The Seattle world premiere of the Jaws-inspired stage musical Bruce has reeled in its Steven Spielberg: The Tony-nominated actor Jarrod Spector will play the young filmmaker circa 1974 as he confronts various challenges while directing what would become the most ferocious of all summer blockbusters.
Not least of those challenges: the “highly dysfunctional mechanical star named Bruce,” as the musical’s synopsis states, referring to the robot shark that made filming a nightmare.
Based on The Jaws Log, a 1975 nonfiction behind-the-scenes account of the film’s production by Jaws co-screenwriter Carl Gottlieb, the musical, directed and choreographed by Stratford Festival’s Donna Feore, begins previews at Seattle Rep’s Bagley Wright Theater on May 27, with opening night set for June 8. The engagement runs through June 26.
“After watching Jaws the first time, for years I was so terrified of the water I could barely step foot in a swimming pool, let alone the ocean,” said Spector, who most recently starred on Broadway as Sonny Bono in The Cher Show and was Tony-nominated for his performance as Barry Mann in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. “Now having joined the Bruce gang — and having read The Jaws Log, of course — I’ve learned that making the movie was every bit as harrowing as what the guys on the Orca endured.
“It’s a real honor to portray perhaps the foremost genius in all of filmmaking,” he continued, “and I’m so excited to work with Donna Feore and the whole Bruce team to help tell this story about the group of brilliant artists who stared down every obstacle imaginable to somehow emerge with this genre-defying masterpiece. I just hope Mr. Spielberg doesn’t mind that his singing voice sounds an awful lot like my own.”
Also announced today was the musical’s full creative team: In addition to music by Richard Oberacker, book and lyrics by Robert Taylor and Oberacker — the team behind the 2017 Broadway musical Bandstand — Bruce will feature scenic design by Jason Sherwood, costume design by Tina McCartney, lighting design by Jeff Croiter, sound design by Brian Hsieh, projection design by Shawn Duan, music direction by Lily Ling and orchestration/music supervision by Greg Anthony Rassen.
Additional casting information will be announced soon.
The musical originally was scheduled to have made its debut last year at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse, but the Covid pandemic shutdown prompted the change in plans.
The official synopsis: Bruce tells the story of a virtually unknown 26-year-old Steven Spielberg in 1974 as he sets out to film an adaptation of a best-selling novel. While invading a sleepy fishing island off Cape Cod to shoot on the open ocean, he faced several challenges — including weather, water, hostile locals, an exploding budget, endless delays and a highly dysfunctional mechanical star named Bruce — to bring his vision to life in what proved to be one of the biggest success stories in film history.
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