to witness the work of Drew Gasparini first hand. If Gasparini’s name is one to remember so too might be the names behind Gartland Productions who have excelled themselves with I Could Use a Drink.
I Could Use a Drink streams on stream.theatre 7th – 16th May 2021. Tickets are on sale here.