Ernest Shackleton Loves Me is the epic musical adventure starring GrooveLily's fierce and funny electro-violinist Valerie Vigoda (Striking 12), and the courageous and charismatic Wade McCollum (Priscilla Queen of the Desert). This innovative, high-tech adventure tells the story of a sleep-deprived single mom who struggles to work as a video game music composer. Unexpectedly, she is contacted across time by the famous polar explorer, Ernest Shackleton. Inspired by her music, he shares his epic Antarctic journey with her in video and song. Against all odds, they discover that their greatest inspiration lies within each other.
Directed by Obie Award winner Lisa Peterson and written by Tony Award winner Joe DiPietro (Memphis), with music composed by Brendan Milburn and lyrics by Valerie Vigoda, Ernest Shackleton Loves Me features production design by Alexander V. Nichols (Nice Work If You Can Get It), costume design by Chelsea Cook and sound design and original compositions by Tony Award winner Rob Kaplowitz (Fela!). Ernest Shackleton Loves Me was originally co-commissioned by Theatre Works and La Jolla Playhouse.
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes with no intermission.
JOE DIPIETRO (Book) has won two Tony Awards, a Drama Desk Award and 2 Outer Critics Circle Awards. One out-of-town scribe referred to “Ernest Shackleton Loves Me” as the weirdest thing the author has ever written. He happily agrees. Less weird work includes the historical drama, “The Second Mrs. Wilson,” which recently debuted at Long Wharf Theatre and George Street Playhouse. Broadway: Nice Work If You Can Get It (Tony nom – Best Musical), Memphis (Tony winner – Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score.) All Shook Up, Living on Love. Off-Broadway: Clever Little Lies, The Toxic Avenger, The Thing About Men, Over the River and Through the Woods, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Westside Theatre.) Recent regional credits include the new musical Chasing the Song and the new play Hollywood. (both at La Jolla Playhouse.) He sits on the board of Only Make Believe, a charity dedicated to bringing interactive, therapeutic theatre to chronically ill children.
LISA PETERSON (Director) New York: The Model Apartment by Donald Margulies (Primary Stages); Slavs! by Tony Kushner, Traps and Light Shining in Buckinghamshire by Caryl Churchill (Obie Award), The Waves adapt. from Virginia Woolf (two Drama Desk nominations), all at New York Theatre Workshop; The Scarlet Letter adapt. by Phylis Nagy (CSC, world premiere). Regional: Collected Stories by Donald Margulies (South Coast Rep, world premiere, DramaLogue Award); Ikebana by Alice Tuan (East West Players, world premiere, DramaLogue Award); The Batting Cage by Joan Ackermann, JULY 7, 1994 by Donald Margulies, Tough Choices for the New Century by Jane Anderson, Trip’s Cinch by Phylis Nagy (Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival, world premieres); Good Person of Setzuan adapt. by Tony Kushner Triumph of Love adapt. by James Magruder, Arms and the Man by G.B. Shaw, The Swan by Elizabeth Egloff (La Jolla Playhouse); A Moon for the Misbegotten by O'Neill, My Children! My Africa! by Athol Fugard; Fefu and Her Friends by Irene Fornes (Yale Rep); Reckless by Craig Lucas (Hartford Stage). New Play Development: Sundance, The Playwrights' Center, New Dramatists, Young Playwrights' Festival, Taper New Works Festival, Audrey Skirball Kenis, NY Stage and Film, Royal Court London.
BRENDAN MILBURN (Composer) is a stay-at-home dad who also writes songs for characters and situations. Musicals: Striking 12 (Off-Broadway & regional), Sleeping Beauty Wakes (CTG, McCarter, La Jolla), Wheelhouse (TheatreWorks), Toy Story: The Musical (Disney), Long Story Short (regional & Off-Off Broadway), Midsummer Night (in development), Ernest Shackleton Loves Me (Seattle Rep/George St. Playhouse/Arts Emerson/2nd Stage) Watt?!? (Village Theatre), The Behavior of Broadus (CTG, Sacred Fools), Beautiful Poison (5th Avenue). Film: four movies about Tinker Bell (Disney). Awards: Jonathan Larson (2006, 2008), ASCAP/Richard Rodgers (2009), LA Ovation for music direction and best musical (2007), LA Drama Critics Circle for best musical score (2015), LA Stage Raw for best musical, best score (2015), LA Ovation Award for best musical, best music and lyrics (2015). Proudest productions: eleven-year-old Mose and one-year-old Arlen.
VALERIE VIGODA (Performer, Lyricist) is an electric violinist, singer, writer, former Army lieutenant, and founding member of the band GrooveLily. She has toured the world with Cyndi Lauper, Joe Jackson and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and is now spreading her wings as a soloist, with her live-looping multimedia release Just Getting Good (inspired by the technology used in Ernest Shackleton Loves Me). Co-writer of many songs for Disney, as well as the scores for ten stage musicals (such as Striking 12, Sleeping Beauty Wakes, Toy Story: The Musical, Wheelhouse, Long Story Short, and Beautiful Poision) which have been produced from La Jolla Playhouse to Off-Broadway, she has won the Jonathan Larson Award for Excellence in Writing for the Theatre, the LA Ovation Award for Best Musical, and the ASCAP Richard Rodgers Award. An honors graduate of Princeton University, Val is delighted to be the newest Artist Mentor in the groundbreaking, joyous Electrify Your Strings program, which brings rock arrangements and high-octane performance energy to school orchestras throughout the nation. Proudest production: 11-year-old son Mose.
