It has been a very difficult year for the performing arts with the COVID-19 pandemic preventing performances in conventional ways.
Blue Mountains Musical Society (BMMS) recently came up with an innovative way to allow artists to perform whilst still complying with COVID-19 restrictions. On August 28 the society staged an entire show online for the first time since they began in 1981. Through a livestreamed concert of musical theatre songs, audiences were reminded of the superb theatrical talent in the Blue Mountains.
They will recreate the experience on November 28 with a performance dubbed, BMMS Online 2.0.
The cast of BMMS Online were all set to perform in the society's production of Mamma Mia, which was scheduled to open last month, but production ceased well into the rehearsal process due to the pandemic. Hayley Cascarino, who wowed the BMMS Online audience with her rendition of When He Sees Me from Waitress, shared her disappointment that Mamma Mia would not be staged this year.
"It's very disheartening that we don't know when an audience will see the work we put into the show," the visual arts teacher said.
Mikaela Dane, who was cast as Sophie Sheridan in Mamma Mia, was impressed with how well the cast and crew adapted to the changes required to stage a show online.
"It was such an exciting experience because it wasn't something any of us had done before, and everyone did so well," she said.
Strict safety procedures allowed cast members to perform in front of a live audience for the first time in months. One such safety measure was holding rehearsals online. Law student and vocal coach, Alina Wakeling, said: "Despite the challenges and having to rehearse online, our director, Matthew Herne, was so patient and great to work with."
The cast, crew and production team were excited to collaborate as part of the BMMS community again, albeit in a unique setting. Mitchell Wassink recalled the thrill of performing in a BMMS show during this time of uncertainty.
"Walking into the socially-distanced studio was one of the best moments of 2020. It was everything I had been missing," he said.
Ben Fairbairn, who moved the audience with his version of Corner of the Sky from Pippin, was also delighted by the opportunity to participate in a live performance.
"The livestreaming aspect was a surprising highlight for me," the Blue Mountains business owner said.
"There really is something special about performing live."
BMMS plays a key role in fostering local talent and encouraging community participation. Since joining the musical society in 1999 Lisa Mare has taken on many roles, such as cast member, committee member, director and stage manager. In BMMS Online she teamed up with Allan Wallace to sing Master of the House from Les Miserables.
"BMMS is a lifeline for many people, and a wonderful learning environment for fresh talent," she said.
Mirabai Baumann, who recently completed her Bachelor of Midwifery, is a strong advocate of the skills that can be developed through live theatre.
"Team work, commitment, efficiency and organisation are all invaluable skills I've developed during my time with BMMS."
BMMS will delight online audiences with another livestreamed concert on November 28. BMMS Online 2.0 will feature well-loved songs from hit musicals, such as Hamilton, We Will Rock You, Wicked, Cabaret and The Little Mermaid. From toe-tapping tunes to heartfelt ballads, audiences will once again be singing along in their loungerooms.