Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Chicago Premiere of ERNEST SHACKLETON LOVES ME Via Porchlight Music Theatre Now Playing Through June 1, 2023

 ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar: Adult Night Out





Here at ChiIL Mama, we've adored Porchlight Music Theatre and their stellar musicals for years. We're so excited to catch their latest,  Ernest Shackleton Loves Me. In addition to featuring family friendly productions, we also cover adult shows that deal with family dynamics, in our Adult Night Out Series.   Ernest Shackleton Loves Me is a great fit with the theme of a sleep-deprived single mom (Elisa Carlson*) who makes her living as a video game music composer connecting across space and time, with the famous early 20th century polar explorer Ernest Shackleton (Andrew Mueller+) while he is stranded on an iceberg in the Antarctic in the early 1900s. It's so much fun to catch a new musical we've never seen before. 

Porchlight Music Theatre, in association with Skylight Music Theatre, presents the Chicago premiere of the critically acclaimed musical comedy Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, music by Brendan Milburn, lyrics by Val Vigoda, orchestrations and additional music by Ryan O’Connell and book by Joe DiPietro, at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., now playing through June 1. Porchlight’s production is directed by Michael Unger and music directed by Eric Svejcar. 

The performance schedule is Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3:30 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Post-Show Discussions are scheduled Friday, May 19 at 8 p.m. and Wednesday, May 31 at 7:30 p.m. and open caption performances Saturday, May 20 and Saturday, May 27 at 3:30 p.m. Tickets for Ernest Shackleton Loves Me are now on sale starting at $25 and may be purchased through the Box Office by calling 773.777.9884 or by visiting PorchlightMusicTheatre.org.

Ernest Shackleton Loves Me is the critically acclaimed new musical comedy with a tongue-in-cheek script by Tony Award-winner Joe DiPietro+ (Diana, Memphis, All Shook Up) that received the Off-Broadway Alliance Award as BEST MUSICAL and was filmed and presented on Broadway HD. In this wildly inventive and romantic adventure, a sleep-deprived single mom (Elisa Carlson*) who makes her living as a video game music composer is contacted across space and time, via a crossed connection on her cell phone, by the famous early 20th century polar explorer Ernest Shackleton (Andrew Mueller+) while he is stranded on an iceberg in the Antarctic in the early 1900s. Inspired by her music, he shares his epic journey with her and, together, they overcome the odds in a timeless, and very funny, musical romance for the ages.

The company for Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, in alphabetical order, includes Elisa Carlson* (Kat); Andrew Mueller+ (Ernest Shackleton) with Rae Robeson* (Kat Standby) and Matt Miles+ (Ernest Shackleton Standby).

The Ernest Shackleton Loves Me creative team includes music by Brendan Milburn+ (music); Val Vigoda* (lyrics);  Ryan O’Connell+ (orchestrations and additional music);  Joe DiPietro+ (book), Michael Unger+ (director); Eric Svejcar+ (music director); Cameron Tragesser+ (conductor/keyboard); Scott Davis+ (scenic designer); Jonathan Berg-Einhorn+ (associates scenic designer); Gregory Graham+ (costume designer); G. Max Maxin IV+ (lighting designer); Matthew R. Chase+ (sound designer); Smooch Medina+ (projection designer); Rita Vreeland* (production stage manager); Andrea Enger= (assistant stage manager); John McTaggart+ (scenic supervisor); Wendy Ann* (scenic charge); Tina Stasny* (costume supervisor); Rachel West* (lighting supervisor); Samantha Anderson* (assistant lighting supervisor); Lynsy Folckomer* (audio engineer); Nick Dunk+ (audio supervisor); Matt Reich+ (audio supervisor); Jack Zanger+ (wardrobe supervisor);  Karlika Claybourne* (hair & make-up supervisor); Danny Carraher+ (master carpenter), Heather Gervasi* (assistant production manager/properties designer); 

Michael Weber+ (artistic director); Majel Cuza* (production manager); Heather Gervasi* (assistant production manager) and Frankie Leo Bennett+ (producing artistic associate).


