Ernest Shackleton Loves Me

This is a longtime passion project for Val, a female-empowerment musical that began with a life-changing museum visit over a decade ago and has become more and more autobiographical over the years. The show will reopen, somewhere, before long.

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, and even more importantly, in the power of self-reliance.

Cast album is now available on Broadway Records (release date Feb 9, 2018).

Click here for the Broadway World album review.

Starring Val + the charismatic Wade McCollum (Wicked), the show is helmed by Obie Award® winning director Lisa Peterson and written by Tony Award® winner Joe DiPietro (Memphis), with music by Brendan Milburn and lyrics by Val, 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 & orchestrations by Ryan O'Connell.


 Wildly quirky... Intrepid... Exhilarating 
—New York Times 

“A delightfully impossible dream… a thrilling trip… Musical virtuoso Vigoda… defies cynicism and revels in its celebration.”
—Boston Globe  

“THE MOST WILDLY INSPIRING theatrical undertaking thus far this season... I flipped—and so will you.”
—Joyce's Choices


Second Stage
Tony Kiser Theatre
New York, NY
May 7-June 11, 2017  

The Paramount Theatre 
Boston, MA 
September 20-October 4, 2015 

George Street Playhouse 
New Brunswick, NJ 
April 22 - May 17, 2015 

Balagan Theatre/Seattle Repertory Theatre 
Seattle, WA 
April 18-May 3, 2014

Additional Theatre Projects

Striking 12—the show that started it all! Based partly on Hans Christian Andersen's beloved New Year's tale, "The Little Match Girl," this charming holiday piece launched Val and her bandmates from indie rock into the world of theatre. Written with Brendan Milburn and Tony winner Rachel Sheinkin (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), and directed by Ted Sperling.  Here's a review from the New York Times, and you can pick up the album here. Licensed by Theatrical Rights Worldwide.

Long Story Short—this sweet and funny 2-hander encapsulates five decades of a couple's life together. Written with Brendan Milburn, adapted from David Schulner's play "An Infinite Ache," and directed by Kent Nicholson. Here's a review from the San Diego Union-Tribune. Licensed by Theatrical Rights Worldwide.

Sleeping Beauty Wakes—a longstanding labor of love, in which Beauty declines to wake to the kiss of the prince, and instead awakens 900 years later in a modern sleep disorder clinic. Written with Brendan Milburn (though he is no longer involved) and Rachel Sheinkin, directed by Gary Griffin. Led by intrepid producers Mara Isaacs and Larry Hirschhorn, this beautiful piece has gone through many iterations and is a real survivor.  Here's a review from; you can check out the original concept album here, and some additional songs here. We hope to have news of next steps for this beloved show soon.

Beautiful Poison—Val is not directly working on this one anymore but it's still in development and it's a gorgeous piece, a contemporary gothic thriller and romance based on the Hawthorne story "Rappaccini's Daughter" and set in modern-day New Orleans. It is the first commission ever granted by the 5th Avenue Theatre. Written with Brendan Milburn and Duane Poole, directed by Tony winner Christopher Ashley. You can hear a demo of the first song written for the show here.

Toy Story the Musical—the first project Val worked on for Disney. This one-hour puppet-filled extravaganza ran on the Disney cruise ship Wonder for eight years. Written with Brendan Milburn and Mindi Dickstein, directed by Stefan Novinski.

Wheelhouse—the quirky and warm autobiographical musical about Val's band GrooveLily and their life in an RV. Written with bandmates Brendan Milburn and Gene Lewin, directed by Lisa Peterson. Here are a few songs from it.

(A) Midsummer Night('s Dream)—a morphing project that began as Tina Landau's wild vision of A Midsummer Night's Dream, featuring GrooveLily onstage (and songs written with Brendan Milburn and Gene Lewin)...and then became a very different piece called Midsummer Night, directed by Janet Roston. Years of fun with Shakespeare. Here's a concept album from the first version, and here are some demos from the second version. Val loves them both.

Some theatrical songs written for Disney productions that are still up and running:
Mickey's Fantasy Faire "On This Day" - Disney World  
Muppets "Great Moments in History" - Disney World  
Mickey and the Magician "Let the Magic Shine" - Disneyland Paris  
Disneyland Fantasy Faire "Happily Ever After At the End" - Disneyland


Val has had the pleasure of co-writing songs for a number of Disney films. Below are two examples: "Summer's Just Begun" from Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, and "The Great Divide" from Tinker Bell and the Secret of the Wings.

Literary Agent

Want Val to write you an anthem, or collaborate on a musical?

Buddy Thomas 
Samuel French