Making a difference – Elise McCann prepares to Light the Night for leukaemia research

Elise McCann. Image by <a href="" target="_blank">Blueprint Studios</a>
Elise McCann. Image by Blueprint Studios

Light The Night (now more funkily known as ‘LTN’) is a benefit concert inspired by the courageous Matthew Rennie, a brave young man who fought a three year battle against leukaemia, sadly passing away in 2007.

Well known musical theatre performers and brothers of Matthew, Shaun and Adam Rennie created the event with family friends Monica and Greg Smith in 2005, bringing members of the arts community together for a one-off concert to raise funds for leukaemia awareness and research.

Now in its 8th year, Light The Night is a mainstay on both the arts and community calendars, with an impressive line up of artists continually willing to donate their time and talent to such a wonderful cause. Performer Elise McCann (Dr. Zhivago, South Pacific) is proud to be a part of the 2012 cast and spoke with AussieTheatre about her ongoing support of the event.

“This is my sixth year with Light The Night, and I’ve been involved in a variety of capacities”, she said, after completing a rehearsal for her number at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne.

[pull_left]The motto for Light The Night is ‘always look on the bright side of life’ and this sentiment is true to my heart. I know it sounds incredibly cliched, but I honestly believe that[/pull_left]

“I am always happy to be a part of the event – It’s such a phenomenal cause. It’s one of the few gigs where every artist and crew member comes together genuinely happy and excited to be involved. The motto for Light The Night is ‘always look on the bright side of life’ and this sentiment is true to my heart. I know it sounds incredibly cliched, but I honestly believe that”.

A close personal friendship with the events’ creator, Shaun Rennie, saw Elise perform in the inaugural benefit concert back in 2005 and as she prepares for her 6th Light The Night, she reflects on the incredible achievements of the Rennie brothers and and how humbling and inspiring it is to work alongside them.

“Shaun is one of my best friends, and family and friendship mean everything to me. I saw how hard it was for him and his whole family with Matt. Their family wanted to do anything they could to make a difference, so it always felt right to do anything I could and help in any way.”

“The concert is not just about them and their personal journey with leukaemia. It’s about a greater good”.

Elise McCann. Image by <a href="" target="_blank">Blueprint Studios</a>
Elise McCann has performed at six Light The Night concerts since 2005. Image by Blueprint Studios

To date, Light The Night has raised over $280,000 for Leukaemia research and this year, money raised will fund the LIGHT THE NIGHT Research Grant, supporting the promising new ‘Gene Control in Acute Leukaemia’ project being undertaken by St Vincent’s Hospital’s Haematology Research Team.

What is most inspiring about this event is that the Rennie brothers, along with Monica and Greg Smith achieved a goal that many people only ever talk about around the dinner table.

“Everyone wanst to make a difference in the world, but these guys actually went and did something about it”, Elise enthused.

“What’s even more important is that they have also provided a place and an avenue for other people to help. People want to help, but they just don’t know how. Now they can.”

Light The Night 2012 is less than two weeks away and will take place at City Recital Hall, Angel Place, hosted by Rob Mills and Jan van de Stool (Queenie van de Zandt). Book your tickets now for an incredible evening of entertainment, support, warm fuzzies and the knowledge that you will be making a difference.

Date: Monday 22 October
Time: 7:30pm
Bookings: (02) 8256 2222 or 

More information, visit

Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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