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The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage

GottaGetAGimmick420
#50The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 12/14/23 at 1:15pm

scripps said: "Whatever happens, keep an eye on Adrian Blake Enscoe. Very engaging performer I hope we all get to see on stage for years to come."

I caught him at a closed industry reading this week and he was absolutely a stand out, can confirm

schubox
#51The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 12/14/23 at 4:22pm

For those of you who have seen it, can you describe the set transition in spoilers? I saw it in Berkeley and am curious what they are doing with it in DC

charlie525600
#52The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 12/16/23 at 9:08pm

DC set transition in detail below.

 
Click Here To Toggle Spoiler Content

At the end of "Murder in the City", choreography indicates the ship beginning to rock violently as actors slide and roll across the stage. Then "water" (blue light with accompanying sound design) crashes across the deck and there's an ensemble reprise of "Lord Lay Your Hand on My Shoulder" alongside an awesome slow motion choreography of crew falling / struggling against the turbulent waters.

Movements resume normal speed, lights flash on a dim stage and most cast leaves the set quickly (most take the stairs down/go out the back) except for Big Brother and Little Brother who have additional sequence struggling to stay aboard. Then, as the transition begins, they slip off the front of the set (quickly and in dim light - not meant to be noticed), music mounts, and the deck begins to swing upwards. Two rigging lines snap, and the entire deck hinges up at ~70 degrees from the floor. Simultaneous, the lifeboat prop rise from below the stage and the surviving four climb in. This all happens in basically the dark and most audience members will be too focused on the ship deck rising up to notice.

The lights come up on the lifeboat and it begins to rotate as the Mate narrates that 6 days have passed.

Full disclosure: I saw the show a second time specifically to figure out exactly how they staged this scene.

brodynky
#53The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 12/21/23 at 1:40pm

New Swept Away promo video

I was able to travel to DC to see Swept Away last week, and I have to say I found it to be one special show! I was not familiar with The Avett Brothers music before this show was announced, but it is beautifully used in service to the story. Most of their songs are inherently emotional and introspective, so it did not feel like a jukebox show at all to me. 
Yes, the show’s story is slight, archetypal and not exactly original, but the complete commitment of the entire creative team and wonderful cast make this a tale that casts a powerful spell. The taut 90 minute/no intermission choice works perfectly for the high stakes tension. The singing and especially the acting are superb, and the set design and lighting provide several jaw-dropping moments. The stage picture and last a cappella refrain “I have no enemies” near the climactic moment will stay with me for a long time.
The show is definitely Broadway worthy, though could be a harder sell with some of the heavy subject matter…though not any more so than Spring Awakening, Hadestown, and the like. 
I’ll preface this by saying I have little idea how a show’s potential Tony chances would impact the transfer decision…but I wonder if they will want to come in this season (theater availability dependent) due to the glut of new shows already set to open this spring. If not, they should wait until spring 2025 and open closer to the awards season. Should they somehow open this season, it would be fun to see John Gallagher Jr. and Jonathan Groff nominated in the same category.  Stark Sands gives a heartbreaking supporting performance…just watching his face throughout as he reacts to events around him is masterful. And I agree with those above that Adrian Blake Enscoe would be the breakout star of this show.
So if you get the chance, head to DC before January 14. 
 

OuttaTowner
#54The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 12/30/23 at 2:31pm

Any guesses if we’ll see this on Broadway this season?  The latest grosses would point to a couple of shows closing in the next month or so, so there could be houses open. Or is it likely that producers will wait until the fall of ‘24?

Ke3
#55The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 12/30/23 at 3:02pm

Just a note due to some things I've seen, it's not a jukebox musical. I think there's only around two Avett Brothers songs in it that were already released. Everything else was written for it.

yyys
#56The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 12/30/23 at 3:51pm

I think you are wrong...

Songs were taken from the albums  Mignonette, Emotionalism, True Sadness, The Second Gleam, The Carpenter....

None of it are originals written for the musical.

Ke3 said: "Just a note due to some things I've seen, it's not a jukebox musical. I think there's only around two Avett Brothers songs in it that were already released. Everything else was written for it."

 

Updated On: 12/30/23 at 03:51 PM

akhoya87
#57The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 12/30/23 at 4:30pm

I don't know the Avett Brothers' catalogue at all (other than what I heard in this show), but I feel like this *has* to be a jukebox musical.  Very few of the songs actually moved the story forward -- a sin that can be forgiven for a jukebox musical, but not for an original (or mostly original) work.

I saw this a week and a half ago.  To provide some polite dissent:  the book needs a considerable amount of work, although I'm not sure what more you can do plot-wise.  There is too much navel-gazing and not enough (story) movement in the first 30-40 minutes of the show.  They're on a boat, so maybe it's too difficult to actively drive the story forward.  The Avett Brothers' music, while lovely, doesn't do many favors in that department either; the songs are thoughtful and introspective, but this show is not written in a way that makes introspection the source of conflict and plot progression.

