Photos: Go Inside Opening Night Of Porchlight Music Theatre's ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME

The production runs through June 1 only.

By: May. 12, 2023
Get Access To Every Broadway Story

Unlock access to every one of the hundreds of articles published daily on BroadwayWorld by logging in with one click.

Existing user? Just click login.

Porchlight Music Theatre is presenting the Chicago premiere of the critically acclaimed musical comedy Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, music by Brendan Milburn, lyrics by Val Vigoda, orchestrations and additional music by Ryan O'Connell and book by Joe DiPietro, at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., now playing in a limited run through June 1 only.

Check out opening night photos below!

Porchlight's production is directed by Michael Unger and music directed by Eric Svejcar. The performance schedule is Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3:30 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Post-Show Discussions are scheduled Friday, May 19 at 8 p.m. and Wednesday, May 31 at 7:30 p.m. and an open caption performance Saturday, May 27 at 3:30 p.m. Tickets for Ernest Shackleton Loves Me are now on sale starting at $25 and may be purchased through the Box Office by calling 773.777.9884 or by visiting

Ernest Shackleton Loves Me is the critically acclaimed new Off-Broadway musical comedy with a tongue-in-cheek script by Tony Award-winner Joe DiPietro+ (Diana, Memphis, All Shook Up) that received the Off-Broadway Alliance Award as BEST MUSICAL and was filmed and presented on Broadway HD. In this wildly inventive and romantic adventure, a sleep-deprived single mom (Elisa Carlson*) who makes her living as a video game music composer is contacted across space and time, via a crossed connection on her cell phone, by the famous early 20th century polar explorer Ernest Shackleton (Andrew Mueller+) while he is stranded on an iceberg in the Antarctic in the early 1900s. Inspired by her music, he shares his epic journey with her and, together, they overcome the odds in a timeless, and very funny, musical romance for the ages.


Michael Unger is thrilled to make his Porchlight Music Theatre debut with this show. A Chicago native, Unger is a theatre and opera director who is currently the artistic director of Milwaukee's Skylight Music Theatre where he has directed Dennis DeYoung's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Noises Off and Little Shop of Horrors. Previously, he was the associate artistic director and director of education of Off-Broadway's York Theatre Company. For nine years he was the producing artistic director of NewArts in Newtown, CT, a company promoting healing through the arts that he started with a local dad in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. Unger has also directed benefit concerts honoring Susan Stroman, André DeShields, Maltby and Shire, Leslie Uggams, as well as for the communities of Sandy Hook, CT and Parkland, FL. He is married to actress Janet Metz and his favorite productions are their twins, Phoebe and Nathaniel.

ABOUT ERIC SVEJCAR, music director

Eric Svejcar makes his Porchlight debut with Ernest Shackleton Loves Me. He is a composer and music director based in New York City. Works include Caligula, An Ancient Glam Epic (NYMF Audience Award winner), A Rockin' Midsummer Night's Dream (featured in the documentary "Midsummer In Newtown"), The Murder of Isaac, White Noise and the musical podcast "Loveville High" with David Zellnik. He adapted and arranged Disney's Peter Pan Jr. which has been performed by thousands of schools around the world. On Broadway, he conducted the Roundabout/Deaf West revival of Big River and played in the pits of The Little Mermaid and A Chorus Line (City Center). Off-Broadway he arranged and performed in the Zipper Theatre revival of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris, orchestrated Evil Dead, The Musical and music directed several productions at the York Theatre including Marry Harry and the Musicals In Mufti presentations of Big, Berlin To Broadway With Kurt Weill, and Jerry's Girls. He was a solo pianist with Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and played piano and sang backup for Debbie Gibson at Harrah's in Atlantic City. Originally from Chicago, he has done shows at Bailiwick, Northlight, The New Colony and many others and was the front room pianist/singer at Davenport's Piano Bar and the late Gentry on Halsted. Svejcar is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Music.


Elisa Carlson is a 20-year veteran in the solo and dueling piano bar industry, singing and playing piano, violin, drums and bass all across the United States, internationally and on cruise ships. Carlson makes her Porchlight Mainstage debut with Ernest Shackleton Loves Me and previously appeared in Chicago Sings Rock & Roll Broadway. A graduate of Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, she enjoys bringing her skills to Chicago theater stages as well. Chicago credits include: Once (Writers Theatre and Paramount Theatre), Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (American Blues Theater), Peter and the Starcatcher (Metropolis Performing Arts Center), One Man, Two Guvnors (Court Theatre), Pop Waits (Neo-Futurists) and American Idiot (The Hypocrites). Carlson is also a choreographer for young performers and will be choreographing Matilda Jr. with GingerSnap Performing Arts this summer.

