Sitting in a hospital corridor outside the room where his brother Matt was engaged in the battle of his life against leukemia, Shaun Rennie wondered what he could do to help his sibling.
While in the corridor, Rennie started telephoning around to some of the friends he has worked with in recent years in such shows as Fiddler On The Roof, Mamma Mia and the Cabaret Convention. He then asked the question -“ if he was to put together a charity concert to raise money for leukaemia research, would they be involved.
When he received only positive replies from every person he spoke to, an idea was born and he began work on the concert, Light The Night, which plays 7 November at the City Recital Hall.
I just felt so frustrated and thought there had to be something I could do, he said.
It was initially going to be a small concert with just a few friends of mine from the industry for some of Matt’s friends, but then it grew from there.
One day, I looked at the list of names, a list which had grown longer and longer, and there were some pretty impressive drawcard names on it. That was back in April, and my friend Monica Smith, who is an event manager, and I have been working on it ever since.
Rennie, 23, winner of 2003’s Sydney Cabaret Convention, is playing Fyedka in the current production Fiddler.
Among the stars appearing at Light The Night, to aid the Arrow Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation at St Vincent’s Hospital and the Liverpool Cancer Therapy Centre, are Judi Connelli, Courtney Act, Tim Draxl, Bob Downe, Margi de Ferranti, Trevor Ashley, Paulini, Matthew Newton, Chloe Dallimore, Kaye Tuckerman and the cast of Fiddler On The Roof. Maggie Kirkpatrick will host the event.
RennieÂ was performing on a Mediterranean cruise in August last year when he learnt his brother Matt had been diagnosed with leukaemia. Within weeks, he had flown home to help Matt through the worst days of the chemotherapy treatments.
By December, Matt was declared to be in remission but in February the leukemia had returned. Four months later, his family was told Matt had only 10 days to live.
I was in Melbourne at the time auditioning for Fiddler, and I raced home and we began to prepare to lose him, Rennie recalls. Then Matt had stem cell therapy and a new stem cell donor was found two months ago, and he is now doing amazingly and he is officially in remission.
But the best thing is that Matt will be there at the concert, and he has insisted on buying his own ticket. I said as this was all because of him, I would give him a ticket, and he replied, -˜Shut up, this is about raising money for charity, so just take the money.’ He’s like that.
Light The Night plays 7 November at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place. Bookings on 8256 2222.