BWW Reviews: ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME at GSP is Fantastic
George Street Playhouse (GSP) under the direction of Artistic Director, David Saint has a grand finale to their 2014-2015 season. Ernest Shackleton Loves Me is dazzling audiences on the New Brunswick stage through May 17th. This show blends music, mayhem and multimedia in an absolutely captivating production. Directed by Lisa Peterson, the book is by Joe DiPietro, with original music and lyrics by Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn.
In the show, Kat (Valerie Vigoda) is a Brooklyn hipster, video game music composer and sleep-deprived single mother with an infant son. She is contacted across time by Ernest Shackleton (Wade McCollum), the famous polar explorer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Together, these two take a musical journey to conquer new horizons. Adventure, romance, and optimism are some of the themes that make this show a complete happening.
Vigoda's portrayal of Kat is performance perfection. Kat has been down on her luck and her initial reaction to the appearance of Ernest Shackleton is one of disbelief. Yet, she becomes his spirited partner, completely invested in their escapades.
McCollum not only plays Ernest Shackleton, but also appears as other men in Kat's life including a very amusing Ponce DeLeon and Kat's former ne'er do well boyfriend, Bruce. McCollum nails each role making you think there is more than one man in the show.
The musicianship of Vigoda and McCollum are outstanding. Vigoda is a classically trained musician, an extraordinary singer and plays the electric violin wonderfully. McCollum displays his excellent vocal ability and has a real talent for the banjo. The score is lively and with unforgettable songs like "Stop Rewind Play Record" by Kat and "We're On Our Way" by Ernest Shackleton and Kat.
The show's set design is clever and flexible allowing for the story to move at a rapid pace. And the theatrical effects are remarkable with musical direction by Ryan O'Connell, production design by Alexander V. Nichols, costume design by Chelsea Cook and sound design by Kevin Heard and Robert Witmer. The Associate Director is Jaki Bradley and the Production Stage Manager is Thomas Clewell with casting by McCorkle Casting, Ltd. The show is produced by Matthew Kwatinetz.
Much can be learned from Ernest Shackleton Loves Me. This charming and exciting stage show tells you "never give up and never give in" even in trying times.
Ernest Shackleton Loves Me is now on stage at George Street Playhouse through May 17th. The theatre is located at 9 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901 in the heart of the city's vibrant arts district with convenient nearby parking. For ticketing please call (732) 246-7717 or visit www.georgestreetplayhouse.org.
Photo Credit: Jeff Carpenter