As others have pointed out, the acting is superb; John Gallagher Jr.'s portrayal of tortured soul covers up a lot of the blemishes of a weak book.  The direction and choreography are also gorgeous; the transition scene is truly well done.  But the conflict that arises in the second half of the show is set up in an incomplete, patchwork way.  The emotional turmoil in JGJ's character presented at the beginning and the end didn't seem like a consistent thread throughout; it just showed up where convenient.  And the ending very much had a "well, and that happened" feel to it.  

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dramamama611
#58The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 12/30/23 at 4:34pm

I'm fairly certain that "Lord, Lay Your Hand on my Shoulder" is the only song written FOR the musical.

 

 


If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.

SisterGeorge
#59The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 12/30/23 at 6:45pm

akhoya87 said: "...I saw this a week and a half ago. To provide some polite dissent: the book needs a considerable amount of work, although I'm not sure what more you can do plot-wise. There is too much navel-gazing and not enough (story) movement in the first 30-40 minutes of the show..."

And the show is only 90 minutes long, so that's a whole lot of time wasted. As for the score, I liked the Americana sound, but a sameness does set in within three or four numbers. 

For me the highlights were the staging, choreography, and the star-making performance by new-to-me Adrian Blake Enscoe. Also, the homoerotic tension between the characters played by Gallagher and Enscoe was a nice, welcome touch.

 


Sister George

whatever2
#60The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 12/30/23 at 7:54pm

> Very few of the songs actually moved the story forward

that's one opinion ...

(and it's one you're 100% entitled to, tbc.)

reasonable people can disagree about the "slightness" of the plot ... personally, i thought there was enough of one, but i would never attempt to persuade anyone it was robust. but, as "jukebox musicals" are understood on Broadway in 2024 (laugh), this is just. not. that. the creators fit the music to a story, not vice-versa. just my $0.02.

regardless, it's a superb night of theatre however one wants to define it. to me, it would be very difficult to argue that the sets, the music, the stellar performances did not give one one's money's worth.


"You, sir, are a moron." (PlayItAgain)

persephone88
#61The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 12/31/23 at 7:46pm

I saw Swept Away with my daughter this week, and enjoyed it very much - she so much that she got tickets to see it a second time this week. Although much of the music comes from previous releases by the Avett Brothers, I would not liken it to your average juke box musical. It's a heavy story, and while it is full of wonderful music, and the singing was first rate, it played more like a drama to me.

Stark Sands was excellent as the older brother - he had an unexpected moment that took my breath away. John Gallagher was very strong, esp. during "Satan Pulls The Strings" - you could have heard a pin drop in the audience and he had us on the edge of our seats. And Adrian Blake Enscoe is excellent as the younger brother, I expect we will see much more from this young man, who reminded both of us of Mike Faist. The set is well done, the lighting and sound excellent, and while we would love to see the book fleshed out a bit more with information about the main four characters up front, it was a really enjoyable evening. I'd go to see it again if it opened on Broadway in 2024 - the cast is terrific!

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RippedMan
#62The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 1/1/24 at 9:05am

Sounds like they wanted the Booth, and Kimberly Akimbo closing in March could poise them to move in right before the Tony cutoff.

katiekat
#63The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 1/1/24 at 8:55pm

The Avett Brothers played a NYE concert last night and Adrian Blake Enscoe guested onstage to sing Swept Away with them- Scott mentioned having 2 weeks left in the run and said it was about to be a Broadway show...! 

I noticed that Adrian's band announced shortly before Swept Away opened at Arena that they'd be touring from late January to very early March, with John Gallagher Jr. joining for most dates. Then there's one random date in upsate NY in May. Could be nothing, but thought it was interesting to have such a gap.

OuttaTowner
#64The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 1/2/24 at 9:17am

Well, unless they’re willing to cancel most of those, it’s a signal that we’re unlikely to see this show before the fall.  

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scripps
#65The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 1/2/24 at 10:54am

The next step for this show may be to record a l'il somethin', so fingers crossed. Regarding a transfer, the sentiment has always been one aiming for the fall which given the glut of shows opening this spring is likely for the best.

Updated On: 1/2/24 at 10:54 AM

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kidmanboy
#66The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 1/12/24 at 7:56am

Saw this last night and, while the production is lovely to look at and well performed, I struggled to get anything out of the music or story (despite a passing familiarity with some if the songs). The show seemed to broad and allegorical (none of the characters have names) to be a personal and introspective story, but it also didn’t succeed for me in creating an allegory. So with only two or three real events happening in the story, it ended up being a very slow 90 minutes. The songs also seemed to only be loosely connected to the plot as well, and didn’t carry much emotional heft. For a rather weighty subject matter, there was ultimately very little drama.
In self-important and serious tone, it reminded me a lot of The Last Ship (which also has a John Logan book), a show I also did not enjoy but thought had more musical standouts. I personally would see this having difficulty breaking through the crowd on Broadway. 

