Director of three groups in Sullivan
says it keeps her young
SULLIVAN — Connie Mulligan’s role as a show choir director has a new dimension. Now, she knows how a mother feels.
Mulligan directs three show choirs — the high school Sullivan Singers and all-female New Generation and the Singers Jr., the middle school group. Her son, Samuel Mulligan, an eighth-grader, is a solo award-winning member of the Singers Jr. lineup. Sullivan choirs have been performing for 36 years.
“My daughter, Sydni, a third-grader, keeps asking me when we’re going to have a young kids choir,” Mulligan said. “Yes, I now have a mother’s look at show choir.”
This is Mulligan’s second year at Sullivan. “Show choir is in my blood,” she said. “Building a team keeps me young.
“I wasn’t sure about taking this job, about the student motivation. The number of boys in the Sullivan Singers had dwindled to five. Now, I have great hopes. We now have 20 boys to go along with 23 girls. The junior high group has 18 boys, and we’re also building an addition to the stage.
“I like Sullivan. I’m a farm girl and I like small towns. Everyone works together, minimizing conflicts, getting along. The booster club is an integral part of the program. With cooperation, many things can be worked out.”
Success is coming. During the first part of the schedule, the Singers Jr. group captured grand champion competition awards at Mount Zion, Danville, Manteno and Springfield, along with choreography, solo and combo awards. The Sullivan Singers won grand champion honors in the Manteno Invitational and Zac Harris was the solo winner at Danville.
“Things are going really well,” said Michelle Liddiard, president of the booster club. “Connie Mulligan is doing a great job; all of the groups are doing well.”
Sam Mulligan puts show choir in perspective for the singers/dancers: “I like to sing. Now, I like to dance. Competitions are a blast.” He’s hooked like his mother.
Mom has been hooked on show choir forever. At the Westfield high school, the music director started a swing choir and asked Mulligan to be the choreographer. At Eastern Illinois University, she was a member of a restored show choir.
“I loved it,” she said. “There’s nothing like performing — singing and dancing. It’s a feeling, it’s like fireworks.”
Her first job after Eastern Illinois and student teaching in Decatur was at Sheldon. She heard about a job at Mount Zion and was hired, replacing Roberta Vest as Swingsations director in 1995. Under Mulligan, Mount Zion won the grand championship at the Chicago Showstoppers competition in 1995 and was grand champion in the Terpischore competition in Chicago in 1999.
After the 1999-2000 school year, Mulligan moved on. She has worked at Chatham Glenwood High School, Springfield elementary schools, Eisenhower High School, Decatur elementary schools and at Pekin High School and elementary schools. She has more than 20 years of experience as a show choir director, choreographer and adjudicator. In Sullivan, she also teaches a sixth-grade class.