James C. Mulligan has some very impressive credits: Miss Saigon, Little Shop of Horrors, Guys and Dolls, Fiddler on the Roof, Beauty and the Beast, Man of La Mancha, Pirates of Penzance, and Les Miz to name but a few. As an actor he has studied with William Macy and Felicity Huffman at the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York. On top of all this he is a collectible painter, painting everything from Elvis to The Little Mermaid.
Mulligan displayed a strong voice and an impressive range. He opened with “Infinite Joy” by Finn followed by “Just in Time” by Jule Styne. Much of the rest of the material he drew from Broadway shows like Jekyll and Hyde, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Miss Saigon, The Little Prince, Sunset Boulevard (his best number), and Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The second part of his show included duets with Juliana Hansen (with a lovely voice, and also a singer for Disney). Together they performed a selection from Miss Saigon, and Ms. Hansen sang “Lovely Lonely Man” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Mulligan also introduced a song called “Savannah” by Sherman and Mercer, which had never been performed in public.
Starting with “Savannah,” the rest of the evening was dedicated to Richard Sherman of the Sherman brothers. Apparently Mr. Sherman was someone Mulligan really admired and who acted as a source of inspiration. Sherman was in the audience and entertained us with Walt Disney’s favorite song, “Feed The Birds.” The encore was Sherman singing that song you can’t get out of your mind if you visit Disneyland, “Small World.”
My only caveat about what was basically an enjoyable evening was the fact that Mulligan seemed very nervous. Whether that was because Sherman was there, or some executives from Disney were at hand, I don’t know, but whatever it was Mulligan let it affect him. Cabaret can be very difficult and this was his first venture at cabaret performance. I am sure next time he will be more relaxed.
James C. Mulligan performed on November 20th at Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello’s.