Michael Unger makes his Porchlight Music Theatre debut as director of Ernest Shackleton Loves Me. A Chicago native, Unger is a theatre and opera director who has directed on stages both nationally and internationally. He is the artistic director of Milwaukee’s Skylight Music Theatre and has been the associate artistic director and director of education at Off-Broadway’s The York Theatre Company in New York City. He is also the producing artistic director of NewArts which utilizes the performing arts as a vehicle to heal and promote creativity, collaboration, and confidence for the children in Newtown, Connecticut. Unger has taught acting classes in New York City and has guest directed at many colleges and universities, including Juilliard, AMDA, AADA, University of Utah, Ohio Northern University, The Asolo Conservatory and his alma mater, Ithaca College. He is married to actress Janet Metz and his favorite productions are their twins, Phoebe and Nathaniel.

ABOUT ERIC SVEJCAR+, music director

Eric Svejcar makes his Porchlight debut with Ernest Shackleton Loves Me. He is a composer and music director based in New York City. Works include Caligula, An Ancient Glam Epic (NYMF Audience Award winner), A Rockin' Midsummer Night's Dream (featured in the documentary “Midsummer In Newtown”), The Murder of Isaac, White Noise and the musical podcast “Loveville High” with David Zellnik. He adapted and arranged Disney's Peter Pan Jr. which has been performed by thousands of schools around the world. On Broadway, he conducted the Roundabout/Deaf West revival of Big River and played in the pits of The Little Mermaid and A Chorus Line (City Center). Off-Broadway he arranged and performed in the Zipper Theatre revival of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris, orchestrated Evil Dead, The Musical and music directed several productions at the York Theatre including Marry Harry and the Musicals In Mufti presentations of Big, Berlin To Broadway With Kurt Weill, and Jerry's Girls. He was a solo pianist with Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and played piano and sang backup for Debbie Gibson at Harrah's in Atlantic City. Originally from Chicago, he has done shows at Bailiwick, Northlight, The New Colony and many others and was the front room pianist/singer at Davenport’s Piano Bar and the late Gentry on Halsted. Svejcar is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Music. 


Elisa Carlson is a 20-year veteran in the solo and dueling piano bar industry, singing and playing piano, violin, drums and bass all across the United States, internationally and on cruise ships. Carlson makes her Porchlight Mainstage debut with Ernest Shackleton Loves Me and previously appeared in Chicago Sings Rock & Roll Broadway. A graduate of Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, she enjoys bringing her skills to Chicago theater stages as well. Chicago credits include: Once (Writers Theatre and Paramount Theatre), Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (American Blues Theater), Peter and the Starcatcher (Metropolis Performing Arts Center), One Man, Two Guvnors (Court Theatre), Pop Waits (Neo-Futurists) and American Idiot (The Hypocrites).  Carlson is also a choreographer for young performers and will be choreographing Matilda Jr. with GingerSnap Performing Arts this summer. 

ABOUT ANDREW MUELLER, “Ernest Shackleton”

Andrew Mueller is embarking upon his Porchlight Mainstage debut (after having done various concerts, benefits, readings, etc.) Notable Chicago productions include: “Peter” in Jesus Christ Superstar (Lyric Opera), “Mark” in RENT (Paramount), Man of La Mancha (Marriott Lincolnshire), Shakespeare In Love (Chicago Shakespeare), Almost Heaven: John Denver's America (Theatre At The Center), A Christmas Carol (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Wonderland: Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure (Chicago Children's Theater). Jeff Award for “Huck Finn” in Big River (BoHo Theatre Ensemble). Off-Broadway: “Prentiss” in Peter And The Starcatcher (New World Stages), Alice By Heart (MCC). Regional: My Paris (Long Wharf), Some Lovers (Old Globe & Adirondack Theatre Festival), Baskerville (Cardinal Stage). He also performs with his band, The Red Roses, in and around Chicago. 


