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Music Review

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Ernest Shackleton Loves Me
Original Cast Recording


Music: Brendan Milburn
Lyrics: Val Vigoda
Performed by: Val Vigoda and Wade McCollum
Label: Broadway Records
RRP: £12.99
Release Date: 09 February 2018

One thing is for sure. You can never accuse Broadway Records of playing it safe. True, they do release a lot of mainstream vocalist and cast recordings, but every now and again they throw a curve ball, that more often than not hits a home run. So, amongst a batch of new releases I’ve received recently, I was interested to hear the original cast recording of Ernest Shackleton Loves Me.

Ernest Shackleton Loves Me is a wildly inventive musical adventure that tells the story of a sleep-deprived single mom who struggles to balance her family and career as a video game music composer. Late one night, while posting a dating video, she receives an unexpected response from the polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922), one of the most iconic leaders of the 20th century. Shipwrecked and stranded on an iceberg in the Antarctic, Shackleton reaches across space and time to share his heroic journey with her. Against all odds, they discover that their greatest inspiration lies within each other.

Starring GrooveLily’s fierce electro-violinist Val Vigoda (Striking 12), and the charismatic Wade McCollum (Wicked), Ernest Shackleton Loves Me is helmed by Obie Award® winning director Lisa Peterson and written by Tony Award® winner Joe DiPietro (Memphis), with music composed by Brendan Milburn and lyrics by Val Vigoda, featuring production design by Alexander V. Nichols (Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway), costume design by Chelsea Cook, sound design by Tony Award® winner Rob Kaplowitz (Fela!) and music direction and orchestrations by Ryan O’Connell.

I’ve always liked the music of GrooveLilly - Striking 12 and Sleeping Beauty Wakes especially - and this album follows in their tradition of quirky but tuneful, meaningful songs. The CD has a very eclectic feel to it, and after a slow start, gets into its stride with 'We’re On Our Way', a catchy folk tune feel, expertly orchestrated by O’Connell. This seems to be his first major work, and I’m impressed by his skills. Much of the album follows the same folky feel, and given the subject matter, this really adds to the atmosphere. ‘Money And Musicians’ I enjoyed very much and is a great mix of melody and skilful lyric writing.

From the epic-ness of numbers such as ‘Every Hand To The Lifeboats’ and ‘Boat Journey; to the simplicity of ‘Eye Of The Storm’ this album is a very pleasant listen, and, having watched the Broadway HD video stream, captures the essence of the show so well. Even on the recording, I defy anyone not to be moved by ’Toward Elephant Island’. It’s wonderful that Broadway Records are capturing scores like this - we are fortunate to be living in such exciting times.

As always, the quality of the recording, production and packaging are first rate - without doubt equal to anyone else in the business, and in many cases, far superior.


Ian Gude

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