Frank Hurley, 1915 >> Valerie Vagoda, 2015 and Shackleton



Valerie Vagoda as Kat kissing Ernie Shackleton who she met on the internet

Valerie Vagoda as Kat kissing Ernie Shackleton who she met on the internet

Or: Oh! There’s Frozen Chicken in the Freezer, Excellent!!
I met Valerie Vagoda when “Striking 12” was at Theatreworks and “Passing Strange” was more current; PS actually might have workshopped at Theatreworks if Public Theatre of New York had fallen thru, I wrote to Kent Nicholson at the time. Anyhow, water under the bridge, we are talking 2004 or so. This is 2015, May even, not “May Day” but “May Five!”

Valerie and Brandon Milburn her Groovelilly colleague are onto their fifth or so music-and-story piece, this one about the centennial of Ernest Shackleton expedition to Antarctica. My entry into such, oddly, is via Michael Kimmelman “Accidental Masterpiece” which has a chapter on the photographer Frank Hurley, who was on Shackleton and a previous misadventure, of Douglas Mawson.

Valerie sends word today that her play, in New Brunswick,New Jersey’s George Street Playhouse got a review in The New York Times.

But I am also just getting back from Terry and my adventure to Seattle and back, 1,700 or so miles in her SUV and the fact that we met with former Palo Altan the skipper of Endurance, a salmon-fishing vessel. I’m gonna run a shot of John in his brig. John Liddicoat, the former Gunn football player. I actually asked John in passing if he had read about Shackleton and he said “for sure”. Or some such.

Here is Skipper John Liddicoat of F/V Endurance out of Seattle but trolls the coast of Alaska for its yearly take of 800,000 lbs of salmon, perhaps a strange seque from Valerie Vigoda kissing Shackleton, but kudos for adding some maritime lore, If i must say so myself

Here is Skipper John Liddicoat of F/V Endurance out of Seattle but trolls the coast of Alaska for its yearly take of 800,000 lbs of salmon, perhaps a strange seque from Valerie Vigoda kissing Shackleton, but kudos for adding some maritime lore, If i must say so myself

outro is a video from the show. I can also re-blog from VV’s WP.

Break a leg, but don’t let it get to the point where your foot starts to dissolve into bits of black jerkey (I get that in bad dreams some times).

From the review of “Ernest Shackleton Loves Me”:
The fictional story, however, begins in a freezing-cold apartment in Brooklyn in the present day. Kat, a broke and despairing young indie composer, has just been fired from a lucrative job writing the music for a futuristic video game.

A stressed-out single mom with a 5-month-old son whose deadbeat dad is touring with a Journey cover band, Kat makes her first foray into online dating. The forlorn musician does this through a song, of course, accompanying herself on a synthesized keyboard.

Almost instantly, Kat receives a call from Shackleton, the celebrated British polar explorer of the early 1900s, who claims to be entranced by her time-and-space-crossing music. Since she has not slept for the last 36 hours, Kat suspects that she may be hallucinating.

Shackleton, who was an actual British polar explorer of the early 1900s, responds to Kat’s online dating profile, and then arrives in Brooklyn via her refrigerator. Credit Jeff Carpenter
But then she Skypes Shackleton and finds the jaunty explorer smiling at her from aboard the deck of Endurance as it sails toward Antarctica in 1914.

The audience sees it all, too, since the rear of Kat’s apartment is dominated by a large video screen.

Picking up her electric violin, Kat joins Shackleton in a series of chantey-like songs that narrate the first part of the explorer’s incredible voyage as the “Endurance” becomes stranded upon the polar ice and subsequently crushed and sunk by it. Actual photographs and vintage film footage show the wreck.

As Kat mourns the hopelessness of the situation, the refrigerator door suddenly opens and Shackleton, glistening with frost and toting a banjo, strides into her world.

“This is crazy!” cries Kat.

edit to add: my take on Valerie is that as she is also a former military and therefore puts on new twist, with her Shackleton adventure to the term “Cold Warrior”.

andand: if I were a better writer or blogger I might somehow weave Valerie Vigoda “Ernest Shackleton Loves Me” with an account of my recent journey to Seattle and back, and comparing the production to both the music of Bleach Bear (girl-band comprised of high school classmates of daughter of Skipper Liddicoat of F/V Endurance) and film about fly fisherman slash war hero Frank Moore, who saw a salmon hanging outside a hut in Normandy and then returned 70 years later to land his own catch.

maybe its the cold medicine but I had to re-edit this to include this link to The New Yorker Review of the Coen Brothers film, where the guy asks if it is a Maritime joke when his position is denied because his license is not “current” — it is backed with “Frozen”, another take on VV’s fav, HCA. I guess the Occams Razor would be: “Dear Val, how about ‘Grovelilly Covers The Music of ‘Frozen’ “??
Val and Ernie’s Excellent Adventure

Valerie writes back:

Speaking of other actors in the show…
…we have some exciting news. While it’s only a 2-person show, for the first time in my life I actually have *an understudy*—and she’s going on for me May 14-17.
There are two reasons for this: 1) I’ve had the wedding of one of my closest friends on the books for a long while and I simply couldn’t miss it, and 2) it’s important to make sure the show has a life beyond my availability to do it. We’ve found a remarkable woman to play Kat in my stead: the luminous Broadway veteran Angel Desai.
Aside from her remarkable skills as a singer/violinist/actor, her name Angel reminds me of something Shackleton wrote in his book “South.” In the midst of his greatest hardship, he truly believed he was helped along to safety by an angel: “During that long and racking [final] march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia, it seemed to me often that we were four, not three.”

valerie vigoda and understudy angel

valerie vigoda and understudy angel

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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