Members say: Clever, Entertaining, Quirky, Great singing, Ambitious

About the show

GrooveLily's electro-violinist Valerie Vigoda stars in this high-tech musical adventure about two extraordinary people connecting across time and space. Featuring a book by Tony winner Joe DiPietro ('Memphis').

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In 'Ernest Shackleton Loves Me,' a sleep-deprived single mom (Vigoda, who also penned the lyrics) struggles to work as a video game music composer. Late one night, while posting a dating video, she receives an unexpected response from the polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922). Shipwrecked and stranded on an iceberg in the Antarctic, Shackleton reaches across space and time to share his heroic journey with her. Against all odds, they discover that their greatest inspiration lies within each other. Directed by Obie Award winner Lisa Peterson.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews


“A wildly fun and unpredictable new two-person musical comedy…As played by the energetic and charismatic Valerie Vigoda, Kat is really quite a catch. Vigoda also wrote the clever, storytelling lyrics…Add a solidly quirky book by Joe DiPietro and a spirited production by director Lisa Peterson, and ‘Ernest Shackleton Loves Me’ is just as lovable as musicals come…The plot may be thin, but the enjoyable score is a terrific mix of pop, folk and techno...This one will melt your heart.” Full Review


"Under the direction of Peterson, this NY premiere proudly waves its freak flag, and, perhaps taking a clue from the adventures of the title character, boldly dares to risk its life in the admirable search for innovation...While Vigoda and McCollum don't have much romantic chemistry, they're both delightfully quirky performers who really know how to sell the material...Peterson's direction guides them both into larger-than-life performances that, remarkably, are down-to-earth at the same time." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Under Peterson's canny direction, this bizarre premise is so smoothly put over that there are many things to enjoy...The exchanges between a frazzled twenty-first century woman and her Edwardian explorer are often amusing...The idea of using this historical event as a way of working out Kat's personal problems is so weirdly random that often one's mind wanders...A confident production with many crowd-pleasing aspects, but it is built on a questionable concept." Full Review

The New York Times

"Vigoda and Milburn's works mix the snarky and the sentimental. Under Lisa Peterson’s focused direction, 'Ernest Shackleton' is no exception...With the exception of a cheerily disjointed opening number, the score and the narrative that encases it are too tidy to allow for much real feeling. Kat is supposedly an experimental composer, but most of the music is merry pastiche...If Mr. DiPietro’s premise is nicely weird, his psychology and story rarely buck convention." Full Review

New York Theater

"This charming, kooky, playful, tuneful, toe-tapping original musical probably shouldn’t work as well as it does. Much of the credit goes to the two performers, Wade McCollum and Valerie Vigoda, who is also the lyricist and plays a mean electric violin...The sentimental, self-help aspects of 'Ernest Shackleton Loves Me' don’t get in the way of what is so enjoyable about the show. The most delightful aspect of 'Ernest Shackleton Loves Me' are the lively musical numbers." Full Review

Broadway Blog

“This unusual 90-minute work blends music, comedy, history, and contemporary social angst in a multimedia smoothie I promise won't give you brain freeze…It takes a little time to warm you up…Once you're on board, though, director Lisa Peterson creatively steers you through a string of wild adventures, including climbing a mountain…I was bowled over by the bearded McCollum, a tall, athletic, deep-voiced actor, who not only sings extremely well but displays chameleonic virtuosity.” Full Review

Time Out New York

"A bighearted but very silly musical...Brendan Milburn’s music is lovely, and the two actors sound great performing it...The painfully broad humor in Joe DiPietro’s script only heightens the feeling that we’re watching an after-school special for grown-ups. But 'Ernest Shackleton Loves Me' is so clearly a labor of love that it’s hard to be too bothered by the cartoonishness, even as the show sails into shallow waters." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"A production that has Peterson maximizing its many strengths. The musical is so original that many spectators might sit through it with jaws dropped. That’s when they’re not cheering its high entertainment quotient...To give the impression Kat’s satisfied with having had the imagined Shackleton affair is pushing whimsy too far. That doesn’t do it for a woman with this amount of indomitable spirit...'Ernest Shackleton Loves Me' still comes across as absolutely original. It’s a welcome rarity." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"Quirky, contemporary, romantic and utterly adorable. This new musical with an addictive score is sure to lure audiences into this magical fantasy and become an instant cult hit...History, adventure and songs will have you movin' and groovin' in your chair, exhilarating your senses...Joe DiPietro’s book is charming, but it is Lisa Peterson’s direction that sets this show a-sailing...Don’t let this ocean voyaging yarn pass you by." Full Review