Porchlight Music Theatre is the award-winning center for music theatre in Chicago. Through live performance, youth education and community outreach, we impact thousands of lives each season, bringing the magic of musicals to our theatre home at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts in the Gold Coast and to neighborhoods across the city. Porchlight has built a national reputation for boldly reimagining classic musicals, supporting new works and young performers, and showcasing Chicago’s most notable music theatre artists, all through the intimate and powerful theatrical lens of the “Chicago Style.”

Porchlight's history, over the last 27 years, includes more than 70 mainstage works with 15 Chicago premieres and five world premieres. Porchlight’s commitment to the past, present and future of music theatre led the company to develop the Porchlight Revisits and New Faces Sing Broadway program series, both quickly becoming audience favorites.

Porchlight's education and outreach programs serve schools, youth of all ages and skill levels and community organizations, most notably the ongoing collaboration with Chicago Youth Centers. Porchlight annually awards dozens of full scholarships and hundreds of free tickets to ensure accessibility and real engagement with this uniquely American art form.

The company’s many honors include 184 Joseph Jefferson Award (Jeff) nominations and 45 Jeff awards, as well as 44 Black Theatre Alliance (BTA) nominations and 12 BTA awards. In 2019, Porchlight graduated to the Large Theatre tier of the Equity Jeff Awards, and was honored with eight nominations in both technical and artistic categories and won three awards in its inaugural year in this tier, most notably Best Ensemble for Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies.

Through the global pandemic, Porchlight emerged as one of Chicago’s leaders in virtual programming, quickly launching a host of free offerings like Sondheim @ 90 Roundtables, Movie Musical Mondays, Porchlight by Request: Command Performances and WPMT: Classic Musicals from the Golden Age of Radio. Porchlight launched its annual summer series in 2021, Broadway in your Backyard, performing at parks and venues throughout the city.


Porchlight Music Theatre is proud to be a member of the vibrant Ruth Page Center for the Arts community and an In-Residence Organization. Central to the Ruth Page Center for the Arts’ programming is this program, which is designed to serve organizations looking for a home base while they grow or expand their artistic and organizational capabilities. The Center is committed to nurturing and assisting dance and other performing artists, allowing for exchange and collaborative relationships to develop within the artistic community. The Ruth Page Center for the Arts is a destination for quality performing arts, accessible to a wide community regardless of race, gender, age, education or disability. An incubator of artistic energy and excellence, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts carries forward the vision of its founder, legendary dance icon Ruth Page, to be a platform for developing great artists and connecting them with audiences and community.

Porchlight Music Theatre is partially supported by generous contributions from: Allstate; Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation; Glimpse Vision; James P. and Brenda S. Grusecki Family Foundation; Hearty Boys; The League of Chicago Theatres PAV Grant Fund; The MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity and the Arts at Prince; the Pritzker Traubert Foundation; Ryan and Spaeth, Inc.; Daniel and Genevieve Ratner Foundation; The Saints and The Dr. Scholl Foundation.

The season program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency, and by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

Porchlight Music Theatre wishes to thank members of the Matching Gift Corporate Program including: Allstate; Crowdstrike; Google; Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; Peoples Gas; Pepsico; Polk Bros Foundation; State Farm; The Saints and U.S. Cellular.

Ruth Page Center for the Arts

1016 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago

Performance Schedule:

Friday, May 12 at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, May 13 at 3:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 14 at 2:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 18, at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, May 19 at 8:00 p.m. (Post-Show Talk Back)

Saturday, May 20 at 3:30 p.m. (Open Caption Performance)

Saturday, May 20 at 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, May 21 at 2:00 p.m.

Friday, May 26 at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, May 27 at 3:30 p.m. (Open Caption Performance)

Sunday, May 27 at 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, May 28 at 2:00 p.m.

Sunday, May 28, at 6:00 p.m.


Tuesday, May 30 at 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 31 at 1:30 p.m. (Post-Show Talk Back)

Wednesday, May 31 at 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, June 1 at 1:30 p.m.

Thursday, June 1 at 7:30 p.m.

Website: PorchlightMusicTheatre.org

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