WADE MCCOLLUM (Performer). Wade originated the role of Shackleton at Seattle Rep and went on to play Shackleton at George Street Playhouse and most recently in Boston at the Paramount/Arts Emerson where he won the Norton award for best actor in a musical. Wade has also been seen on Broadway in Wicked, in S.F. in Jersey Boys and also starred in the first national tour of Broadway's Priscilla Queen of the Desert as Tick/Mitzi. Off Broadway he has been seen as the Velociptor of Faith in Triassic Parq, and the Stranger in Secondary Dominance. Other favorite credits include: the Narrator in Fly by Night, Prior in Angels in America, Dracula in Steven Dietz's Dracula, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Crumpet in The Santaland Diaries, the Emcee in Cabaret (Dallas Fort Worth Critic's Circle Award for Best Actor) Charlotte in I am My Own Wife, Peter/Craig in Dying City, Jake in A Lie of the Mind, Lancelot Gobbo in The Merchant of Venice, Batboy in Batboy the Musical and Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch for which he garnered Backstage's Garland Award and the Los Angeles Drama Critic's Circle Award for best actor. While based in LA, Wade originated the role of Woody in Toy Story: The Musical in several workshops for Disney. Film/TV: Sydney Carton in “The Knick” opposite Clive Owen, and Nolan Grigsby in the popular Broadway Web-series Submissions Only.
RYAN O’CONNELL (Music Direction) Thrilled to return to the Antarctic once again! Recently returned from Europe working as music supervisor on the Oceania Marina. As MD: Into the Woods (Lewis Family Playhouse), Claudio Quest (Chance Theater), 1776 (Palos Verdes), On the 20th Century (Musical Theatre West), Cats (Lewis), A Chorus Line (Chance), Pal Joey (MTW), The Grammy Experience (NCL), Nightline: “JFK Anniversary Special” (NBC), “The Fourth Messenger” (San Francisco), Midsummer Night (LA Premiere). As orchestrator: “Sinatra 100 (CBS),” “Michael Bublé’s Christmas in Hollywood” (NBC), Claudio Quest (Chance), Loch Ness (Chance), Browsers (Amazon), Bronies (3rd Street Theater), The Fourth Messenger. As composer/arranger: Dragons (Dreamworks), I Am Big Bird (Copperpot Pictures), Calgary Stampede, choral arrangements for Shawnee Press and Alfred.
ALEXANDER V. NICHOLS (Production Design) is based in San Francisco and designs lighting, scenery and projections for theater, opera, music and dance for companies across the United States and abroad. His Broadway credits include: Wishful Drinking, Hugh Jackman - Back On Broadway, Nice Work If You Can Get It; Off-Broadway productions: In Masks Outrageous and Austere, Los Big Names, Horizon, Bridge and Tunnel, Taking Over, Through the Night, and In the Wake. Regional theater credits include American Conservatory Theater, Mark Taper Forum, National Theater of Taiwan, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Berkeley Repertory Theater, among others. Dance credits include Resident Designer for Pennsylvania Ballet, Hartford Ballet, and American Repertory Ballet, lighting supervisor for American Ballet Theatre and resident visual designer for the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company since 1989. His designs are in the permanent repertory of San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Hubbard Street Dance, Hong Kong Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre, ODC/SF and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Recent projects include the museum installation Circle of Memory, a collaboration with Eleanor Coppola, recently presented in Stockholm, Sweden; and video and visual design for LIFE: A Journey Through Time, a collaboration with Frans Lanting and Philip Glass, recently presented at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.
CHELSEA COOK (Costume Design) is a Seattle-based freelance costume designer, shop manager, and small business owner. Her work has been seen at Seattle Shakespeare Company, Book-It Repertory Theatre, Village Theatre, George Street Playhouse, ArtsEmerson, ACT Theatre, Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, Intiman Studio, and more. Select favorite designs include The Addams Family (Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre) She’s Come Undone, (Gregory Award Nomination, Book-It), What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (Book-It Repertory), Medea (Seattle Shakespeare Co.), Pump Boys & Dinettes (Village Theatre). Chelsea has been on staff at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Village Theatre, and the Intiman Theatre Festival.
ROBERT KAPLOWITZ (Sound Design) is excited to be joining team Shackleton, where he is reuniting with collaborators Lisa Peterson (Bexley, OH!; The Poor Itch), Joe DiPietro (Toxic Avenger), and Alexander Nichols (An Evening With Meow Meow), as well as beginning new relationships with the rest of these artists. He started making sound and music for theater about 30 years ago, at the age of 13. His first true artistic home was under James Houghton at the Eugene O'Neill playwrights conference, where he served as resident designer for 5 summers, while designing, composing and making theater in NYC during the other 11 months of each year. He was honored in 2007 with a "Sustained Excellence in Sound Design" OBIE award and a 2010 Tony Award for Fela!, which subsequently toured the States as well as visiting London, Amsterdam and Lagos. He's pretty sure he's designed more than 300 productions, installations and development projects by now. He currently lives in Philadelphia with his fantastic wife and son, where he continues to work on a mix of devised and traditional theater, and has started creating sound installations, running the Nine Hostage Arts recording studio, teaching at Princeton University and composing musicals.
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“Thanks to Shackleton, Antarctica has never seemed so warm.” - Boston Globe
“Visually impressive, sonically inventive and whimsically diverting.” – Seattle Times
“A must see multi-media extravaganza!” – Examiner