There was a camaraderie in the Ammerman Rehearsal Hall as cast mates and designers from the Berkeley Rep run of Swept Away met the new crew members coming aboard this exciting musical.

Arena Stage Artistic Director Hana S. Sharif spoke first, saying what a special day it was since it was the first time the entire company of Swept Away was together in a room. She also remarked that it was officially two months into her tenure as Artistic Director at Arena Stage.

“The great Molly Smith, my predecessor, left a gift of a first season for me.” Talking specifically about Swept Away she said, “The music, of course, is incredible. As is the script. And we’re so excited to welcome our new cast members! And I get to work with one of the finest production teams in the country.”

Director Michael Mayer then took the stage, remarking about how personal this production felt. “I grew up here,” he revealed, “I was born in D.C. and raised in Bethesda. I was here when Arena Stage was just the Fichandler!” Mayer added that although he has been involved in theater almost his whole life, Swept Away will be his first production in D.C.

“This is a really big deal for me,” he said, “Zelda Fichandler, who founded this theater, was instrumental in my becoming a director.”

Set Designer Rachel Hauck joked that, despite a larger cast than the Berkeley production, “we did not get a bigger boat” – and began to explain the construction of how she built a ship mid-wreck on stage. Not to spoil anything but she also divulged how they built a boat within a boat…but you’ll have to see Swept Away to understand why.

About Swept Away


Swept Away docks at Arena Stage from November 25 through December 30, 2023 on the Kreeger Stage. In it, a violent storm sinks their whaling ship off the coast of New Bedford, forcing four survivors to face a reckoning: how far will they go to stay alive? And can they live with the consequences? With music and lyrics from The Avett Brothers (“America’s Biggest Roots Band,” Rolling Stone), Swept Away is an electrifying, soul-stirring new musical exploring how facing tragedy can open the door to forgiveness… if only we’ll let it.

Get your tickets now. They are selling fast!

Photos by Chris Mueller.