Twenty-one years ago, Australian pop group Human Nature released their debut album, Telling Everybody. Two decades later, the four high school friends from southwest Sydney are enjoying remarkable international success.
In 2009, Human Nature became only the second Australian group ever to secure a highly-coveted residency on the Las Vegas strip. Their success in Sin City has continued ever since, the band chalking up their 1000th show in Vegas back in 2014. Their current show, Jukebox, plays The Venetian Hotel fives night a week and pays homage to the group’s musical influences (at the time of publication, Jukebox was selling through until the end of January, 2018).
Back at home, the members of Human Nature have just been named patrons of Sydney’s Bankstown Theatre Company (BTC), a group with which they began their performing careers almost 30 years ago.
“We are delighted and honoured to have Human Nature bring their talent and influence to our company,” said Edward Rooke, president of BTC, in a statement. “Their talent, sense of community and humble approach to their career has been nothing short of inspiring. These are four men that have never forgotten their roots and who have always generously nurtured talent during their busy career.”
Michael Tierney, a member of the foursome, remembers joining BTC at the age of 12 with his siblings, becoming a chorus member in the company’s production of Fiddler on the roof.
“I remember this was such a great introduction into musical theatre and great fun being part of a group of people that loved performing,” Tierney says.
His love of musical theatre remains and he’s even begun introducing his daughter to shows. Similarly, Phil Burton continues to be passionate about musical theatre.
“It was definitely BTC who gave me that love in the first place,” he says.
“I think young people can learn so much from community theatre – the sense of camaraderie in building something together as a team, the discipline of rehearsals and performance, the friendships, and also the joy in stepping on the stage and showing off something you have created with everyone around you and hearing the appreciation from the audience – they are all great experiences.”
Andrew Tierney (Michael’s brother) agrees much can be gained from participation in community theatre.
“A sense of community is one of the great ones and finding like-minded people to share a passion with,” he says.
“You also get performance experience and engage in the discipline of rehearsal and preparation for a show. It’s honestly rare that people get to make a full-time career of performing, so it’s an awesome way to elevate your hobby to the stage and get to entertain an audience through being part of a great local theatre company.”
It was Toby Allen’s involvement with BTC that afforded him the chance to play Arab in West Side Story. The experience also saw him form an enduring friendship with performer and choreographer Sharryn Babcock.
“We formed a great friendship while at BTC and have remained in contact ever since then,” says Allen. “We are close friends and it is crazy that now both our children are growing up together and spending so much time together. Sharryn’s husband, Greg, is also our drummer in our show in Vegas, so there is a tight connection between all of us.”
As an adult, on top of his success with the group, Allen has had opportunities to return to the musical theatre stage, his credits including the role of the emcee in Cabaret in London and Kenickie in Grease here in Australia.
Allen is asked whether there’s a role in musical theatre he’d still love to play.
“Miss Trunchbull in Matilda,” he says. “It looks like such a fun and challenging role to play.”
Like each of his bandmates, Allen speaks to the opportunities associated with community theatre involvement.
“Community theatre is such a wonderful place to promote confidence in young people, getting the opportunity to work alongside others that share a love for the performing arts,” he says. “It also shows them that when people from all walks of life come together in the community, they can work together to create wondrous pieces of entertainment.”
For more information about Bankstown Theatre Company, head to www.bankstowntheatrecompany.com