“Chelsea Cook's costumes are completely realistic, but Nichols' physical set with its scaffolding and onstage equipment never lets us forget that we are in a theater, not on an adventure since his lighting never blocks anything out. Lisa Peterson's direction is smooth but she is unable to turn the show into something that it isn't. ‘Ernest Shackleton Loves Me’ requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief but may charm those who easily succumb to whimsy.” Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"As someone who was deeply moved by the story of Shackleton and the brave crew of the Endurance, I was distressed to see this story misappropriated for so frivolous a purpose. To project film clips and stills from their expedition to prop up this silly show is almost a desecration. Perhaps a younger audience unfamiliar with his story and with a taste for electronic music will find the show more congenial. I found it a pointless waste of time." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"There is little by way of set design beyond the large video installation and a few props, but imagination and the energetic performances take care of the rest. Musically, the show is filled with thumping songs ranging from pop tunes to sea chanteys to soaring power ballads...Corny, perhaps, but the performances are so splendid, that you will find it hard to resist all of the positive energy that pours off the fine co-stars." Full Review


"The engaging and original comic musical is definitely a respite from some of the recent substandard adaptations of popular films and books littering the theatrical landscape...DiPietro’s book is quite witty, with a wonderful pro-feminist message, the score by Vigoda and Milburn is smart and tuneful...And yet, the show’s 90 minutes just don’t fly by as fast as might be expected...The show’s premise is still a bit of thin ice, no matter how well the super-talented McCollum and skate on it!" Full Review

Woman Around Town

"Though DiPietro’s Book periodically suffers from trying too hard to be funny, most writing knits in well...Music and lyrics are of wildly different quality...Actors Vigoda and McCollum are both fine musicians and strong vocalists...Director Lisa Peterson skillfully leads us from Brooklyn to the Antarctic and back...Music is nicely integrated. Danger is adeptly conjured...'Ernest Shackleton Loves Me' sometimes challenges patience, but taking the ride is not without rewards." Full Review

Broadway & Me

"A winsome rom-com...Director Lisa Peterson keeps things zipping along through the show's 90 minutes. And special kudos must go to designer Nichols, whose video projections make smart use of the historic footage from the real expedition...The show is silly, with most of the humor supplied by the talented Wade McCollum...At heart, 'Ernest Shackleton Loves Me' is an old-fashioned inspirational tale about having the courage to endure, be it subzero temperatures or a 3 a.m. feeding." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"A lot of silliness but it’s funny and clever storytelling...We follow Shackleton and Kat through Antarctica, hear some new-age music, see some terrific technology and witness some of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time. McCollum, with a twinkle and grin, blessed with a rich voice and good acting chops, should go on to be theater’s next new leading man while Vigoda is a genius electric violinist and actor. Thanks to director Lisa Peterson, the show vibrates and resonates." Full Review

Act Three - The Reviews

"Quirky is the word that comes to mind...Ernest Shackleton (Wade McCollum) is a real-life explorer who went to Antarctica. An odd choice for leading man. However the leading lady (Valerie Vigoda) can strum the electric violin like nobody's business while she's going along on her excursion with Ernest. Quirky-they fall in love. Quirky-it's just weird, silly, a bit absurd, but at least it was quick." Full Review

Musical Theater Review

“Exhilarating…Just go along for the ride. It’s a wildly entertaining one...There’s the score filled with perky ballads, dramatic anthems and spirited renderings of sea chanteys…Vigoda is totally convincing…A wonderfully well-tooled product…The staging by director Lisa Peterson is highly inventive…The adventure becomes so enthralling that when it reaches its conclusion with all crew members safe, you may well join in the cheering.” Full Review

Village Voice

"Thanks to the expertise of its inventive makers and performers, ‘Ernest Shackleton Loves Me’ proves an enjoyable bite-size epic, zipping along on a good-humored script, a lively, melodic score, and direction from Lisa Peterson...Vigoda invests Kat with a winning energy, and McCollum, an especially fine vocalist, cuts a charismatic figure as the courageous Shackleton. Together, their blazing performances melt away any doubts about the show’s potentially dubious concept.” Full Review