ABOUT ANDREW MUELLER, "Ernest Shackleton"

Andrew Mueller is embarking upon his Porchlight Mainstage debut (after having done various concerts, benefits, readings, etc.) Notable Chicago productions include: "Peter" in Jesus Christ Superstar (Lyric Opera), "Mark" in RENT (Paramount), Man of La Mancha (Marriott Lincolnshire), Shakespeare In Love (Chicago Shakespeare), Almost Heaven: John Denver's America (Theatre At The Center), A Christmas Carol (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Wonderland: Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure (Chicago Children's Theater). Jeff Award for "Huck Finn" in Big River (BoHo Theatre Ensemble). Off-Broadway: "Prentiss" in Peter And The Starcatcher (New World Stages), Alice By Heart (MCC). Regional: My Paris (Long Wharf), Some Lovers (Old Globe & Adirondack Theatre Festival), Baskerville (Cardinal Stage). He also performs with his band, The Red Roses, in and around Chicago.


Porchlight Music Theatre is the award-winning center for music theatre in Chicago. Through live performance, youth education and community outreach, we impact thousands of lives each season, bringing the magic of musicals to our theatre home at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts in the Gold Coast and to neighborhoods across the city. Porchlight has built a national reputation for boldly reimagining classic musicals, supporting new works and young performers, and showcasing Chicago's most notable music theatre artists, all through the intimate and powerful theatrical lens of the "Chicago Style."

Porchlight's history, over the last 27 years, includes more than 70 mainstage works with 15 Chicago premieres and five world premieres. Porchlight's commitment to the past, present and future of music theatre led the company to develop the Porchlight Revisits and New Faces Sing Broadway program series, both quickly becoming audience favorites.

Porchlight's education and outreach programs serve schools, youth of all ages and skill levels and community organizations, most notably the ongoing collaboration with Chicago Youth Centers. Porchlight annually awards dozens of full scholarships and hundreds of free tickets to ensure accessibility and real engagement with this uniquely American art form.

The company's many honors include 184 Joseph Jefferson Award (Jeff) nominations and 45 Jeff awards, as well as 44 Black Theatre Alliance (BTA) nominations and 12 BTA awards. In 2019, Porchlight graduated to the Large Theatre tier of the Equity Jeff Awards, and was honored with eight nominations in both technical and artistic categories and won three awards in its inaugural year in this tier, most notably Best Ensemble for Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies.

Through the global pandemic, Porchlight emerged as one of Chicago's leaders in virtual programming, quickly launching a host of free offerings like Sondheim @ 90 Roundtables, Movie Musical Mondays, Porchlight by Request: Command Performances and WPMT: Classic Musicals from the Golden Age of Radio. Porchlight launched its annual summer series in 2021, Broadway in your Backyard, performing at parks and venues throughout the city.


Porchlight Music Theatre is proud to be a member of the vibrant Ruth Page Center for the Arts community and an In-Residence Organization. Central to the Ruth Page Center for the Arts' programming is this program, which is designed to serve organizations looking for a home base while they grow or expand their artistic and organizational capabilities. The Center is committed to nurturing and assisting dance and other performing artists, allowing for exchange and collaborative relationships to develop within the artistic community. The Ruth Page Center for the Arts is a destination for quality performing arts, accessible to a wide community regardless of race, gender, age, education or disability. An incubator of artistic energy and excellence, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts carries forward the vision of its founder, legendary dance icon Ruth Page, to be a platform for developing great artists and connecting them with audiences and community.

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night Of Porchlight Music Theatre's ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME
Andrew Mueller and Elisa Carlson

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night Of Porchlight Music Theatre's ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME
Rita Vreeland and Andrea Enger

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night Of Porchlight Music Theatre's ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME
Eric Svejcar, Michael Unger and Michael Weber

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night Of Porchlight Music Theatre's ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME
Jack Zanger, Lynsy Folckomer and Karlika Claybourne

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night Of Porchlight Music Theatre's ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME
Lynsy Folckomer, Heather Gervasi, Frankie Leo Bennett and Majel Cuza

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night Of Porchlight Music Theatre's ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME
Cameron Tragesser, Matt Miles, Andrew Mueller, Michael Unger, Elisa Carlson, and Rae Robeson

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night Of Porchlight Music Theatre's ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME
Tina Stasny, John McTaggart, Jonathan Berg-Einhorn, Rachel West, Matthew R. Chase, and Smooch Medina