“The Shark is Broken” is a Broadway-loving shark scientist’s dream come true

A new Broadway show based on the making of Jaws, co-written by and starring Robert Shaw’s son, is some of the most fun I’ve had at the theater in years.

Wearing my finest elasmo-swag to the theater

“Jaws” changed the world, with scientific, cultural, and political impacts that continue to this day. Jaws made the world terrified of sharks, contributing to the current ongoing shark conservation crisis. (Peter Benchley, the author of Jaws, was so troubled by this that he dedicated the last years of his life to saving sharks.) The Hooper character, the first time a scientist was the hero of a major movie, inspired a generation to become marine biologists. The public policy literature refers to “the Jaws effect,” which describes how fictional portrayal of real-world issues influences how citizens feel about those issues (and the mayor of Jaws is still used in political analogies about doing nothing in response to a crisis or prioritizing the economy over safety, with then-PM Boris Johnson calling that character his hero). In short, my professional world is very, very different because of this movie, and I think it’s fair to say that few other movies have had anywhere close to this level of broad and long-lasting impact.

Me in front of the set, the interior of the Orca.
(The barrel you can see poking out is one of the real ones used in the original film)

So when I heard that a show about the making of Jaws was coming to Broadway, I knew I had to get there. And that was before I learned that it was co-written by Jaws star Robert Shaw’s son Ian, who plays his father, and before it started getting stellar reviews.

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