Disney Junior on stage
For the Disney Junior set, Bartley Mullin is a celebrity two times over, just counting his current show. In “Disney Junior Live on Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure” he portrays Baileywick from the hit Disney Junior television show “Sofia the First” and Bones the singing pirate from “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.”
Part of the touring company of Feld Entertainment, which produces the Disney on Ice and Disney Live tours, Mullin has also portrayed another beloved character -- Woody from “Toy Story.” What’s more, Mullin has worked at Walt Disney World as a dancer in the parades.
The “Pirate & Princess Adventure” tour opened a month ago and will be performed in 90 cities by the end of the tour in May. This is Mullin’s fourth year with the company, after two years at Disney World. The 17-member cast performs in different cities on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and arrives in the Friday show city on Mondays. In Durham, Mullin has spent his free time running and catching up with a friend from high school. His list of things to do on the tour include sky diving and whale watching.
Growing up in Vermont, Mullin loved going to his dad’s movie theater, and he always loved Disney movies, too. He watched “The Lion King” nine times.
“I love performing these shows for young kids, and love their reactions. They do their quirky things and touching things,” he said. At one performance, he saw two little girls, one without hair he assumed had cancer. One theme in the show is working as a team, he said, and the girls were hugging. Seeing that validates what he does, Mullin said.
The cast had six weeks to prepare for the show and he watched numerous episodes of “Sofia the First” and “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.” “Sofia” is Disney’s first little girl princess, who becomes royalty when her mother marries a king. She wears a special amulet that allows her to talk to animals and occasionally summons other Disney princesses, like Cinderella.
Cinderella makes an appearance in “Pirate & Princess Adventure” as do Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The princess part of “The Pirate & Princess” storyline centers around preparing for a friendship festival. Before the show starts, Doc McStuffins, another newly beloved Disney Junior character with her own television show, takes the stage. “Doc McStuffins” and “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” reached 46.7 million and 36.5 million television viewers in 2012. “Sofia the First” premiered early this year and is the top cable series for kids ages 2 to 5. Several performers come down to meet kids during intermission, and a few kids are called on stage to do a pirate dance with Minnie and Mickey.
The first half of “Pirate & Princess Adventure” is Sofia’s story, then after intermission it’s on to “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” a spinoff of “Peter Pan.” Jake and his pirate friends Izzy and Cubby battle Captain Hook. In “Pirate & Princess Adventure,” Jake, Izzy and Cubby race against Hook to find a treasure-filled volcano.
Mullin said in the production they perform the “Jake” theme song as well as “Hook’s Hooks” and “Shipwreck Shuffle,” which he said was a lot of fun.
Baileywick and Bones are very different characters. Baileywick, the castle steward, “is basically Tim Gunn [who voices the character on the show], being animated but very reserved, so it’s fine-tuning gestures,” Mullin said. Baileywick gets his own dance number, too, that “lets him step out of the seriousness, and it’s his big moment to shine.”
Mullin said the characters have different parts of his personality – he’s organized like Baileywick and a goof like Bones.
Enchancia and Never Land are home to Mullin for now, as he spends all his time on the road. He does have a storage shed in New Hampshire. On vacation, he’ll go home for his brother’s baby shower -- Mullin’s first niece and perhaps fan in training.
“The little ones get totally immersed in the world we create for them – they scream at Captain Hook, applaud the characters,” Mullin said. “It’s magical seeing that moment.”
Speaking of characters, Mullin doesn’t have any Baileywick or Bones memorabilia yet, but he does have lots of Woody stuff from his previous tour. He has the Woody doll, other “Toy Story” characters and a Woody lunch box he travels with.
“Woody was a lot of fun because he is so loved. “I think my favorite is Bones because it’s a role I never played before, and it’s f,” he said un to be immersed in that.”