It’ll come as a shock to many to learn that longtime Sydney performer and choreographer Ian Knowles – known for his contributions to Mardi Gras and Gay Games shows and his prolific musical theatre work – is currently engaged in the fight of his life.
Knowles, now Melbourne-based, was recently diagnosed with a stage four brain tumour.
Once news spread, his wide network of friends in the entertainment industry leapt into action. Here in Sydney, Slide will play host to the ‘Concert for Knowlesy’ on Monday August 26, raising much-needed funds for Knowles as he undergoes chemotherapy and other treatments to battle the aggressive tumour.
Hats Off institution Garry Scale and recent I Will Survive contestant Rohan Seinor will co-host the concert – the Star Observer checked in with Seinor to find out how preparations were coming along.
“We’ve got lots of Ian’s friends from within the industry performing. A lot of people from Hello Dolly and other shows he’s done before are taking part – we all want to do as much for him as we can, and give him as much hope and support as he needs,” Seinor said.
Performers on the bill include Simon Burke, Lisa Callingham, Wayne Scott Kermond and Martin Crewes, with musical direction by Miss Bev Kennedy. While Knowles’ intensive treatment means he won’t be able to make the trip up from Sydney, organisers plan to keep him updated on the progress of the concert as the evening unfolds.
Seinor and Knowles’ friendship stretches back 25 years to when the pair were a couple of young lads in Perth with dreams of moving to Australia’s gay capital.
“I first met Ian in Perth back in 1988, and we used to dance at the gay clubs before we moved over to Sydney together after a few years. We did a lot of work in the clubs here in the early 90s, with drag names like Penny Clifford and Trudi Valentine.”
Since then, highlights of Knowles’ career include appearing on the Priscilla float at the Sydney Olympics closing ceremony, regular involvement with Mardi Gras, and creative directing a section of the Gay Games opening ceremony. Along the way, he’s collected a lifetime’s worth of friends, many of whom have offered support in any way they can as he battles this health crisis.
“It’s been overwhelming, the amount of support he’s been given from everywhere. It’s not just here in Sydney – back in WA, people he used to dance with and teach have shown their support too. Everyone’s just jumped on board, and I can understand why: he’s a beautiful man. A gentle soul and extremely talented,” Seinor said.
“The important thing is to make it a fun night – it’s about helping him out.”
INFO: Concert for Knowlesy, Slide, Monday August 26. Dinner & show/show-only tickets available. Tickets from slide.com.au