Jaws musical

This year marks the 45th anniversary of Jaws, director Steven Spielberg‘s iconic film that ushered in the modern era of Hollywood blockbusters. But before the retrospective pieces begin rolling in, let’s look ahead to 2021, because that’s when a stage musical called Bruce, named after the constantly-malfunctioning mechanical shark which plagued Spielberg’s set, is set to open at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse. And from the description of the play, it seems like Jaws fans from all over might want to plan on making a pilgrimage to Jersey to check this out in person.

Deadline brings word about this upcoming Jaws musical, which is officially described like this:

“Chronicling the making of an iconic movie, Bruce tells the story of then unknown director Steven Spielberg’s beleaguered film set and the challenges that thwarted his team at every turn, including the film’s star: an uncooperative mechanical shark named Bruce. At its heart, the show proves that when we are faced with hardship and work together as a team, great things can happen.”

That sounds…kind of great? I’ve seen several musical re-imaginings of classic movies on stage before, but never one with the meta approach of adapting the production of the film instead of the film itself. I’m extremely curious about the vision director and choreographer Donna Feore has for this – specifically if she intends to depict events that take place underwater. Richard Oberacker is writing the book and lyrics and Robert Taylor is handling the music; that duo previously worked together on a 2017 Broadway play called Bandstand. The story is based on Jaws screenwriter Carl Gottlieb‘s 1975 memoir The Jaws Log, which is described as “the only book on how twenty-six-year-old Steven Spielberg transformed Peter Benchley’s number-one bestselling novel into the classic film it became.”

If you haven’t heard the stories about the making of this movie, they’re absolutely legendary. For my money, there’s no better way to get fully immersed in the making of this movie than by watching filmmaker Jamie Benning‘s feature length “filmumentary” that was released in 2013. We wrote about it at the time, with Russ Fischer describing it as “a hyper-extended commentary [track] that collate[s] interviews, production info and photos, deleted scenes, alternate takes, and other materials into a hyper-detailed ‘making-of’ portrait.” If you find yourself with some free time on your hands and you’ve never made time to watch it, you can rectify that below:

Bruce, a co-production with Seattle Rep, will have its world premiere at the Paper Mill Playhouse and will run from June 9July 4, 2021. (I’m sure the Jaws mayor will be furious about that closing date.)

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Jaws turns 40 this year, when in fact it will turn 45.

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