I Could Use A Drink ★★★ Garrick Theatre | August 2, 2021


I Could Use A Drink left us thirsting for more – more of Drew Gasparini's very accessible songs, but also more context for what is simply a live performance of a concept album created in 2013. Like so many gifted composers through the centuries, Gasparini seems to struggle finding a suitable plot to achieve lasting success in the commercial theatre. Performed by nine tremendously talented young singers under Flynn Sturgeon's excellent musical direction, we get a stream of songs of love and loss with plenty of angst and occasional flashes of dark humour. What we don't get is any narrative. This is a shame as these numbers provoke real interest in the listener. However, like so many songs from musical theatre when played out of context much of the impact is lost. Gasparini doesn't flinch from difficult subjects with a chilling trio about high school bullying and another concerning teenage pregnancy's effect on both young parents. The songs certainly hit their mark. Musically, this is sophisticated writing with an eclectic blend of pop and contemporary theatre music; throughout the harmonies are much more interesting than those in more commercially successful shows such as those from the Disney stable. Possibly subconsciously, Jason Robert Brown's influence is apparent but Gasparini just manages to avoid appearing derivative. Maybe act one almost becomes “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” and maybe there are too many torch songs in act two, but the ecstatic reception this song cycle receives is well deserved. Cheers!

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Danny Kaan.

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