On The Scene: THE SHARK IS BROKEN’s First Preview On Broadway

On The Scene

Colin Donnell, Ian Shaw, and Alex Brightman | Photo: Matthew Murphy

Kobi Kassal
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July 26, 2023 12:19 PM

There’s no better way to usher in Shark Week 2023 than with the first performance of The Shark Is Broken right here on Broadway. This fresh new work follows Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, and Richard Dreyfuss as the three actors are stuck on a boat during the film of Jaws in 1974. Theatrely was on the scene last night to celebrate their first preview.

Written by Joseph Nixon and Ian Shaw (son of Robert Shaw), and directed by Guy Masterson, this intimate behind-the-scene look is a fascinating discovery into the beloved classic film. Shaw plays his father, while Alex Brightman portrays Dreyfuss and Colin Donnell portrays Scheider. Shaw made his Broadway debut with the performance last night, while we welcomed Brightman and Donnell back to Broadway after they were last seen in Beetlejuice and Violet, respectively. 

The comedic play had its first performance in England back in 2019 before making its way to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. After rave reviews, a West End transfer was set for March of 2020 but was shuttered due to the pandemic. The performance finally made its way to the Ambassadors Theatre in the fall of 2021, where the play was nominated for a 2022 Oliver Award. After swimming across the Atlantic, the play made its North American debut at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto before finally beginning performances on Broadway last night. An official opening night is set for August 10. 

As I approached the Golden Theatre, the line of eager fans stretched all the way down 45th Street long before the doors even opened. All different types of shark apparel were seen: shirts, shorts, and even a custom dress and purse celebrating the film. We spoke to a few “finatics,” as they are colloquially called, to see what brought them to the show. 

Kira told me she rearranged her schedule at work to fly up from Orlando to make it to the first performance. She was first in line, sporting an Amity Boat Tours shirt from the popular Captain Jake’s Amity Tours / Jaws attraction at Universal Studios. “I’ve always enjoyed the movie because you get that mysterious element. I was eventually hired to be a skipper on the Jaws ride down in Orlando. This property has always been a large part of me and has had a big impact on my life. I just knew I had to be here,” she told me. 

I also met a lovely family who traveled to New York from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, to be at the first performance. They told me they have an annual family tradition of watching Jaws every Fourth of July. “I’ve read a lot about the problems they had making the film and all about the relationships between the actors on set. When I heard Robert Shaw’s son was doing this I started reading all about it. We have been looking forward to this for a long time,” said the father of the family. 

I counted no less than 4 fans who were dressed in full-on shark costumes, including Joseph, one of the creators of @SharkDressedMen on TikTok. “Jaws was one of the first blockbusters and I love all of Steven Spielberg's works.”

For now, you have eight chances a week to head over to the Golden and get immersed in the history of this iconic film and fill up on a nice cup of clam chowder. 

For tickets and more information to The Shark Is Broken, visit here

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Kobi Kassal

Hailing from sunny South Florida, Kobi Kassal founded Theatrely (formerly Theatre Talk Boston) while attending Boston University. He is an avid theatre attender and can be found seeing a performance most nights of the week (in normal times!) He is interested in the cross section of theatre, popular culture, hospitality, and politics. He also loves a good bagel!