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DottieD'Luscia
#67The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 1/12/24 at 10:55am

I saw this Wednesday evening, and don't see how this will find an audience on Broadway. 

The performances were good across the board, but the music sounded all the same to me.  Had there been an intermission I would have left.

Not much else to add without giving major plot points away.


Hey Dottie! Did your colleagues enjoy the cake even though your cat decided to sit on it? ~GuyfromGermany

getatme
#68The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 1/12/24 at 2:16pm

Saw this show back in November. Thought it was good, not great, but really more bordering on "fine" than anything.

 

The physical production is good. Lighting is beautiful. Incredibly well performed--particularly by Adrian Enscoe who I thought made the absolute most with such an under-written role.

 

Musically, after about the third song everything starts to sound exactly the same in orchestration, mood, and tone, with very few moments that stand out as different. Not altogether a problem, but it does make the whole thing feel a bit sleepy.

 

The biggest problem is the book, though. I rarely advocate for shows to be longer, but this one desperately needs to be 2 acts (with act 1 ending with the shipwreck). There is so little character building in the first half--Gallagher's character seems to dislike Sands's, Sands dislikes Gallagher's, the captain dislikes Gallagher's--to the point where when things start to turn act 2, it felt completely meaningless because we had never seen these 4 people bond and forge a friendship or anything past antagonization. So by the end I kinda shrugged like "Well, he never liked them anyways."

 

Can't imagine they'll be doing any actual work before bringing it to Broadway, which is a shame because it needs it.

somecheapfrenchthing
#69The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 1/15/24 at 5:34pm

"The biggest problem is the book, though. I rarely advocate for shows to be longer, but this one desperately needs to be 2 acts (with act 1 ending with the shipwreck). There is so little character building in the first half--Gallagher's character seems to dislike Sands's, Sands dislikes Gallagher's, the captain dislikes Gallagher's--to the point where when things start to turn act 2, it felt completely meaningless because we had never seen these 4 people bond and forge a friendship or anything past antagonization. So by the end I kinda shrugged like "Well, he never liked them anyways."

I could not agree more. This was one of the few times in my life I thought to myself, "this needs to be longer." I thought it was visually stunning with excellent performances, and I liked the music - - but time spent developing the four main characters pre-wreck was too short for me to feel any real impact from the post-wreck material. The time that was allocated to character exploration was so bite-sized it could only turn out cliches and familiar formulas about brothers, captains, sailors etc. I can't say I didn't enjoy myself, but definitely did not walk away moved. 

 

Gertrude McFuzz2
#70The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 1/15/24 at 5:45pm

Great interview with Adrian on the podcast "Drama Fiends" ... he is definitely someone to watch! He seems to imply the show has life ahead of it...

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defyinggravity2
#71The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 2/10/24 at 8:46pm

My apologies for the delay in reporting back, but I saw this in DC the week before it closed and thought it was spectacular. The whole cast gave stellar performances, but I have to give a special shoutout to Adrian Blake Enscoe as Little Brother, who was the absolute highlight of the show in my eyes. His gorgeous, angelic voice along with his intimate vulnerability and charming boyishness came together to make such a well-rounded and striking performance.

I was completely unfamiliar with The Avett Brothers going into the show, but I have to say that I enjoyed the score a lot and thought that it was smartly crafted into the plot, unlike many other shows we've gotten with non-original scores. 

John Gallagher, Jr. was certainly working his behind off here, and it really shows. My partner who I saw the show with felt that his dialect became heavy-handed at times, but I didn't agree - I thought that his choices worked quite well the vast majority of the time.

The set transition, as others have said, is incredible to watch and it really took my breath away (or should I say swept me away? teehee)

I do think that the book could use a bit of work if the show has life beyond this production - I felt as though I didn't know as much about the characters as I wanted to - but overall this was a really stellar production of some really stellar material and I hope to see it in further incarnations.

charlie525600
#72The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 2/22/24 at 5:15pm

New Article in Variety: "Shipwrecks, Cannibalism and the Avett Brothers: Why ‘Swept Away’s’ Next Stop Could Be Broadway"

 

Notable quote: "The producers of “Swept Away” are trying to keep things lean, aiming for a capitalization of $12 million, much lower than the nearly $20 million that many musicals cost to put on these days."

Ensemble1671566147
#73The Avett Brothers’ SWEPT AWAY musical at Arena Stage
Posted: 2/23/24 at 5:30am

Stark Sands has weirdly always been under the radar even with some high profile roles. But I've always found him to be a very engaging performer.