The Wrap

"Seldom has quirk felt more like work...Vigoda seems to be in a completely different production from her co-star...McCollum is confident to the point of absurdity...The discrepancy in performance styles and charisma has the unfortunate effect of amplifying the many weaknesses of the premise and plotting. And then there’s the score, which skis swiftly downhill...Cleverly staged and boasts some striking individual elements. But overall, this show proves more twee than treat." Full Review


"What sells it is the unrelenting charisma of McCollum combined with Vigoda's impressive musicianship. McCollum switches easily between several characters...Has its share of exhilarating moments, but starts to run out of steam in the latter part of the show...It's a show that may at times be a bit too zany for its own good, but it charms thanks to its incredibly appealing performers and its thoughtful design...Sure to resonate with audiences in need of a good pick-me-up." Full Review

Motherhood Later

“Vigoda turns in an inspired, heartfelt performance and impressively plays the electric violin…The strapping, likable Wade McCollum plays the boyfriend and the banjo-playing Shackelton and nails both roles…Smartly staged by director Lisa Peterson, images are projected on a large screen, largely featuring Shackelton’s explorations, which lend a dose of drama and realism...There are amusing moments, but the musical ultimately grows thin and frigid.” Full Review


"A goofy story. It should not work, but does and beautifully...A musical that doesn't take itself too seriously...Done with clever production design...Vigoda, who is sweet and badass as Kat, is at her best playing music and singing. Still, she has great chemistry with Shackleton. McCollum is a blizzard onto himself—he storms over the stage as Shackleton... Absolutely worth a trip upstairs to discover it." Full Review

The New York Times

for a previous production "Wildly quirky in its contemporary style and tone, 'Ernest Shackleton Loves Me' is an intrepid new musical...The score is propulsive and agreeably melodic. For all of its charm, the musical is not entirely watertight...A sudden shift into a farcical tone in the show’s later stretches raises a good bit of laughter but seems somewhat jarring...But for its greater part, the musical offers a wonderfully bracing time that is enhanced by smart staging from the director, Lisa Peterson." Full Review

New Jersey Stage

for a previous production "The whirlwind theatrical experience that comprises 'Ernest Shackleton Loves Me' gleefully defies description...If you aren't already familiar with Vigoda and Milburn's eclectic sound from their music for GrooveLily, it's just as difficult to concisely describe as the fantastic plot. Their songs can range from pointedly theatrical to soaringly rhapsodic...One thing's for certain, it's always remarkable to have theatrical visionaries like Vigoda and Milburn back in the Garden State." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you want to laugh and hear great violin playing. Story is very funny. The actors were great.

Don't see it if I see not reason not to see this.

Also I laugh some much watching this play. Very glad I purchase tickets to ... Read more Read less

Clever, Quirky, Indulgent, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if charming & playful musical is for you. that shouldn’t work as well as it does. The two actors get all the credit. Create staging musical

Don't see it if a two person cast is not enough for you. If you have problems with abstract themes.

Delightful, Quirky, Refreshing, Slow

See it if You like electric violin. Very talented 2 person cast. Tongue in cheek fun.

Don't see it if If you don't like a slower pace. It was only 90 min, and still felt slow. Still glad I saw it.

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Exquisite

See it if See it if you like an original fantasy with delightful setting acting and music

Don't see it if Youre looking for conventional realistic theatre

Also A relief to get away from the crowds tourists and rip off prices of br... Read more Read less

Delightful, Enchanting, Romantic, Amazing singing

See it if You like great music and singing. Crazy talented cast. Good story and wonderful musical accompaniment by all. Pure fun!

Don't see it if If you can't suspend your disbelief, crazy story.

Clever, Entertaining, Humorous, Great singing

See it if well, you can no longer see the show. 6/11 was the last performance.

Don't see it if n/a

Also it was a cute show. performances were nicely done.

Funny, Masterful, Hilarious, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You love musicals in an unusual presentation.

Don't see it if You don't like zany musicals.

Also I would have seen it again it was fantastic.

Great acting, Quirky, Confusing, Great singing

See it if You like quirky shows with two excellent actors and singers and are prepared to give a pass to a weak plot and silly contrivance.

Don't see it if You like straightforward 'vanilla' musicals with large casts and big dance numbers.

Clever, Edgy, Entertaining

See it if single mom goes on an adventure with a larger-than- life character, and discovers how fierce, creative, and tough she really is.Brilliant

Don't see it if you are not ready to use your imagination.

