James is best known as the composer of the Off-Broadway musical The Spitfire Grill (Playwrights Horizons, 2001) which won the Richard Rodgers Production Award administered by the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Stephen Sondheim, chair) and received Best Musical nominations from the Outer Critics Circle and Drama League as well as two Drama Desk nominations. Written with collaborator Fred Alley, Spitfire has been produced over 600 times across the United States, in Germany, South Korea, Japan, and Australia, as well as a highly lauded London premiere in 2015. Also Off-Broadway, James was the composer/author of Zombies from The Beyond, which opened to critical acclaim in 1995.
James has composed scores for Love’s Labour’s Lost at Idaho Shakespeare Festival & Great Lakes Theatre Festival, The Rivals, The Merchant of Venice, and Much Ado About Nothing for Door Shakespeare, Tomas and the Library Lady at Idaho Theatre for Youth, an adaptation of the classic children’s book The Pancake King commissioned by Milwaukee’s Next Act Theatre, The Passage (another collaboration with Fred Alley) & Victory Farm for Northern Sky Theatre, and Anatole for First Stage. For TAP, James has created the Irving Berlin cavalcade I Love a Piano, adapted the opera “La Serva Padrona” as Maid to Marry (the surprise hit of the 2015 Spring season) and created a new adaptation of the 1910 musical Madame Sherry. He recently completed the score for Boxcar, which will premiere at Northern Sky in the future.
Broadway credits as conductor and/or musician include Chicago, Flower Drum Song, Cabaret, and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Other conducting credits: Maurice Sendak’s production of Really Rosie, Candide, Lady in the Dark, South Pacific (Skylight Opera Theatre), and She Loves Me (Indiana Rep). Television appearances include The Today Show (NBC) and Musical Theatre: New Directions (PBS).
Directing credits include Zombies from The Beyond off-Broadway, Northern Sky’s The Spitfire Grill, and TAP’s Almost, Maine, The Glass Menagerie, The 39 Steps, The Drawer Boy, The Fantasticks, Steel Magnolias, and The Amish Project (among others). Favorite acting roles include Cosme in Souvenir (Boise Contemporary Theatre, American Stage Company, & TAP), Feste in Twelfth Night (Door Shakespeare), Ernie in Guys on Ice (Milwaukee Rep), Erik Satie in Velvet Gentleman & Philippe in Madame Sherry (TAP), and Pierre in How I Became a Pirate (First Stage Milwaukee). James holds an MFA from New York University Tisch School of the Arts and is a proud member of the American Federation of Musicians & Actors Equity Association.