Chicago Theater Review: ALL THAT JAWS (Theater Wit)

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by Lawrence Bommer on October 20, 2012

in Theater-Chicago


The only excuse for reviewing this 70-minute trifle is that they’re charging $20 to see it when it would be worth twice as much to pay to get out. Mired in forced rhymes and scansion, forgettable tunes, lame lyrics, grade-school props, seemingly improvised dialogue, and a plot that fails as both parody and satire, this musical one-act based on the 1975 thriller puts a lot of promising performers through a showbiz shredder. As a favor to their future, I’ll omit all but one name, since having appeared in this travesty could constitute a resume-killer.

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of ALLL THAT JAWS at Theater Wit in Chicago

All That Jaws doggedly sticks to the Spielberg original, except, that is, for making Jaws himself a wanna-be nice fish who, in the only good line here, “is hungry for anything new.” Poor voracious Jaws keeps eating the people he means to befriend and, well, the humans just don’t get him. (David Stone, gifted with an ardent tenor, makes Jaws as winsome as the silly part deserves.) After the first victim goes down, the village idiot, who happens to be the mayor, thinks said victim was eaten by her boat – though another imbecile thinks the chomper could have been a lesbian.

Anyway, Amity doesn’t want to be known as “Shark City,” so they hire a disco-era Captain Ahab to pursue the salt-water monster. Things don’t go so swimmingly as a grizzled shark hunter, an overwhelmed police chief, and an eager-beaver oceanographer join in a silly hunt for the well-meaning carnivore.

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of ALLL THAT JAWS at Theater Wit in Chicago

In no way could the effects that follow ever be called special. Though cheesier than the chewy flotsam stuck between the teeth of a Great White shark, and dumber than a barnacle, the best moment lasts a minute: An underwater ballet of mermaids surround Jaws as the misunderstood muncher tries to bite his way into Amity’s good graces (although he does have the good sense to devour Peter the Pervert and a local whore). Yes, that’s the humor here, folks, and there’s not enough booze in the lobby to make it work.

There’s nothing here to sink your teeth into. They don’t need a bigger boat, just a better show.

Lawrence Bommer’s Stage and Cinema review of ALLL THAT JAWS at Theater Wit in Chicago

photos by Abbey Olenick

All That Jaws
presented by Erin Lane, Keenan Camp, Logan Dean and Chris Gorton
at Theater Wit
book by Keenan Camp, Logan Dean, and Chris Gorton;
music by Keenan Camp and Chris Gorton;
musical direction by Ryan Miera and choreography by Nikki Pierce
scheduled to end on December 7, 2012 CLOSING November 9, 2012
for tickets, visit

for info on this and other Chicago Theater, visit


Bill October 21, 2012 at 2:54 pm


Where to start.

First I’d like to offer my condolences on the death of your senses of whimsy, humor or even common sense. Maybe your knickers were in a serious knot or maybe you haven’t been laid in a century or two, or maybe you suffer from some frightful sexual anxieties that render you fearful of chopping, bitting big teeth.

This play was a delightful, fanciful farce with high humor, good songs sung well and an insouciance that any non-prig would find delightful and thigh-slappingly funny.

Methinks this reviewer needs a nap and a nice mommy to say that it will all be alright in time. Meanwhile, the adults that appreciate grand silliness and fun theatre will flock to this goofy and thoroughly satisfying comedy.


Ron Green October 24, 2012 at 4:51 am

OMG!! Did we attend the same play? I and everyone else there (except you) seemed to have had a thoroughly enjoyable time. I judge this by the amount of laughing we all did. Perhaps the adult humor employed was a little more than you could handle or understand. I had the pleasurer (lol) of sitting accross the isle from you and was distracted by your squirming and constant looking around. Was something you had for dinner disagreeing with you?

In closing Mr. “Bummer” a good attitude and a sense of humor goes a long ways in being a “theater critic”. Oh ya – most people do not need “enough booze” to make them laugh just a sense of humor. Have a great day…


James October 26, 2012 at 8:05 am

I’m glad you guys have friends in this show but this reviewer is pretty spot on.

I mean, yeah, there are some good performances and I actually liked some of the songs as songs but they were ruined by a lack of choreography, production, and sometimes energy. The script is boring without any kind of real satirical slant.

The tickets are way too expensive for this kind of show. It’s not wrong to expect twice the comedy and camp; ideas from a play that cost twice as much as your usual improv show in the city of Chicago.

Reviewers don’t have any kind of axe to grind, he just wrote about what he saw from his view in the audience. You’re the ones who are making personal attacks.

mona October 29, 2012 at 10:14 pm

I really find the original review quite negative and unfair. The cast was young and fabulous; quite a variety of unusual talent. The play itself was well-written and moved at a pleasant pace,mixing music and humor in a magical manner. The subtle word plays, outrageous songs, and physical comedy offered a comfortable milieu of comedic devices. And guess what? The audience loved this show,as was evidenced by lots of laughter and joyous energy, both of which could not be missed. I heartily recommend this fresh new musical comedy. It’s a happy twist on a classic film; you are bound to leave home grinning.

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