Why Tony winner John Gallagher Jr. joined the new musical swept up before reading the script | The Broadway Buzz

Stark Sands, Wayne Duvall, John Gallagher, Jr. and Adrian Blake Enscoe in “Swept Away”
(Photo: Kevin Berne/Berkley Repertory Theatre)

John Gallagher Jr., a Tony winner for his featured performance in spring awakeningis back on stage in the world premiere of swept away at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in California. The musical, which features music from the Avett Brothers, has a book by Tony winner John Logan and tells the story of four men who survive a shipwreck and are stranded at sea. Here, Gallagher Jr. chats with the Broadway.com editor Paul Wontorek on why he said yes to the production before even reading a script, the “full spin” moment he has with the music and more.

After first getting involved with the project in 2017 and announcing a 2020 debut which was later delayed due to theater closures, Gallagher Jr. shares what it’s like to finally perform swept away to audiences. “It’s surreal for all of us to be back on stage after this drought,” he said. “It’s been a long gestation period. I think we all pinch ourselves to have been given the keys to the kingdom, so to speak, which is the chance to be together again in a rehearsal room, to work on a new piece and to go on stage.”

John Gallagher Jr in swept away
(Photo: Kevin Berne/Berkley Repertory Theatre)

This is the third time Tony winner Michael Mayer has directed Gallagher Jr., having worked with the actor on spring awakening and american idiot on Broadway. Their frequent collaboration is just one of the many reasons Gallagher Jr. was so keen to join the production. “Where it all started for me was the music of the Avett Brothers. I’ve been a huge fan of them for years. I had an Avett Brothers poster in my dressing room that I looked at before I went on stage every nights. [on Broadway] so it’s kind of a kismet full-loop moment,” he said. The fact that an Avett Brothers show randomly fell into my lap, being directed by one of my closest associates, was such a no-brainer. I agreed to do it before there was even a script. I said, ‘Absolutely, I don’t even know what it’s going to be and I don’t care. If it’s Michael Mayer and the Avett Brothers, sounds like a dream come true, sign me up. Lo and behold, John Logan, the masterful playwright that he is, came on board to write our book and it’s breathtaking. If you took the songs out of the piece, it would be an amazing piece on its own.”

swept away has been playing in front of the public since January 9 and has received three extensions, until March 13. “I would love nothing more than to see this have a life beyond because I think that’s good enough,” Gallagher Jr. told the musical’s future. “I really think it’s one of the best plays I’ve been in, which is saying something. Nothing would make me happier than being able to bring it to New York and share it.”

Watch the interview below and head here to check your local listings for The Broadway Show. Hosted by Emmy-winning presenter Tamsen Fadal, it is the only nationally broadcast weekly theatrical current affairs program.