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From Val #6

We are in our final week here in Seattle. The atmosphere in the theatre is full of good will and palpable electricity. Audiences are growing, and our performances are getting better and better; Wade and I are finding more and more little “moments” together, more layers and more depth in our interactions; and I remember again each day how addictive this performance thing really is. There’s simply nothing else like it, and I feel like the luckiest person in the world, getting to share this magical, surreal, totally inspiring story with people every night. 

I’ve become able more and more to manifest and embody what’s going on with Kat - the extreme cold, the questioning of her own sanity (is what she’s experiencing real or merely an extended hallucination?) - and as I dig deeper into it, I’m finding that the reality of physicalizing all of this takes a HELL of a lot of energy. Shivering, for instance: the body’s natural reaction to freezing temperatures is specifically designed to warm you up by the uncontrollable shaking of your muscles - and when the stage is actually quite WARM, and the hot lights are on, and you’re running around wearing a parka and shivering like mad - well, it’s a great workout, it seems. Combined with the hyperventilating and output of excess nervous energy released by being convinced that you are completely insane and you can’t trust your own senses or instincts (added on top of my normal everyday regimen of playing and singing), the exertion is enormous.

I know this because: I’m eating like a MAD FOOL! Tons of food. I crave MEAT and eat it before nearly every show…and yet, after the final curtain I am absolutely energized and exhilarated.

My whole schedule is topsy-turvy (usually, at home with husband and kid, I’m up before dawn and asleep before 9 PM) - and now, I’m up for at least 3-4 hours AFTER the show, insatiable carnivore that I am.

I know there is a bittersweet sadness coming in a few days when we close here, the stage returns to its bare former self and we all disperse to our various homes…but I also know it is temporary, because the future of this show is looking so bright now that we’ve launched it into the world. My job now is to savor every moment we have here, stay centered, and eat some prime rib from Met Market. 

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Get your tickets before this show is gone! bit.ly/1qM62AP

Get your tickets before this show is gone! bit.ly/1qM62AP

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Another Ernest Shackleton Love Letter

Another outstanding review came out from the people at SeattleActor.com. Our favorite was this shout out to creator and performer Valerie Vigoda:

“…a fine premise for us to realize her incredible musical talent, her ability to fly through space and time on her melodic invention, and her commitment to exploring creativity in all its danger and excitement.”

Read the rest of the love letter here

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From Val #5

We’re getting into a groove here at SHACKLETON HQ. I’ve figured out the best pain-free method of dealing with the tattoos (leave them on LONGER! and then they disintegrate with rubbing alcohol pretty easily after about 3 days); I still run my eyes over the script each day before the show, but it is starting to feel part of my muscle memory now and not so much a series of words and actions and emotions I have to strain to remember.

Wade and I, along with our assistant stage manager Laurel, have a fun new pre-show ritual: there’s a TED talk that inspired us. 

It’s all about how “alpha posturing” (meaning putting your body into very expansive, open positions, such as standing like Wonder Woman and taking up lots of physical space) can produce chemical and physiological changes in your body, making you more confident and bold and able to, for example, be your best self in a job interview after alpha posturing for only two minutes. So when we hear the “places” call, we troop into the darkened backstage area, check our in-ear monitors with Ryan, and then stand tall and proud like Wonder Woman, feeling the confidence suffuse our bodies during the final minutes before we begin the show. 

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…a 90-minute voyage that’s visually impressive, sonically inventive and whimsically diverting.
Thanks Seattle Times! 

Read the full article here: 
http://bit.ly/1pokz8B

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Give us your review!

Half of the fun of mounting a world premiere show is hearing what our audience things about the show. We’d love to get you feedback. What were your favorite songs/scenes/moments? You can head over to our Facebook Page or Follow us on Twitter and give us your review of the show! 

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In the mean time, here’s a review that we’re so excited to share from Rich Cook:

“Frankly I am awed that anyone with a semblance of sanity would take on such a daunting task as to tame this dragon of many tails.  And so it was without any expectation that I attended last night’s premiere of ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME. 

I found the show to produce a panoply of emotions, from surprising laughter to musical foot tapping, to spiritual stirrings.  It is an audacious creation.  Your cast is jaw dropping talented.  The music, lyrics, stunning and in step with theatrical expectation (it will score an animated adaptation well.)  Valerie and Wade… I dunno how to say it better: both are joyous!

Clearly the Seattle audience had a great time!  They are a lively exuberant bunch and it made the show especially delightful.  Kudos to your excellent staffs (NY & Seattle) Dannie F, and entire creative team.  I will book tickets for the Broadway opening soon as you announce!”

Thanks for the kind words, Rich! 

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Happy Opening Night!

Congratulations to everyone that’s been involved with making this show come to life over the past few months! Tonight is Opening Night and we couldn’t be more excited. 

As much as we do this show because we think it’s funny, honest, and really something unique, we also do it because we love to make good theatre. And there’s no better testament to that effort than the sweet email we got from Brian Grant. Here’s a snippet:

“I usually pay for my theater and go to lots of arts performances and am on several boards. So I am at times a bit jaded, indifferent or even hostile to some of the work I have had to sit through over the years.

