Mom Theatre Blogger: Ernest Shackleton Loves Me: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman

To say that she is a multi-tasker seems an understatement when we meet Kat, the heroine in the new endearing, yet ultimately wearisome, Off Broadway musical at the Tony Kiser Theatre.

As any mom knows — we wear many hats and sometimes our insecurities on our sleeve — and the engaging, industrious Kat earns both our respect and admiration as an eclectic 40 something single mom of an infant.  She is struggling to find love just as her career takes a setback when she gets fired from her gig composing music for a video game company. Her baby daddy is touring as part of a Journey cover band, and she is giving her dating quest a go on the website CupidsLeftovers.

Kat desperately yearns for support, romance and a dose of escapism. She finds all when she connects, via the site, with Ernest Shackleton, a real life explorer widely known as one of the most inspirational leaders of the twentieth century.  His dream was to be the first to reach the South Pole, and while that did not come to fruition for him and his dedicated crew, he cultivated a reputation as a strong, courageous leader and optimist….all desirable qualities in a mate. Things heat up amidst the icebergs for a smitten Ernest and Kat, as they reenact part of his expedition, and he reignites her faith in love and humanity.

GrooveLily’s Valerie Vigoda (who also wrote the lyrics) turns in an inspired, heartfelt performance and impressively plays the electric violin strapped to her neck.

The strapping, likeable Wade McCollum plays the boyfriend and the banjo-playing Shackelton and nails both roles.  As Shackelton, he has a bit of a lilt in his voice, particularly the pronunciation of his name, which gets some chuckles but later loses its humor.

Smartly staged by Director Lisa Peterson, images are projected on a large screen, largely featuring Shackelton’s explorations, which lend a dose of drama and realism.  Peterson makes the most of the minimalist set, including having Shackelton enter/exit through Kat’s refrigerator and the actors climbing about as they go exploring.

Music is by Brendan Milburn, production design by Alexander V. Nichols, costume design by Chelsea Cook and sound and original compositions by Rob Kaplowitz.

Written by Joe DiPietro, there are amusing moments, but the musical, which runs through June 11, ultimately grows thin and frigid.