Like most of the arts community, Blue Mountains Musical Society was hit hard by COVID-19. Forced to cancel both full-scale productions planned for last year, the community group remained committed to providing opportunities for local performers and produced live-streamed concerts on Facebook.
But there's really nothing quite like live theatre.
That's why the society is now preparing a return to the Blue Mountains Theatre stage with the inspiring, award-winning smash hit Broadway musical, Jersey Boys, this May.
Filling the very high pitched shoes of the band's frontman Frankie Valli is Blue Mountains resident, Ben Fairbairn. He has previously been seen on the BMMS stage as Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Sebastian in The Little Mermaid, and most recently as Herbie in Gypsy. Fairbairn said one of the things he loves about the show is getting to play real people who are still alive.
Fitness student Tyler Moody is taking on the role of Tommy DeVito and is finding the most challenging aspect of the show learning all of his lines.
"Tommy especially never seems to stop talking. It's actually one of the things I have in common with him!" he said.
It is a change from Moody's most recent role as Tulsa in Gypsy - where he had audiences falling in love with his dance abilities in his rendition of All I Need is the Girl.
Less comfortable with the dancing aspect of the show is Tim Gerber. As the youngest of the four, Gerber is taking on the role of Nick Massi at just 20 years of age, and said pairing the difficult harmonies of the quartet with the 60s boy band choreography is something he'll be "working on right up until opening night".
While Gerber said playing a real life character can be somewhat easier because "you can look at what they did when they were on stage and try to mimic that," he finds it a daunting prospect as he is playing one of the lesser-known Seasons and "people's opinion on him could solely be from how I portray him and that's scary to me".
Rounding out the famous quartet is Tyler's partner of four years, Winmalee resident James Matheson, in the role of Bob Gaudio. Matheson described Gerber as one of his best friends in the world, and said he has worked with Fairbairn a number of times and it has always been a great experience.
Having the four boys get on so well makes for a really enjoyable rehearsal process - the same cannot be said for the real Four Seasons, however. The band's internal tensions are a source of great conflict in the show, and Gerber said their solid friendships make it "great fun getting upset with each other" on stage.
Jersey Boys is playing from May 22-June 6 in Springwood. Tickets are available from $39 and Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub is accepting NSW Discover vouchers. Details: www.bmms.org.au/booknow or 4723 5050