Tonight was the opposite. I was enthralled by the premise, the staging, the music and most assuredly the massive talent of Valerie and Wade. I found myself feeling the excitement of seeing a hit before others have had the privilege.

You have created something lyrical and beautiful, with the highest production standards. Thank you to all who have made this happen. I will talk it up and hope you fill your houses in the coming run and that the show goes on to wonderful success in future locales.”

It doesn’t get much better than that. Thanks for coming to see our show, Brian! Your kind words mean the world to us. 

Don’t miss your chance to catch this show before it’s gone! It plays at Seattle Rep till May 3rd, 2014. Tickets can be purchased here: bit.ly/1qM62AP

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From Val #4

Tonight is our third preview performance! So far so good: the audiences have been loving the show, and we are working out technical issues and making rewrites. This is the whole purpose of previews, and we are taking full advantage.

(photo by Jeff Carpenter photography)
Our book writer Joe can’t be with us until our opening on Friday – he had a prior commitment to be in La Jolla – so we’ve been rewriting using the following system: 1 - our director Lisa (usually along with others on the team) notices a problem area and tells me and Brendan about it after the show. 2 - we talk to Joe early the next day, and if it’s dialogue we send him our bad version of a rewrite. 3 - Joe fixes it and emails it to us. 4 - we slam the changes in, with full tech, in the afternoon and try them out that night. (Just to give a little perspective – SPIDERMAN: TURN OFF THE DARK had 182 previews. We have 5.)
So Wade and I are in hyper-alert memorization overdrive mode. During the afternoon rehearsals, time is very limited and we have to get through Lisa’s work list, so we don’t get to practice the rewrites very repetitively. Often we’ve only done something brand new ONCE before performing it. It’s stressful, but in an exciting way because we know we’re improving and tightening the show with every one of these changes.

My blue and purple hair is significantly faded after only two washings! (No wonder more people don’t have hair like this; it is VERY high-maintenance.) The skin on my neck and chest is a little irritated from the temporary tattoos, and from the neck tape that keeps my mics and ear monitor in place. On my dressing room table is an array of: baby oil, cold cream, rubbing alcohol, hair spray, witch hazel, baby wipes, makeup remover, loofahs and washcloths as we figure out the best way to deal with the tattoo removal and skin issue. So far rubbing alcohol is the winner (though it’s kind of a Pyrrhic victory), and we may have to change out the tats nearly every day. 

I look down at my left hand, and am surprised every time to see no wedding ring; I’ve taken it off for the show, since my character Kat is unmarried, and it’s hard to take it on and off so it’s just off for the whole SHACKLETON run. Between that and my hair and the tattoos, I’m presenting a different self to the world than I’m used to…and getting quite a bit of flirty attention from strangers. 
Despite that I remain steadfastly devoted to my husband Brendan (who incidentally wrote the music to this show, in case you didn’t know). Of anyone here, he is perhaps channeling Shackleton the most. He rushes from grocery shopping, making meals, homeschooling our son (temporarily while we’re in Seattle), to troubleshooting the malfunctioning harmony box which I use on stage…and doing it all with a buoyant, Shackletonian grin. 

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From Val #3

I am on a plane to Ohio, having left SHACKLETON tech rehearsals for one day to play a longstanding solo concert. We have had an incredible week of pickup rehearsals, costume fittings, sound setup, filming, spacing rehearsal and two long, amazing days of tech so far.

The show is thrilling - the live filmed sections of Ernest on the ship, the sometimes gorgeous/sometimes whimsical projected images throughout, the myriad dazzling sound effects, the enveloping orchestrations…all these elements are coming together to make something incredibly special, and the excitement in the theatre from the whole team is palpable.


A super personally exciting element of this project for me is my physical transformation into Kat: in addition to my Antarctic hair, I am now sporting a large number of (temporary) tattoos. Walking through the world like this is a totally new and bold experience - I love seeing people’s judgments of me written on their faces. Most people are lovely - I have NEVER been talked to this much in airports! - and almost everyone has something nice to say about my blue/purple hair…but at least one person has said she was surprised when she spoke to me that I “sounded educated.” 
I am finding this look very fun and freeing…and I may keep it even after the production. The blue does match my eyes.

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Technical Rehearsal, Day Two.

A hoe down in a snow storm? Only in Ernest Shackleton Loves Me!

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Filming the Shackleton - Ponce Duel!

For a theatre show, we sure have a large video crew! Yesterday, we did our first take of the duel between Shackleton and Ponce de Leon, both played by our own Wade. How can they appear in the same video together?

The wonders of our Production Designer Alex Nichols, his Associate Designer (and Balagan Technical Director) Ahren Buhmann (pictured with pony tail behind camera).

And green screen of course! Pictured above are Chelsea (costume designer, see her post below) and Wade as Shackleton.

And now Wade as Ponce!

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