Joe DiPietro, Valerie Vigoda, and Brendan Millburn have written a musical quite literally for the ages. Incorporating performance art, brilliance, creativity, and electronic derring-do, the phantasmagorical “Ernest Shackleton Loves Me,” now at George Street Playhouse, wraps you in love even while it’s carpeting you in F-bombs. And it is and isn’t the kind of love that you think…
Kat (Vigoda) is a composer of contemporary music, who’s having difficulty getting traction with her music—until she decides to compromise a bit and take a gig writing the score for a shoot-’em up space opera video game. She loves the work and the beta testers—300 teenaged boys—love her score–it’s the best part of the game for them, calling them to action. And thus is the beginning of a theme.
Wade McCollum is Everyman—literally. He’s Every Man in Kat’s life. He’s Bruce, the ne’er-do-well musician who’s the Baby Daddy for Zac, Kat’s infant, and he’s out on tour with a Journey cover band—another fun commentary–Bruce can’t even go on his own “journey,” he’s on someone else’s. This one man Spinal Tap is slacker paradise. But McCollum is also the driven Ernest Shackleton. Each character McCollum does springs fully developed from the pages of history. His Ponce literally pounces, even while his Shackleton is restrained–character is as character does. Yet all are risk takers extraordinaire, even though the odds are not always in their favor.
Kat has been awake for 36 hours. Zac is colic-y. She starts to have a fever dream that begins with long-dead Ernest Shackleton, explorer of Antarctica in the last century, answering her online dating ad.
If you love music, this is Laurie Anderson meets Mac Davis–Vigoda and McCollum perform a variety of instruments live and it is performance art as fresh and organic as can be. Vigoda’s Woods electric violins are shaped a bit like the Gibson “Flying V” guitar and lend a futuristic flavor to the proceedings. McCollum’s banjo brings us back to Earth and when they play together, it is truly magic.
There are so many Easter eggs in this show, wee “in” jokes, that I won’t name them. You need the joy of discovery for yourself. You’ll be thinking about aspects of this show for days, even as you hum the tunes that stay with you. Explore the riches of this new musical and let me know whether Kat’s epiphany puts little salty tears in your eyes too.
Reserve your tickets now for “Ernest Shackleton Loves Me”–the newest of new musicals and an explorer in its own right. Visit www.georgestreetplayhouse.org
to order tickets and get tickets today.