Whatever floats your bigger boat – is Jaws good material for a musical?

A Seattle musical is based on the development of the iconic film

© Lindsay Thomas

First came The Shark Is Broken – an Olivier-nominated swash-buckling three-hander that dived behind-the-scenes on troubled blockbuster Jaws.

Now, across the Atlantic in Seattle, Bandstand creatives Robert Taylor (book/lyrics) and Richard Oberacker (music/book/lyrics) have tried to pull off a similar trick by plotting the piecemeal production of the legendary film, which seemed destined for failure when it was being conceived.

But just because the movie was an erstwhile success story doesn't mean the musical would be too. The premise for the stage show is relatively simple: Bruce (named after the shark's nickname) "follows the development of Jaws from novel form through the long and troubled six-month film shoot. Steven Spielberg (Jarrod Spector) is a young director with a childlike wonder and is ready to make the "Big One," as expressed in the opening number. Fresh off a smaller-budget film, Jaws is his chance to prove to Universal and the public that he has what it takes to be as good as his cinematic heroes."

So far so simple – an "intrepid creative succeeding against the odds" sort of show – like Sunday in the Park with George, but more Six Months in the Ocean with Steve.

Sadly, the creatives might have something of a sinking feeling after opening night: our reviewer in Seattle has said the show is "musically uninteresting", and that "we have little time to care about what is transpiring".

It is Spector (Beautiful) as Spielberg that seems to gain the most praise: "Bruce is told through the eyes of Spielberg, who frequently has asides to the audience, both sung and spoken. Though Spielberg's childlike outlook of the world is directly referenced throughout, his passion and excitement are reinforced thanks to Spector's wide-eyed performance."

There might be light at the end of the tunnel – while our critic is certainly critical, he doesn't denounce the attempt or the form, more the result. With a longer run-time and greater focus on character, there may be life for the show yet.

Read the review in full here