When you’re at your wit’s end, and not sure if you can fight on another day, you need to find optimism to trod through. That’s the message of Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, a delightful 90-minute musical.
Val Vigoda stars as Kat, a modern0day musician living in Brooklyn with a newborn baby and not much else going on for her professionally. After a particularly excruciating day, Val begins to hallucinate — or does she? — picturing a dream man from another time and place who has come to lift her spirits and to help her find her way home.
While it’s hard to get your head around this inventive story, the music (Brendan Milburn), lyrics (Vigoda) and book (Joe DePietro) more than make up for the leap you must take to buy in. And director Lisa Peterson pulls all of the pieces together nicely, giving off the impression that if you bypass all of the questions you may have about the framework of the play, and let your imagination run wild, there’s a lot here to see.
Wade McCollum rises to the occasion as Shackleton, there to allay Kat’s fears and to give her the confidence to know she can make it on her own. He pairs well with Vigoda, who leans on her impression electric violin skills to express herself and the frustrations and setbacks that Kat has endured.
Everything works itself out through music and imagination, even if you leave still feeling a bit unsure which era the story takes place in, how it all came to be, and whether any of it ever truly happened. Your enjoyment depends entirely on your willingness to overlook some concerns and to focus on making sure that Kat finds her way.