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Theatre Review: Hi-Tech Multimedia Musical Closes Out Season at George Street Playhouse

Innovative Ernest Shackleton Loves Me Opens to Ovation at George Street Playhouse
Ernest Shackleton Loves Me
Wade McCullum as Ernest and Valerie Vigoda as Kat George Street Playhouse

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ--This reviewer would be lying if he didn’t admit that when Kat, played by Valerie Vigoda, first entered the snow filled stage, he wasn’t’ sure what to expect

But not long after that moment, he realized he was in for a triumphant night of innovative musical theater.

Musicals tend to be larger than life spectacles with big ensemble casts, choruses, choreographed movements, and elaborate sets.

Alex Nichols’ well-constructed and appropriate set aside, Ernest Shackleton Loves Me has none of these and didn’t need them.

Relying on multimedia, technology and two excellent performers, the George Street Playhouse delivered a fresh, focused, and very funny absurdist musical comedy.

Composer Kat, a single mother is alone in her down at heel Brooklyn apartment after being fired from her only paying gig.

Filled with the type of doubts about her work, her mission, and her ability that affect all writers and artists, Kat puts her profile on an internet dating site and gets a surprise response.

A classically-trained and accomplished violinist, Vigoda was one of the collaborating composers and lyrists, and she delivered a charming, poignant, and at times riotous Kat through her wonderful voice.

Enter Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, brilliantly played by Wade McCullum.  McCullum’s comic timing and facial nuances on the stage’s massive media screen brought this musical to a higher comedic level.

One of the best components of this stage work was the actors, who seemed to be having a great time that was reflected in their performances.

Lisa Peterson’s excellent direction made sure the play’s themes of determination, inspiration, and, most importantly, endurance, was never far from the audience’s mind.

This inventive, high-tech, and intimate musical runs through May 17.  Ticketing information is available at georgestreetplayhouse.org.