Also Val Vigoda is awesome in this play! She is a great electric violinist,... Read more Read less

Funny, Clever, Intense, Quirky, Confusing

See it if You like off-beat quirky musical performances. The actors were great.

Don't see it if You are expecting a traditional musical with humable songs.

Also Let's face it, the story was strange. A woman today making contact via... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent, Disappointing, Great singing

See it if Two terrific performers. Engaging, hummable music. Very cleverly staged. Original.

Don't see it if I wasn't that interested in the story, which involves a Brooklyn mom and an Antarctic explorer. Too heavy on the exploration for me.

Indulgent, Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if you want to see an outstanding performance from Wade McCollum. Too bad the material does not match his talent.

Don't see it if you have other options.

Also This may very well be the worst show of the 2016-2017 season. The soun... Read more Read less

Clever, Delightful, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if you'd like a fun chamber musical with hi-tech production design and music-making

Don't see it if you prefer your musicals dark and serious

Also An excellent example of using history, imagination, and hi-tech in bot... Read more Read less

Clever, Delightful, Intelligent, Great singing, Great staging

See it if you want a fast paced, original musical that cleverly uses multi-media to enhance a unique story. Thoroughly fun and entertaining.

Don't see it if you don't like imaginative musicals that suspend reality to create a show that is innovative and enthralling.

Enchanting, Humorous, Fluffy, Bouncy, Optimistic

See it if you like a bouncy, feel good piece, with no expectations of the audience other than sit back and enjoy.

Don't see it if you need a realistic piece that isn't so sweet that it causes diabetes in laboratory animals.

Also An overworked, underpaid, overwhelmed single mother descends into madn... Read more Read less

Clever, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if partners 85 my 80 talent is great, singing and playing many musical instruments projections are good.

Don't see it if not big enough for the stage. story "kinda" of hard to believe although good attempt.

Delightful, Enchanting, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You love a new take on American musicals

Don't see it if You are a big fan or traditional musicals

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want a 90-minute journey through modern times and the Antarctic! The two leads of this show are very talented and entertaining.

Don't see it if you want a large production or one set fully in realty; this walks the line.

Clever, Quirky, Entertaining, Great singing, Unique

See it if you like innovative new musicals tackling common subjects in new ways, you enjoy new music performed well

Don't see it if you want standard musical format, you want big casts, you don't like new musicals

Also Interesting take on topic of a woman finding herself. Through sleep de... Read more Read less

Clever, Intelligent, Quirky, Predictable, Sweet

See it if You like romantic comedies. This is sort of like one of those but with a bit of an odd history channel vibe thing going on. I liked it.

Don't see it if You're not prepared to sit through a bit of a mishmash. Could use a better hand at direction. You end up caring more about him than her.

Funny, Clever, Must see, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if You want fresh, unique mix of incredible true history melded to great acting and musicianship. The historical footage alone- unforgettable.

Don't see it if you don't like electric violin. you dont want a "fantastical journey". I didn't love the smart alecky set up but it had a purpose.

Also I have been familiar with the story of the Endurance since I was a chi... Read more Read less

Very willing suspension of disbelief, Optimism = moral courage, A work of the imagination, Throw rulebooks aside/get on for the ride, Continuously surprisingly inventive

See it if to be gobsmacked by an impossible situation suggested by impossible events, performed by uber talented musician performers is 2 your liking

Don't see it if you have never willingly suspended your disbelief, require rules for your theatre going, can never be surprised, or lack empathy for others

Also Ernest Shackleton Loves Me is the most surprisingly inventive musical ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You enjoy great music and acting. Hi Tech backdrop and fantastic violin play and music. Standing ovation tells it all for off Broadway,

Don't see it if You don't like two person shows. However This show is fantastic!

Clever, Great acting, Refreshing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You like to epic adventures and wonderful story telling with clever musical backdrop. Very professionally done. Acting and singing was great

Don't see it if You want a typical musical comedy.

Exciting, Original, Innovative, Excellent singing, Excellent musicianship

See it if dreamlike fantasy love-affairs take you away. SO exciting SO smart SO funny. Great set. From the word "GO", show succeeds. PLEASE GO SEE IT!

Don't see it if no intermissions piss you off (ME). Both performers are SUPERB. Excellent use of real/historical pics/videos. 15-20min more would've ROCKED.

Cast & Creatives (10)