‘The Shark Is Broken’ on Broadway is a Fintastic Must-See for ‘Jaws’ Fans
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be a fly on the wall during the tumultuous making of Jaws, then prepare yourself for The Shark is Broken, a captivating stage play that you never knew you needed, but absolutely do.
The play was penned by Joseph Nixon and Ian Shaw, son of the legendary Robert Shaw (yes, Quint’s son) who not only co-wrote the show but also steps into his father’s water-logged boots to play him, delivering an uncanny resemblance in both manner and accent. Alongside Shaw, Colin Donnell portrays Roy Scheider with the ever-dynamic Broadway favorite, Alex Brightman (of Beetlejuice the Musical fame), who takes on the role of Richard Dreyfuss.
The plot unfolds during production aboard the Orca and draws inspiration from multiple sources, including Carl Gottlieb’s book, The Jaws Log, as well as interviews with Spielberg, Dreyfuss, Scheider, and Robert Shaw’s personal drinking diaries. The show vividly portrays the behind-the-scenes dynamics among the actors during the famously troubled and over-budget production which was mainly marred by malfunctions of Bruce, the mechanical shark.
The three men, each at different stages of life and career, navigate their boredom and misery from sea sickness and the grueling heat through games, drinking, and authentically intimate conversations that reveal each of their vulnerabilities. Notably, the play delves into the intense conflict between Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw, shedding light on Shaw’s struggles with alcohol that fueled the tensions on the Jaws set.
A particular highlight is the exploration of Quint’s iconic USS Indianapolis speech, which was rewritten on set by Robert Shaw himself, who initially was too intoxicated to deliver it in one take. The play is also filled with Easter eggs, including famous lines, design elements, and musical cues from Jaws, as well as playful jabs at the current state of Hollywood.
However, beyond its fanboy appeal, the show transcends into a story of heritage, struggle, and redemption with a strong thematic exploration of father-son dynamics, unsurprisingly given its creation by a son honoring his complex yet venerable father. This emotional depth adds a soulful layer to the largely humorous show.
If you find yourself in the New York area, The Shark is Broken comes highly recommended. It’s an entertaining and surprisingly touching journey that revisits familiar territory through a fresh lens and feels like a heartwarming reunion with old friends.