A wildly inventive, high-tech, cross-time musical love story not to be missed


ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME is the critically acclaimed fever dream/musical starring GrooveLily's fierce and funny electro-violinist Valerie Vigoda and the gorgeous and hypnotic Wade McCollum (PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT) with a tongue-in-cheek script by Tony award winner Joe DiPietro (MEMPHIS). In this geeky, high-tech adventure, a sleep-deprived single mom and video game music composer 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. Together, they struggle toward and conquer new horizons in this cross-time love affair for the ages. 

Production History

Co-commissioned by TheatreWorks (Silicon Valley) and La Jolla Playhouse, ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME was first developed at the TheatreWorks New Works Festival in August 2009 with director Kent Nicholson. In October of that same year, Ted Sperling (STRIKING 12) invited the team to present excerpts of SHACKLETON at Joe’s Pub as part of The Public Theatre’s Musical Theatre Initiative program. Val, Brendan and Joe then teamed up with director Leigh Silverman and Artistic Director Chris Ashley for further development at La Jolla Playhouse in June 2010. Matthew Kwatinetz optioned SHACKLETON in 2011 and subsequently brought on Director Lisa Peterson. After several NY workshops (including one during Super-storm Sandy), SHACKLETON had a developmental workshop at Seattle’s ACT Theatre in February 2014 and opened out of town in Seattle in a Balagan Theatre production at the Seattle Repertory Theatre on April 18, 2014. SHACKLETON was produced at the George Street Playhouse in New Jersery in April 2015 and at the Paramount at Arts Emerson in Boston in October 2015.

Creative Team

Valerie Vigoda (actor & lyrics) Originally from McLean, VA, Valerie is a classically-trained musician, honors graduate of Princeton University, and former Army lieutenant. She has toured the world with Cyndi Lauper (opening for Tina Turner and Cher), Joe Jackson and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. She founded GrooveLily (originally “The Valerie Vigoda Band”) in 1994, with the critically-acclaimed CD “Inhabit My Heart.” Dirty Linen Magazine wrote: “to call Valerie Vigoda talented barely seems to do her justice. She has a great voice, is an intelligent lyricist … and an ace violinist. Methinks we’ll hear more of her.” Along with her husband and longtime collaborator Brendan Milburn, Valerie is a 2009 winner of the ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, as well as a two-time winner of the Jonathan Larson Award for Excellence in Writing for the Theatre. 

Wade McCollum (actor) Wade has most recently starred in the first national tour of Broadway's PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT as Tick/Mitzi. Before Priscilla Wade was seen as the Velociptor of Faith in the off-Broadway musical TRIASSIC PARQ, Norm Waxman in JERSEY BOYS, Prior in ANGELS IN AMERICA, Dracula in Steven Dietz's DRACULA, Puck in 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, 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. Wade can currently be seen on season two of the popular BroadwayWorld Web-series SUBMISSIONS ONLY!! 2009 winner of the ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, as well as a two-time winner of the Jonathan Larson Award for Excellence in Writing for the Theatre. 

Joe DiPietro (book writer) is a Broadway veteran currently represented in NY by NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT and MEMPHIS. Mr. DiPietro was nominated for a 2012 Tony for NICE WORK and won Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Score for MEMPHIS, which was also awarded the 2010 Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical. His other shows include ALL SHOOK UP; I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE (the longest running musical revue in Off-Broadway history); THE TOXIC AVENGER and THE THING ABOUT MEN (both winners of the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway musical). His plays include the much-produced comedy OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS, THE ART OF MURDER (Edgar Award winner for Best Mystery Play), CREATING CLAIRE and THE LAST ROMANCE. 

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 SkirballKenis, NY Stage and Film, Royal Court London.

Brendan Milburn (composer) graduated from Pomona College and NYU’s MFA program in Musical Theatre Writing. He does a lot of arranging for GrooveLily, and he’s an accomplished record producer as well. He often yearns for his native San Francisco. Seth Rogovoy wrote: “Milburn was a deft pianist, his nimble fingerwork doing double-duty as the band’s bassist and provider of its harmonic foundation, delivered with the jazzy sophistication of Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen and the rock and roll theatrics of Billy Joel.” Brendan’s music and/or lyrics have been/will be featured in a growing number of off/on-Broadway shows, and he’s always on the lookout for new projects/productions which will add more slashes (“/”) to his bio/credits.

Ryan O’Connell (music director) is in demand as a composer, arranger, music director, and conductor. His music has been heard worldwide in a variety of venues: in film, on stage, and in the concert hall. He is perhaps most widely known for his popular choral arrangements for Shawnee Press, where his pieces have been selected Editor's Choice by J.W. Pepper and continually remain top-sellers around the country. Ryan’s true passion lies in composing and conducting music for film and television. He currently lives in Los Angeles, pursuing a career in film scoring. He is a proud graduate of the prestigious Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program at the University of Southern California. 

Alexander V. Nichols (production designer) 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.